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The Agile Financial Planner

Author: Roger Whitney

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In the Agile Financial Planner podcast, Roger Whitney, CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, RMA®, AIF® helps financial advisors build and grow the practices of their dreams. Whether you are trying to grow, scale, or even start a financial planning practice, you can build a practice that serves you and your family, with a team of motivated employees or contractors, and that serves only ideal clients. You’ll learn how to build a financial planning business plan as well as best practices with branding, marketing, the financial planning process, team-building, and the best systems and processes to leverage your time. And, of course, you will learn how to do it all compliantly.
24 Episodes
Tanya Nichols, CFP, owner of Align Financial and I chat about why clients hire us.
How you approach business spending will define your growth.
In this episode, we'll chat about how to move the needle on projects critical to your success as an advisor.      
Don't Be a Squirrel

Don't Be a Squirrel


Our job as financial planners is to help our clients define their A-Z and then get them there fast and efficiently.  How to create Elegant Simplicity
Roger Whitney chats with Michael Lecours, co-founder of fpPathfinder about the importance of checklists and decisions trees in financial planning. Connect with Roger on Twitter @roger_whitney
I’ve been in this business for 28 years and I’ve been through some crazy markets. We all know the markets go up and down, but sometimes when they are down it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. On this episode, I noodle on what I have discovered from my experience from these types of seasons and I offer you some do’s and don’ts to help get you and your clients through this challenge. Join me and we’ll see if we can see the good in these crazy times.  Outline of This Episode [2:22] These are the best of times and the worst of times [3:26] A bear market is like a forest fire [9:05] How do you get through this with clients and your business?  [26:00] Here’s what not to do When you’re up you’re up But when you’re down you’re down. For the past 10 years, the markets have been up. That’s been a heck of a run. But the good times can make it hard to really visualize the challenging times. This rocky road is where you can make great strides in your thinking and in your practice. These outside forces will force you to regroup, become more disciplined, and grow as an advisor. Just like working out with a personal trainer, bear markets bring on a good sweat.  A bear market is like a forest fire A bear market is a very natural, organic thing just like a forest fire. Strong, healthy trees grow when conditions are right. But those same optimal growing conditions also lead to undergrowth and bushes. After several years in these conditions, the forest becomes overgrown. Over time, the forest begins to suffer. Even the most robust trees can fall ill due to all the competition for resources. Without proper management, conditions become ripe for a forest fire.  The forest fire comes and clears out excess growth. It weeds out the weaker players and redistributes the resources of the forest. Only the strongest survive. Although it is painful, it is a healthy, necessary part of the ecology. A bear market is the same. It efficiently helps reallocate resources to the most sustainable businesses and decreases competition. The longer we go without forest fires the more damaging they can be. The same goes for market corrections.  What can you do to get through this difficult time with your clients and your business? Tumultuous markets can be scary for you and your clients. But it’s your job to help guide your clients through this challenge. Here are some tips for what you can do to help them and you through: Do take care of yourself first - do the things that bring joy to your life. Do get yourself mentally fit - you’re going to need to bring your A-game to help your clients  Do show them where you add value - this is your time to shine.  Do compartmentalize - a work-life balance is so important right now.  Do present strength to your clients - but don’t be overconfident Do reach out to your clients personally - show them you care about each one of them individually Do listen - your clients are scared right now, they need someone to listen to their fears Do ask yourself - what does this make possible? There are several things you should not do during these tumultuous times Don’t focus on facts and figures - this is an emotional time for your clients Don’t predict - realize what you don’t know.  Don’t hide - communicate with each client personally. Don’t hide behind mass communication and technology.  Don’t overthink things.  Don’t do the coulda woulda shoulda Don’t try to solve anything Don’t take too much ownership - You are not responsible for bad markets and you are not responsible for your clients’ life.  Hopefully, these tips can help you and your clients make it through this challenge. Listen in to hear my full list of do’s and don’ts.  Resources & People Mentioned Dan Crosby episode Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to The Agile Financial Planner Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Have you ever considered what the role of a financial advisor really is? I read a Tweet recently in which a financial advisor said if you aren’t calling your clients when the markets take a downturn you aren’t earning your money. What do you think? Did you call your clients last week to explain what happened in the markets? The Agile Financial Planner is a podcast created to consider how to thrive as financial planners in the 21st century. Listen in to hear what I think our true role is as financial advisors.  Outline of This Episode [0:22] Should you call your clients when the markets are down? [6:01] Don’t solely focus on the investment management part of planning [8:02] Deliver the WHAM [14:39] Teach the clients which levers to pull Should you call your clients when the markets go up or down? Would calling your clients when the markets go up or down help them reach their goals? If you call your clients out of the blue and tell them not to worry, would that ease their woes? What would you really accomplish? If you think about behavioral finance, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Find out how to really help your clients achieve their goals by listening to this episode of The Agile Financial Planner.  