Planning a new journey for your(self) clients

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Buddha

We are living in strange, difficult and confusing times.

No, it’s not because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s because we’re living in times where we’ve forgotten about what really matters most. We’ve forgotten who we need to be put first, because we’ve become distracted by what to put first.

We begin our days with a list of what to do, and most of the times these tasks overlook the people involved. It’s not unique to the last few months, it’s a journey that our culture has been on for decades, possibly centuries.

As independent financial advisers this could mean that our client is no longer our client, their money has become our client. This has been an easy trap to fall into, but it’s one that we can recognize, acknowledge and out of which we can still climb!

This is one of the reasons why we created the South African Independent Financial Advisors Association (SAIFAA), why we believe that independent financial advisers (IFAs) need a passionate and dedicated voice, why we’ve create the Certified Post Retirement Practitioner® (CPRP®) certification and why we’re looking at tools to help advisers plan a new journey for their clients… and themselves!

Klaus von Pressentin is one such IFA who has embraced this journey for himself, and his clients. In late February of this year he became our first graduate in the CPRP® programme. He has committed to equipping himself to advise and guide his clients and their families towards a better understanding of the psychology of the journey towards, and beyond, retirement.

“I have a few clients where dementia is a challenge for the spouse and/or family, especially where decisions about their [assets] and finance have to be made,” said von Pressentin when chatting with our founder, Derek Smorenburg, shortly after receiving his certification.

He went on to say, “I … try to get clients to understand the difference between types of advisers. But in most cases they already value my independent advice. The existing trust is growing where I can use the knowledge gained through the CPRP-program. But now I can show them the certificate I just received, and that will help going forward.”

The journey doesn’t end here. It’s only the beginning.

We believe that planning a new journey for your clients has to begin with planning a new journey for yourself too. Upskilling (with the CPRP® programme) and adopting different planning approaches are two ways to commence this journey.

And, as an IFA, you have the freedom to do this! 

One of our approaches is to look at our clients in two specific groups – accumulation and decumulation. We’ll share more about this in a separate article, but in a nutshell this approach can be explained as follows:

Clients in the accumulation phase are busy building and growing their asset base towards retirement whilst clients in the decumulation phase are now living off the asset base that they have accumulated.

Upon a high-level survey of our current SAIFAA members we have found that 40-60% of our IFA members have clients who are already in the decumulation phase. If we add the strange, difficult and confusing times we’re living in and acknowledge that perhaps our planning has left us unarmed and our clients unprepared… we need to act fast.

The need to rethink how we advise and guide our clients is dire and immediate.

We need to start employing human advisory and family strategies that are underpinned by compassion and empathy. We cannot advise on appropriate journeys for our clients that exclude the full family, and this is not easy! We’ve already been working with several of our members around strategies that include video meetings to include children or parents who live in multiple countries.

Whilst digital platforms squash the boundaries and challenges of geography, we still need to have the right tools to engage more deeply with our clients, and help them choose appropriate solutions for their wealth. Health impairment, joint and survivor (with profit and inflation linked) annuities are just one of the ideas that we’re helping our members with and imploring product providers to create.

It’s time to remember who matters most. As we continue to grow, develop courses (mostly online now!) and create online webinars, we hope that you will join us on this journey.

If you’re not on board yet – you can begin by being compassionate with yourself first. You can prioritize building into your personal skill set and exploring new conversations to have with your clients. We have a wide base of experts, a solid cornerstone in our CPRP®  programme and a combined industry legacy that spans close to six decades.

We know what the journey looks like, will you help us change it?

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