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Helping clients cope with ‘Black Swans’

As Financial Planners, we have been well trained to help our clients navigate the so-called ‘black swan’ events of our time. Here I want to address the life planning issues impacted by these events that might be less familiar. 

Many have lost loved ones to the Coronavirus or suffer the health ramifications of long-Covid.

The UK is a different place post-Brexit with regulations that complicate how financial advisers run their businesses. Add to that the war in Ukraine that’s terrifying everyone. Each of these events is stressing the world economy, producing inflation and threatening recession. 

These circumstances have constrained us financially, limited our mobility, and created uncertainty in our daily lives. For the Financial Planner, there is a dual effect: how do you both manage your own life plan and counsel your clients regarding theirs? Moreover, how do you deal with these disappointments, both strategically as a Financial Planner and with the emotional intelligence of a life planner? 

Life Planning is founded on empathic listening and provides two remarkable skill sets to aid your financial acumen in these challenging times: mindfulness and creating inspiring visions. 

The practice of mindfulness will not only help you become a better listener to your clients by learning first to listen deeply inside yourself, but it also delivers profound relaxation. Consider building a routine. I strongly recommend a half hour every day if you want sustainable progress throughout your life in developing both ease and listening skills. A few minutes of mindfulness before each client meeting can help too.

If you want tips for building a routine, I’ve written a book of over 80 different practices, Transforming Suffering into Wisdom.

Inspiring visions are necessary for many of us to get through such difficult times as we are currently facing. Financial Planners that use the Kinder Institute’s EVOKE® Life Planning method are masters at creating inspiring visions. Having started with the design and delivery of their own life plans, these Financial Planners have an intrinsic sense of meaning, know how to be in the world, and feel inspired with vitality, and they deliver this to their clients. 

In EVOKE®, V stands for Vision or what I call “lighting the torch.” Any one of the black swan events we’re facing could make our dreams more challenging. In those situations, financial life planners are trained to relight their client’s torch. Even if their dreams have diminished a bit, this is a heart-warming and inspiring experience for both client and adviser, and an important check-in to ensure the financial plan they’ve crafted is perfectly aligned with the life their client longs to live. 

The visioning process often reveals the best path through the crises we experience. Having inspiring goals feeds the optimism needed to both move forward and recover from setbacks.   

Brexit has limited our ability to engage with the EU. Both war and Covid have instilled fear for our well-being and caution around travel. Our buying power has been diminished by inflation, threatening financial security, and there is a foreboding sense of economic hardship. 

Life planning taps into the things that are most meaningful in one’s life. It’s a way of being. Your ability to pursue goals that transcend world problems, that focus on your immediate relationships and surroundings, that touch on your most profound desires, will propel you forward. The same is true for your clients. 

Your clients are likely to feel jittery about how world events will affect their lives and portfolios. The best thing is to convey peace within yourself, listen in a kind and attentive manner, and respond with empathy and hope.

The financial life planner’s work supports a client’s hero journey, where they go down into the darkness and up into the light. By being a great listener, you facilitate your client’s movement through difficult emotions and into inspiration.

Registered Life Planners are trained to steer clients around the turmoil of personal and world events through a structured interview process that is inspirational and life affirming. We know who our client is, what their authenticity has been calling them to become, and we energize them to pursue their dreams of freedom.

Your clients will leave these life planning meetings feeling clarity around their direction simply because you’re there in the troubles with them, sharing the empathy and the excitement of finding the way through darkness and into light.

George Kinder, CFP, RLP, is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning and designer of training for client-adviser relationship skills. 



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