What do your clients really care about? Your clients’ goals don’t have anything to do with the markets. Money is simply a tool to help us achieve our true goals. Instead of calling clients every time the markets move up or down a few percentage points, focus on creating a plan that will help them live the life they really want. As advisors, we need to go beyond the portfolio and help with the little decisions that can make a big impact on creating the life they want to lead. Deliver the WHAM Instead of focusing on the shifts in markets, I help my clients by focusing on the WHAM. I use this helpful acronym to act as a project manager for my clients.  W - Clients always have a ‘wh’ question. What should I do next? What should I be focused on? What opportunities might I be missing? I help them define their questions and reframe them. I am constantly anticipating their ‘wh’ questions so that I can help them achieve their goals.  H - How always follows what. After focusing on what then you can focus on how you can help your clients achieve their goals. A - Provide assistance and accountability. You are the clients’ project manager. Teach them how to take the steps they need and give them deadlines. M - build momentum by achieving a lot of little wins.  What is your true role a financial advisor?  Think about your role as a financial planner. Your focus is not only on the markets and money but on how to help your clients make good choices to ensure they can live the life they really want. Your role goes way beyond portfolios and investment management. Instead, show them the real changes they can make to optimize their choices and teach them how to not get distracted by the small shiny objects that can divert them from their true path.  Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to The Agile Financial Planner Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
You’re a highly-skilled financial planner, you’ve worked hard to build your practice, and you’re good at what you do, but do you know how to market yourself? How do you find your ideal clients? One of the biggest problems many financial planners have is marketing themselves to the clients they wish to serve. I’ve invited Brad Johnson, a financial advisor coach, on the show today to help us solve the puzzle of how to attract the people that you serve best. Today you’ll learn how you can stand out from the crowd and find your target market.  Outline of This Episode [3:22] This show helps me flush out my thinking [6:30] How important is a personal brand as a financial advisor? [10:35] Why is it so important to be able to differentiate yourself? [18:00] How are you speaking to clients? [22:25] Naming your process will feel weird [25:05] How do we become more human on our websites? [31:11] Be relatable Who is Brad Johnson? Although Brad’s website is, he actually goes by Brad. Brad is a coach for elite financial planners and the host of the Elite Advisor Blueprint podcast. He consults the top financial advisors on how to build their ideal practice. Since Brad has over 10 years of experience working with financial advisors and improving their practices, I knew he would be an excellent resource for all of you to learn how to market yourself to the clients you wish to serve.  How to market yourself and develop a personal brand as a financial advisor We know that to be relevant among all of the advisors out there we have to find a way to set ourselves apart from the crowd. But how can we do that when we offer the same services as everyone else? This is when it’s time to dig deep. Before you begin to think of branding you need to think about what you really offer your clients. What services or products do you offer to get clients to their end goals? Think about how you can differentiate what you do and trademark that.  Why is it so important to be able to differentiate what you do for clients? When you are just starting out as a new financial advisor, life is like the Hunger Games. You’re just out there trying to survive. You’ll serve anyone and everyone. But after you begin to build up a clientele and hone your skills, then you can really think about the clients that you serve best. It’s important to find a niche so that you can serve clients at a higher level. If you can’t describe to clients how your product will change their lives then you are just a commodity. And the only thing that commodities offer is a good price. Do you really want to be known as the cheapest financial advisor? You can custom build your practice while serving your current clients. Learn how by listening to this episode of the Agile Financial Planner.  How do we become more human on our websites? Gone are the days when business cards ruled. Our websites are the first thing that people look at when trying to find the right financial planner. Did you know that people spend more time on the About Us page of a website? They want to know who you really are. If you want to make an impression then you need to put humanity into your About Us section. This is your opportunity to shine. Connect with your people and be relatable. Tell me about your journey in marketing. Has it been a bumpy ride or smooth sailing?  Resources & People Mentioned Story Brand Scribe (Book in a Box) Dan Sullivan Strategic Coach Tony Robbins Gary Vaynerchuk Connect with Brad Johnson Brad Johnson Elite Planner Blueprint podcast @BradJohnsonAE on Facebook @Brad_Johnson on Twitter Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney
In today’s world, being a good financial planner is not simply about helping clients make smart financial choices, you also need to be able to help them make good life decisions. Being a great financial planner is means more than knowing about asset allocation and financial planning. We need more skills than we have been taught in CFP courses or at our firms. On this episode of The Agile Financial Planner, author, Standard Deviations Podcast host, and behavioral finance expert, Dr. Dan Crosby joins me to discuss how we can help our clients make smart life decisions as well as good financial choices. If you want to be a good financial planner you’re going to need more tools in your toolbox than just the CFP curriculum. Listen to this episode to hear Dr. Dan Crosby’s advice on how to help your clients make better decisions.  