Draft Planning Meeting

By: Steph McDonald
Chartered Financial Planner
HarperLees

Often meeting number two, Steph McDonald describes the ‘draft’ planning meeting as another time to shine. It’s when life and money come together to show what’s possible.

It’s really important to get the exploratory meeting right and Lifestyle Financial Planning properly positioned by explaining to the client that what you do is really different and will change their lives.

Our Draft Planning Meeting follows after we have collated all the details about the client’s personal and financial situation.

We call it a draft financial plan for a reason; the draft is our version of the client’s initial current and possible situation and a great discussion tool. It’s important that the client feels involved in their planning.

This is our time to shine, where we really show the client why their trust is justified. Presenting a draft plan to the client is where we deliver on our promise.

We are able to tell clients they can afford to give up work early, enjoy more life, or afford to give money to their children now while they can watch them enjoy it. Giving with ‘warm hands’ rather than later with ‘cold hands’.

Some meetings are harder, showing a client that they are not in the position that they thought and that they have to make some changes if they want to avoid swapping “lifestyle” for “survival” in the future.

No matter what the outcome, the one experience that doesn’t change is that ‘lightbulb’ moment for the client, when they truly understand the purpose of the first discovery meeting and when they realise how important lifestyle focused Financial Planning is to their life.

The important thing to remember about this meeting is that it remains client centred, we always want to be talking about their life, their dreams and motivators not just their money.

Once clients see the draft plan and have their ‘lightbulb’ moment, where they truly understand and appreciate what they can do, they become more engaged.

The agreed plan then forms the basis of managing assets and income streams to support their lifestyles. It is never a ‘final’ plan as life is never static, and flexibility with regular plan management ensures it stays on track.

Helping clients to experience their ‘lightbulb’ moment is truly more inspiring than selling a product has ever been.

Lightbulb moment number 1

One client hated his job as a school caretaker but worked because he felt he needed to. When he saw that he did not need to work at all he handed in his notice the very same day.

Lightbulb moment number 2

At the next year’s plan management meeting our client was much more relaxed, but we could tell he still wasn’t quite achieving all of his dreams. We prodded and discovered he had always wanted to upgrade from his dinghy to a small yacht. We added the purchase of the boat to his plan and it was immediately clear that it really was affordable.

Delighted, our client invited us out for the launch of the new boat to celebrate with G&Ts on the water. The plan and cashflow forecast released them from their ‘rainy day fears’.

Lightbulb moment number 3

A young couple in their 30s, no children, handled their finances very well, worked hard to clear debt and save. They had a clear dream to retire early and buy a smallholding but absolutely no idea if it was financially possible.

We showed them that they could achieve their dream without them ever running out of money.

Not a product recommendation in sight, as they were perfectly capable of investing their own money during the early accumulation period and were already making significant pension provision. What they wanted was a sense check and the comfort that their dream could be a reality.

Lightbulb moment number 4

A couple came in to discuss transferring Defined Benefits pensions in order to access income.

We spent the first 40 minutes of the meeting not allowing them to tell us how much the pensions were worth. What we really needed to get to the bottom of is why they needed the money. The lady had terminal cancer, she was currently reasonably fit and outliving expectations but wanted to free up some money.

After some probing it became clear that it was not about the money, but about making memories in the time she had left and with her family. This was achievable using the other liquid assets rather than a defined benefit transfer.

Life over money

If you can really believe in life over money management and achieving fantastic client outcomes, you will have the best client meetings and relationships you have ever experienced, with very happy and fully engaged clients who cannot wait to come back time and time again to check their dreams are still on track.

SOME SUGGESTIONS

The important thing to remember about this draft planning meeting is that we still always want to be talking about clients’ lives, their dreams and motivators not their money. Money is just a tool required to get them there.

Cashflow modelling gives the plan a reality check and helps clients make good, informed decisions: It…

  • Captures changing income streams and lifestyle expenditure through current and future life stages, incorporating ‘what if’ scenarios for discussion
  • Confirms the current position and future position if nothing changes
  • Provides a clear map and illustrates the impact of any financial decisions clients may want to make, identifying what’s necessary to get to where they want to be.

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