News article

Guest blog from Chris Budd at The Initiative for Financial Wellbeing

The Initiative for Financial Wellbeing (IFW) is holding a conference in Bristol on May 25th.

Yardstick have been supporters of the IFW since its foundation, and we are pleased to have secured a reduced rate for you. Just follow this link to get your ticket with the discount.

Chair of the IFW, Chris Budd, explains what you might get from attending the conference.


Helping clients to be happier, not just wealthier, has lots of advantages.

More loyal, even ambassadorial clients.

And it’s a really fun way to be a financial planner.

As our Vice-Chair Ruth Sturkey says – “Becoming a financial wellbeing orientated financial planner is the next logical step in financial advice. If we think of product advice as version 1.0, financial planning with cashflow as version 2.0, then financial wellbeing is version 3.0”.

But where do you start?

Here are a few areas that you may wish to consider:

1. Silence 

In my experience, 95% of financial advisers consider themselves to be above average listeners (that statistic is taken from the same survey that says that 95% of all statistics are made up on the spot).

One of the biggest changes I ever made as an adviser was training to become a business coach back in 2013. I have been advocating advisers getting trained in coaching skills ever since.

To be clear, I am not talking about ‘financial coaching’. This goes much deeper into clients’ relationship with money, and, whilst fabulous, is not for everyone.

What I am advocating is simply getting better at questioning and listening.

This is not as easy as it might sound. Active listening and the use of silence are skills that need to be taught and learned.

The power of a client truly beginning to understand what they want out of life, simply by being given the space to talk, is immense. It frames the conversation to be about their lives, not their money. As a result, clients are far more likely to be an advocate of your services.

2. Objectives

The vast majority of ‘Your Objectives’ sections of a suitability letter are a variation of the following:

Your objective is to ‘achieve above inflation return on your investments’. That is not an objective; it is an outcome.

Some financial planners will go deeper, but even then, they tend to stop with a vague ‘your objective is to live the life you want to lead’.

Helping a client understand what will make them happy is key to delivering financial wellbeing orientated planning.

A word of warning, however – research by the IFW and Aegon suggests that language such as ‘happy’ doesn’t play well with clients. You might instead choose to use a phrase such as ‘future self’ in your marketing.

3. Understanding happiness

Even the basics of financial wellbeing theory are revelatory. Multiple studies have shown that a person who sees money as the objective will be less happy than they otherwise would be. Likewise, studies show that more money above a certain level does not bring more happiness.

I do hear many planners say that they already do this.

However, this goes much deeper than just asking a question such as “What does money mean to you?”. Making wellbeing the focus of the relationship can be a significant change in focus for financial planners (how to do this is just one of the topics at the IFW conference).

4. Behave yourself

Behavioural finance has become a hot topic over the last few years, and the subject of many conferences.

Understanding the theory is great, but how do you use this knowledge to create better client outcomes?

A good place to start might be to look at your own behavioural biases.

Is the advice you give truly based on what the client wants? Or is it somehow influenced by your own values and beliefs? A really honest answer to this question will almost always be that your own biases influence the advice you give to clients.

5. Come and have some fun!

Many years ago, when I first started as a financial adviser, I never attended industry events. Then one day I went to an IFP conference.

There, I met lots of people that thought the same way as I did and had a similar approach to financial planning.

I had found my tribe.

This is one of the main functions of the IFW.

Come and join us and meet like-minded people.

You can learn about helping clients to be happier, not just wealthier, but you can also learn from, and have fun with, people who have similar objectives and who have had success changing the focus of their service AND their marketing to one that is focussed on financial wellbeing.

I would love to meet you at the Conference.

Please do come and say hello.

If you cannot make the Conference, join the IFW anyway, and we can meet at one of our many events.

Buy your conference ticket and/or sign up to the IFW today!

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