Outline of This Episode [1:32] Clients want the whole WHAM [4:40] How to help clients make better decisions [8:15] How do you give advice to people when you don’t even feel like you have made it yet yourself [14:15] It is important to know yourself [18:20] People will come up with the right decisions when given the right information [22:51] Connection occurs through vulnerability and shared values How do we help our clients make smart financial choices and smart life decisions as well? If we want to be an integral part of our clients’ lives we need to solidify our value to them. Being a good financial planner means that you’ll have to help your clients not only make smart financial choices but smart life decisions as well. You’re not just there to help them make decisions about asset allocation and retirement goals. You’re there to help them with little everyday decisions, like whether to pay off the mortgage or how to invest that dollar. There is an endless amount of decision making possibilities. All of which deal with issues outside what you have been taught in school or in any corporate training. That’s why you’ll need a framework to help guide you.  Clients are looking for what I call the WHAM WHAM is an acronym for a feedback loop that benefits clients. It creates momentum, confidence, accountability, and progress. WHAM stands for: What am I supposed to do next? How am I supposed to do that? Accountability assistance to help them execute their actions Momentum is created by a lot of small wins You are your clients’ project manager. You can help them not only set but accomplish their goals, and you can be there to celebrate their wins with them.  How to help clients make better decisions Before you can help clients make better decisions you have to look at yourself. If you are expecting other people to change and telling someone else how to live their life you must first examine your own. We all have our own biases, what are yours? Do you get defensive when you hear feedback? The process of getting to know yourself is messy, nonlinear, and imperfect. Being introspective is challenging but it will help you become a better financial planner.  How do you give advice to people when you don’t even feel like you have made it yet yourself? If you are a young advisor you may be feeling a bit of imposter syndrome. You feel like an imposter because you are one. You haven’t had time yet to make the money that your clients have made. But that’s okay, it’s okay to be who you are. As long as you are continually trying to better yourself and do the best for your clients then you should feel no shame.  Challenge yourself by putting yourself in new situations and being around different types of people. You’ll learn more about yourself when you put yourself into uncomfortable situations. Putting yourself around new people will make you aware of different types of mindsets. Dan Crosby has some great advice for learning to up your game as a financial advisor. So listen to this interview to help you continue to grow your practice. Resources & People Mentioned Annie Duke Daniel Kahneman Connect with Dr. Dan Crosby BOOK - The Laws of Wealth by Dr. Dan Crosby BOOK - The Behavioral Investor by Dr. Dan Crosby BOOK - The Personal Benchmark by Dr. Dan Crosby PODCAST - Standard Deviations with Dan Crosby Dan Crosby on Twitter @DanielCrosby Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to The Agile Financial Planner Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
How you talk to people matters. You may have the best information, but if nobody is listening it won’t matter. Early on in the days of the Retirement Answer Man podcast, I worked with a professional audio coach. She really helped me improve the podcast by making me more aware of my voice. But I not only improved the podcast, but I also improved the way I communicate with my clients. People choose who and what they want to listen to. That’s why I’ve invited my audio coach, Tracy Goodwin, on the show today. She is here to help us improve our speaking skills and become better communicators. Listen in to hear why your voice matters. Outline of This Episode [1:22] I worked with a professional audio coach [8:00] Why is it so important to be confident in your voice and how you communicate? [19:01] Helpful tips to make you a better communicator [23:10] A lot of financial planning is helping people with delayed gratification [27:12] What tools can people use with their voice Why is it so important to be confident in your voice and how you communicate? People don’t realize that we build connections through our voice. Trust is built in your voice. It’s our connection piece. Are you communicating in a way that your clients can feel that they really trust you and know you? Sure, you have sales training and product knowledge, but all of that means nothing if your clients aren’t listening to what you are saying. As financial planners, we need to learn to speak to people in a more human way. Learning how to effectively communicate is one way to help you evolve as a financial planner. How to improve speaking skills to make you a better communicator When you are with clients you may feel that you need to show them what you know. You want to come off as the expert in your field. But rather than talking at them by throwing facts and figures in their face, think about having a conversation with them instead. People really just want to have a conversation. Doing so won’t make you come off as too casual. By having a conversation you can reveal your own communication style and you’ll take off some of the intensity that comes with being the expert. Discover how to convey your message to your clients by listening to Tracy Goodwin’s communication advice on this episode of The Agile Financial Planner.  What tools can people use with their voice? Our voice is really a tool that we can use to help us convey our message to our audience. But the audience will only listen when we present our message in an engaging way. Here are some tools that you can use with your voice to make you a more effective communicator.  Slow down. When you speak quickly you are just talking at people Pause. Pausing is a powerful tool that when used correctly allows people to process what you are saying.  Up and down. Louder and softer. Play with the cadence of your voice.  Melody. This is the movement in your voice and this is where trust is built. Be unpredictable. Creating unpredictability keeps people listening to you.  Not everyone wants to listen to their financial planner As financial planners, we often have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. It’s easy for our clients to tune us out. If we want to really help our clients we have to find ways to be heard. It’s important to learn how to speak so that our clients will listen and follow through. Tracy Goodwin has amazing advice to help us navigate how to effectively communicate with our clients. Find out what she has to say so that you can really connect with your clients.  Resources & People Mentioned My Nerds Eye View Guest Post BOOK - The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker Connect with Tracy Goodwin Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to The Agile Financial Planner Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
The agile financial planning method creates a fluid, ever-changing environment so I need organizational systems in place that can adapt to constant change. People wonder how I manage to get it all done. I have 2 podcasts, my financial practice, client meetings, the Rock Retirement Club, plus, I’m writing a book. Many people think that there is no way that they could ever have time to balance all of these things. But even though I do have a lot of balls in the air, the organizational systems I have in place ensure that I get it all done. Find out how I manage it all on this episode of The Agile Financial Planner.  Outline of This Episode [4:02] How I get it all done [10:11] We have rules of engagement to get everything done [17:51] Why this works for me Do your organizational systems ensure that you are spending time or passing time? On the previous episode, we talked about time. We’re either spending time or passing time. I feel that if you aren’t intentional about how you spend your time it will simply pass you by. The organizational systems I have in place help me ensure that I am not just passing time, but spending it intentionally.  It has taken me years to develop the systems that I have right now. But when implemented properly, my days and weeks flow smoothly. I love technology, but I don’t live in it. I use a combination of digital and analog systems that help keep me on track. My digital life I actually spent years searching for the perfect project management tool that would meld the different areas of my life together. I was looking for that unicorn, a place where I could seamlessly integrate everything, but I finally came to terms with the fact that that ideal system simply doesn’t exist for me. So now I embrace the separateness. My project management systems are purely digital. I actually use 3 different project management suites. This may seem excessive to you, but I see these different locales as being suited for the separate areas of my life. Listen in to find out why having 3 different project management suites actually helps keep me more organized.  My analog life In addition to the 3 online project management tools, I use 3 separate notebooks to help me plan my life. Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner helps me plan my days and weeks. I also have a client notebook which is highly organized where I keep an analog record of my client meetings. Without this tool, I wouldn’t have a clue what was said in each meeting. The notebook I use helps me prepare for meetings and remember where I am in the organizational process. Listen in to hear how I keep the details straight and set the agenda for my client meetings.  Slow is smooth, smooth is fast All of these separate organizational systems may seem cumbersome to you in this ever-increasingly digital world. But the fact that my processes slow me down makes me more effective. I use my organizational systems to keep me in check and ensure that I am serving my clients in the best way that I can. When I slow down things run more smoothly and I feel more in control of my life. What do you use to help keep you organized? How do you run your life? Resources & People Mentioned Michael Kitces blog article on agile planning Retirement Management Forum Redtail Asana Slack OmniFocus Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to The Agile Financial Planner Podcast Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
What is your true role as a financial advisor? On this episode of The Agile Financial Planner we’ll examine the decision making process so you can learn how to help your clients make better decisions in the future. You’ll learn how to create a framework to lead your clients to make informed financial decisions. We’ll also examine whether you are more of a financial advisor or a commissioned sales person. Learn what you can do to best serve your clients and help them make informed financial decisions by listening to this episode of The Agile Financial Planner.  Outline of This Episode [1:22] I recently chatted with someone who was used to working with a financial advisor who was really more of a commissioned salesperson [4:50] What is our role as true financial advisors? [10:12] Tools you can use What should the true role of a financial advisor be? Financial advisors can also be commissioned salespeople who distribute financial products. This role calls into question their intentions. Are they really there to serve their clients and help them make the best financial choices, or are they more interested in earning commissions? Fee-only financial advisors aren’t perfect either. We also have a vested interest in selling our own services, whether it’s hourly, retainer, or AUM. So what can we do as true advisors? How can we be a profession rather than a sales industry? How do we create a framework for our clients to make better financial decisions? Unfortunately, in finance there are no right or wrong choices. This is why it is so important to create a framework to make those choices. Your client encounters so many types of financial decisions. But if they have a solid framework to analyze their choices this can help them make decisions that align with their goals. Our role as true financial advisors is to inform our clients so we can help them make better financial decisions.  How can we a profession rather than a sales industry? You don’t want your clients to constantly question your motives. They need to know that you have their best interests at heart. There are 3 things you can consider to ensure that you are serving your clients as a true financial advisor.  Be open about any conflicts of interest.  Approach life with an open hand.  Step away from the optimization myth.  Financial planning is not a hard science, it’s a human science. Remember we are always dealing with incomplete information. How are you ensuring that you are a true advisor and not just a salesperson to your clients? Tools you can use to help you become a better financial advisor I love the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear. It’s a great book for teaching you how to think about your own habits and decisions. Many people don’t know this, but you can also get a journal to go along with the book. This journal is an excellent tool that you can use to implement the strategies laid out in Clear’s book. Listen in to learn how you can use the book and the journal to help you become a better financial planner.  Resources & People Mentioned BOOK - Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke BOOK - Atomic Habits by James Clear - get the journal to go with the Atomic Habits book! Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Of course, you want the practice of your dreams, but you already have a full day working as a financial planner. How will you ever find the time to create the practice that you really want? Even though you feel way too busy, are you really that busy? Or are you doing all the wrong things with your time? I challenge you to examine how you use your time. On this episode, I’ll share my own time management strategies. You’ll learn how to create an environment where you can focus on building the financial practice that you really want.  Outline of This Episode [2:22] What are the demands on your attention? [6:15] Time management strategies I use [14:10] Tips to help manage your time How do you use your time? Do you have an attention crisis? Seth Godin says you do. Even though all of us are given the same amount of time each day, some people do much more with it than others. If you want to create the financial practice of your dreams you’ll need to learn how to use the time you have to your advantage. Discover how to cut down on all the distractions that are constantly vying for your attention. Learn how to focus on what really needs your attention, and how to make time to plan your future.  Time is your most precious resource Let’s talk about time. As financial planners, we are usually more concerned with money than time. Time is the most precious resource we have. The supply always stays the same, you can’t rent it and you can’t buy it, time is inelastic. Even though many of us say that our time is precious, we don’t act like it. If you want to build an amazing financial practice, you’ll need to focus on managing your time.  There are 2 categories of time. You are either spending it or passing it. We all pass time by doing things like watching TV, surfing the internet, or scrolling social media. There are ways to set yourself up to spend time intentionally and stop the distractions. Learn how to cut out distractions and set yourself up to spend time intentionally on this episode of Financial Planner Freedom.  I cut out distractions in my workday by using these time management strategies When I first started getting serious about using my time wisely I turned the desk around in my office. That way people would see the back of my head rather than my face when they passed by. This made it a bit more challenging to pop in and say hi. It drastically reduced the random conversations and allowed me to stay focused on my tasks. I turned off the ringer and stopped answering my phone. All calls went to voicemail or email. I could then call people back at my convenience. If I received unsolicited emails and phone calls, I stopped replying to them.  I took a 3-year hiatus on industry conferences. I wanted to get away from the group-think mentality.  I stopped reading financial media. You’ll have to listen in to discover why I didn’t miss out on much information.  I permanently deleted my Facebook account.  Tips to help you focus and spend your time wisely Set your own rules. Don’t design your practice on what someone else thinks you should be doing. This is your practice, these are your rules.  Try the Freedom App on your computer. With this fantastic tool, you can schedule when you are allowed to interact in distracting behavior. The app will block the websites that you choose when you decide that you should be working on other tasks.  Time blocking is a great way to schedule your time. I plan a free day, a buffer day, and a focus day. Find out what I do on these days by listening in. You’ll also hear how you can time block more specific tasks.  I’ve recently started batching. I now batch when I do client work, record podcasts, outline shows, client reviews, and send client email. This has taken my time management to a new level.  I use Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner as my playbook for each day.  I’m not perfect at time management, life still intercedes. But by using these tools and time management strategies, I can set myself up for success. By always considering that my time is limited I am able to improve my time management muscles and get better about how I use my time.  Resources & People Mentioned Seth Godin BOOK - The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker Freedom App Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Finally, your financial planner career path is starting to take off. The beginning of a financial planning career is a lot like being in the Hunger Games. The difference is that we volunteer for this journey. Younger advisors often love the craft of financial planning but they soon discover that they signed up for a different role entirely. Find out how financial planning can be like the Hunger Games and what to do next once you have survived that journey. In this episode, you’ll learn how to plan what comes next in your financial planning career.  Outline of This Episode [3:22] Younger financial advisors love the craft of financial planning [4:06] Young financial advisors are living in a Hunger Games type environment [8:10] What does life look like after the Hunger Games period? [12:12] How do you grow? [22:40] Pro tips for acting on your vision Why do I compare being a new financial planner to being in The Hunger Games?  Being a new financial planner is a lot like being in the movie, The Hunger Games. There are emotional challenges. You’re cold and totally out of your element. As a recruit, you’re desperate to find clients, you cold call people and ask friends and family if you can manage their accounts. There’s dealing constantly with rejection. Nobody told you that being a new financial planner is more of a sales job than anything else. There are constantly changing alliances. In big firms people band together and team up, often looking for a senior advisor to team up with. Plus there is a myriad of artificial obstacles in the way. Few advisors actually survive this Hunger Games stage.  What does the financial planner career path look like after the Hunger Games period? Often after you have finally survived the Hunger Games period, you’re not in a great place. You’re saddled with debt since you didn’t earn much during that time. And you don’t really have a sound foundation for growth. Many financial planners will take any client they can get and don’t think much about their ideal clients. But this really is the perfect time for you to figure out the direction you want to take in the world. Dolly Parton once said, “Figure out who you are and then do it on purpose.” I’ve taken this quote to heart and every day I am living my life with purpose. Wouldn’t you like to as well? Follow these 3 steps to figure out who you are and grow the financial planning business you want Step 1 - Know that you have made it through the Hunger Games and congratulate yourself on this accomplishment. It’s time to acknowledge your hard work. Step 2 - Start to cast a vision for the next 3-5 years. Be specific about your vision--not just your business, but be specific about your life too. What will your life look like in 3-5 years? What types of clients do you want to work with? Think about where you want your office to be, what type of team you want, and how much free time you want.  Step 3- Find your direction. Now you can create a roadmap for yourself. Think about how to get from here to there. Should you create your own firm, how do you do that? How can you manage your time? Figure out if you are looking for collaboration.  4 Pro tips for taking the steps to grow the business you really want Avoid people that look down on your vision. You need to isolate yourself from the naysayers so that you can focus on where you want to go.  Find foxhole buddies that do share your vision. I did this by stepping away from financial circles. I learned from entrepreneurs in other industries and it expanded my own vision.  Consume information that prepares you for who you want to be. Sure we all like a little light reading. But if you want to change who you are you’ll have to start learning from people that have already done that.  Realize the person that you want to become is not who you are now. Your vision is based on who you are today. Remember that it’s okay that you are not that person yet, it will take time to get there.  Resources & People Mentioned MOVIE - The Hunger Games Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Are you worried about the trend toward free trading fees among custodians? It seems that custodians are in a race to the bottom. Many have now cust the costs of their transactions to zero. That’s great from the clients’ perspective, but what does that mean for you and me? How will the custodians make their money? And what’s next for financial advisors? These are the questions we will explore on this episode of Financial Planner Freedom. If this race to the bottom is beginning to concern you, you’ll want to listen in as we explore what zero transaction fees will look like for financial planners.  Outline of This Episode [1:32] What do zero transaction fees mean for you and me?  [4:26] How will custodians make up for lost revenue? [7:12] Too many advisors aren’t working hard enough for their clients [8:36] Why has there been an uptick in 401K lawsuits? So, now that they have free trading fees, how will custodians make money? Custodians are truly in a race to the bottom with many of them adopting the zero transaction fee model. TD Ameritrade is reportedly going to lose $900M a year from these free transactions. So how will they make their money? Perhaps they will make some money on cash management. They may be betting that interest rates go up, but haven’t we all been betting on that for years? They could make money on order flow by selling the flow of transactions. Or they could begin selling their own products like ETF’s.  Will custodians look to financial planners to make up for lost revenue? So far the race to the bottom with fees has not really hit us yet. Unfortunately, I think custodians will begin looking in all directions to recoup some of their lost revenue. They may begin to expect us to pay more basis points. They could also begin up charging us for services like CRM’s. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter! Email me, start a conversation with me on Twitter, or leave me a voicemail question by using the button at the bottom of the page at What does the race to the bottom mean for financial planners? Too many advisors aren’t working hard enough for their clients which actually leaves us with an opportunity. Now is the opportunity to sing for our dinner. We don’t need to take part in this race to the bottom. Our clients will now be evaluating us to see whether we are providing value. That makes it imperative that we be able to articulate our value to our clients. We’ll need to deliver that value to clients on a consistent and ongoing basis. The beauty is that we can control our own value. Are you prepared to demonstrate your value to your clients? The upswing in 401K lawsuits demonstrate how we need to reveal our value Have you noticed the uptick in 401K lawsuits? Employees are beginning to sue the fiduciaries of their 401K’s. These lawsuits are on the rise because clients don’t see the value they receive. In this world of free transactions, we need to be able to demonstrate our value consistently. Agile financial planning is more important than ever. Over the next few episodes, I’ll help you learn why you need to use agile financial planning in your practice and how to demonstrate your value to your clients. Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Keeping up with client accountability can be tricky. Sometimes they just don’t follow through. Have you ever left a client meeting and wondered if they were going to bother to follow up with your recommendations? Part of the agile planning process is to hold the client accountable. I use SMART Sprints as a tool to help hold my clients accountable. Find out what Smart Sprints are and how they help me further my clients’ goals and hold them accountable on this episode of Financial Planner Freedom.  Outline of This Episode [1:22] Pierre asks if I have found a good financial planner project management tool or [7:36] Smart sprints help the client know what the next step is [12:20] What are examples of smart sprints Do I use a project management tool to work with my clients? I have a listener question from Pierre in South America. He asks if I have found a good financial planner project management tool or system for collaborative planning with clients. I have used Basecamp, Trello, and I currently use Asana to collaborate with my team. The project can be as simple or as complex as needed with these tools. They help the team know where things are in the process and they keep the flow moving. I love using Asana with my team. However, I don’t use a project management tool with my clients. Listen in to find out why! Client accountability is part of the agile planning process By now you know that the agile planning process is an integral part of my financial planning practice. I’ve discussed why agile planning is important and how we take on a project manager role with clients. Today I describe how I use SMART Sprints to help with client accountability and to help them stay on top of their goals. I never leave a meeting without clear instructions on how the client can take the next step forward.  What is a SMART Sprint? I always end a client meeting by leaving my clients an action plan to take. They know who is doing what and by when and their action plan is labeled a SMART sprint. SMART is an acronym used in goal setting. Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound The sprint aspect means that their goal is something they can act upon quickly and not something drawn out over years. We use SMART Sprints to help drive the project forward and to maintain client accountability.  What are examples of SMART Sprints? Since retirement is not only a huge financial change but a huge life change, I take a holistic approach to financial planning. I don’t just offer financial advice. In my practice, I help clients set goals in 4 areas: health, professional, finance, and relationships. For example: if a client is wondering how they will spend 24/7 with their spouse for the next 30 years after working separate careers 40 hours or more a week, then a SMART Sprint goal may be to set up a date night once a week. What tools do you use to help your clients stay accountable? Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
In the last episode, I spoke about the 5 pillars of the Agile Financial Planning process. It sounds great when you first hear it - and there’s nothing about it that is complicated or confusing. But you may not see right away how you can apply it immediately in your financial planning practice. So, on this episode, I want to walk you through what I consider to be the basics of an Agile financial planning approach. Listen carefully and ask yourself this question, “What is the most important thing we’re trying to achieve for the client at each stage of the process?” Outline of This Episode [0:35] Why I’ve become with the “Life Coach” label [3:55] Love to my friend, Alex for his boldness and willingness to stand up for respect [5:51] Let’s get into the agile financial planning process [18:05] Think of a doctor to imagine what your role should look like in the process [19:46] Investment strategy is one of many levers - not the most important FOUNDATIONAL ASSUMPTION: You must view the process as a collaboration For a very long time, financial planners have approached financial planning as the expert, extracting tons of data from their clients to devise a recommended plan of action. That’s great - for as far as it goes. The problem is that it’s most often a painful, laborious process that clients endure rather than enjoy. To make Agile financial planning work, you have to turn that approach upside down. You want the process to be a collaboration between you and your client, not a “do as I say” top-down directive. When you make this shift, it fundamentally changes the way you go about what you do for clients. And believe it or not - they begin to enjoy the process and even get excited about it. Step 1: Make your financial planning a project management exercise Traditionally, we financial planners jump right into the financial planning session with our clients, dissecting everything, getting anal about the numbers, and making them feel overwhelmed. What I’d suggest is this: Rather than dive straight into the deep end of the financial assessment pool, wade into the shallow end first - and do it together. You’ll be able to get into a more detailed analysis as you go. You want to build momentum working together so that trust is established and the benefits of the process can remain in clear focus. Start at a high level and give clients the permission to “guess” at things they don’t know and to dream big about their future. Have them categorize everything as “needs” and “wants” so that they get to make the decisions about what their ultimate goals will be. Get ballpark figures on assets, capital, etc. You’re attempting to get them involved easily and quickly and be excited about it - so they don’t get bogged down in the details. The goal is to get to a feasible strategic plan that’s focused on the things the client cares about. Step 2: Create a one year project - define the baby steps Once you’ve got the overview out of the way and are establishing trust with your clients at every step along the way, you want to step into 4 specific areas of interest that will help you understand your client and help them understand what they really want. 1 - Life goals (financial and non-financial) 2 - Their cash flow (spending and income) 3 - Their net worth 4 - Issues of risk management (estate planning, insurance needs, etc.) Discussing these together uncovers opportunities to address each of them in positive ways - and to address current practices that are inhibiting each of them. While some of the things you see during these talks will seem shiny and attractive, keep this in mind: It’s important to prioritize them together to pinpoint the things you uncover that are the most significant and needle-moving right now. The shiny things often won’t do much to move things toward their long-term strategic plan. It’s often the unattractive or boring levers that move the needle forward the most. Focus on those and you’ll see results more quickly. Where do investment management and investment strategies fit in? You may have noticed by now, I haven’t once broached the topic of investment management or investment strategies. Why? Because those are one line item in this entire process - not the focus. Of course, you’ll get to those things and they will be a very important part of the process, but they cannot be the focus. When we make it the focus, clients get bored and bail out of the process - because it’s not talking about the things they really care about - their dreams and their future. In future episodes. I’ll address the investment side of the equation, but for now, let’s get clear on our client’s deepest desires regarding their future. That is the fuel that will keep us and them going over the entire planning process.
Do you use an agile financial planning process? If you’re listening to this show you are probably interested in creating the practice of your dreams that serves both your clients and your family. In doing so, you need to understand how to best help your clients while being able to achieve your own financial goals. In this episode of Financial Planner Freedom, you’ll learn why agile financial planning is the best way to serve your clients and yourself. Outline of This Episode [3:22] How financial planning is like project management [5:58] Collaborating with clients helps both clients and planners [9:43] Don’t try to predict the future [11:56] Prioritization is key [14:25] Flexibility Are financial planners in a race to the bottom? There is a trend downward in asset management fees that is largely driven by financial advisors who would rather work with cheaper investment tools than cut their own fees.  I think this downward spiral will soon spill over to advisors and planners. There will be a race to the bottom in fees if you want to compete as a financial advisor.  If you don’t want to participate in the race to the bottom (maybe you enjoy feeding your family) then you’ll have to think about how you add value to people’s lives and be able to articulate that to your clients.  How can you use agile project management to enhance your financial practice On the previous episode, we compared traditional planning to the waterfall approach of project management.  But going forward, the trend in project management software has become an agile project management approach. Agile project management tries to be lean, reactive, and flexible. As new risks and opportunities are identified the software can act quickly and take advantage of opportunities and mitigate the risks. Just like in agile project management, agile financial planning allows you to manage your clients’ funds in a more flexible and intuitive way. Listen in to discover why agile financial planning is the way of the future. The 5 principles of agile financial planning Collaboration rather than delegation - Many clients want to delegate tasks to an advisor, and advisors love that. But when they simply delegate what they want rather than collaborate with you, you’ll both miss out. By working together with your clients you’ll be able to come up with better solutions Predicting the future will prove you wrong - As financial geeks, we love to create spreadsheets predicting the markets, taxes, and finances. But we can't know what will happen in the future. It's too unpredictable. Instead of trying to predict the future, help your clients build a framework for a fluid environment. Work on what is actionable today. Prioritize - There is so much to think about when it comes to personal finance: budgeting, long term, and short term savings goals, how to save, cash reserves. All of this can become overwhelming when you try to do it all and convey it to clients. The old system tried to tackle all of these areas at once. But with agile financial planning instead, we prioritize. Look for biggest risks and opportunities first to help the client and yourself focus. Flexibility helps you dodge the curveballs - Having flexibility creates options so it’s important to not make decisions that you can’t undo.  Communication is key in agile methodology -  Have frequent little conversations rather than big ones. Frequent communication allows you to identify risks and make changes as needed. Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Think for just a moment about the typical way we planners and advisors engage our clients in the financial planning process. If they aren’t number people who really like the details, they are likely bored out of their minds every single time they sit down with us. Right? As well, the things we require them to go through to give us the data we are convinced we need in order to help them are as painful as a root canal without novocaine. Seriously, it is.  We’ve got to fix that if we’re going to have an amazing practice that serves amazing people by helping them achieve an amazing lifestyle. This episode is about that. Outline of This Episode [0:42] The problems in the financial planning industry you need to solve [2:01] Help I need from you about building a powerful financial planning practice [3:12] Walk with me through the typical financial planning process [12:00] How financial planning is like the Waterfall project management process For a long time, I was part of the financial planning industry’s problem I don’t talk much about my background - mainly because I don’t think it’s always relevant to what I’m talking about today. But this time, it is. I’ve been a professional in the financial planning industry for 27 years. In that time I’ve worked at a brokerage firm, at a major investment bank, I’ve owned a large RIA, and am now a single practitioner. I’ve seen it all - and I’ve done it all - and I’ve come to discover that we are doing it wrong. Look at the painful process we put our clients through When you were taught to work with clients, you learned a step by step system for doing financial planning. Let’s look at the steps: Establish rapport Identify goals Identify resources available Provide analysis Present options to clients (there's almost always a gap they need to fill) That’s our typical approach, right? If we take a moment to put ourselves into the shoes of our clients, we’ll come to understand that the process we’re using is not fun. In fact, it’s painful - and the recommendations we give to our clients are limited. One of the financial planning problems we need to fix is the solutions we offer After we do our assessment for a client, what do we tell them they need to do? We tell them that they need to do something painful if they want to make up for the gap between what they currently have in place and what they want their future to be. Here are the typical options: Save more money (which often costs them their present lifestyle) Work longer (How many people are eager to do that?)  Take more investment risk (How comfortable is that?):  Settle for less later in life (That’s a bummer).  Or some combination of these. Honestly, those are ALL sucky choices. No wonder people don’t like to do financial planning. How do we fix these financial planning problems? Full disclosure: I’m not going to give you the answers on this episode. But I am going to help you think through why we have to do the following two things: 1 - Streamline the financial planning process, and... 2 - Make it engaging and inspiring so we can collaborate with clients and enjoy the process I’m not the only financial planner out there who makes this a primary objective in working with my clients - so don’t hear me saying I’m the only one doing things this way. But I am here to tell you that if you are willing to make these two objectives front and center for you and your clients, you’ll be able to build a practice that serves amazing people in a way that helps them create an amazing life. Keep listening. There’s more to come. Connect With Roger Whitney Roger @  Roger on Twitter: @Roger_Whitney Subscribe to Financial Planner Freedom Click here and choose your preferred app Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
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