In my work with financial planners, I often refer to “The Value of Planning”—an article written by Bob Veres for his July 2004 issue of Inside Information. Here is one of the excerpts that I find especially poignant:
There are no statistics on this, but I have yet to find a person who is not working with a financial advisor who has taken the time to identify what he/she really wants out of life. If you think about it for half a second, you realize that this is an incredibly sad, tragic situation. The vast majority of people in our advanced, prosperous society have not taken the time to figure out what they really want out of the all-too-brief time they will spend on this planet. And because they don’t know their destination, you know they will never reach it. They are, in a very real sense, doomed unless acted on by a powerful outside force.
Although published nearly six years ago, Bob’s observation seems to be more relevant than ever—especially in light of the impact of the financial crisis on the American psyche. In fact, this economic shakeup appears to be the much needed “powerful outside force” that Bob refers to, and one that has served as an important wake-up call.
Jim Wallis echoes this point of view in “Good News About a Bad Economy,” an opinion column he wrote for the March 2010 AARP Bulletin:
The Great Recession that has gripped the world, defined the moment and captured all of our attention has revealed a profound values crisis. Just beneath the surface of the economics debate, a deep national reflection is begging to take place and, indeed, has already begun in people’s heads, hearts and conversations. It raises questions about our personal, family and national priorities; our habits of the heart; our measures of success; the values of our families and our children; our spiritual well-being; and the ultimate goals and purposes of life—including our economic life.
Wallis goes on to explain that this time in history “could be a transformational moment—one of those times that comes around only occasionally.” He stresses to his readers: “We don’t want to miss the opportunity to rediscover our values.”
And, as financial planners, I implore you not to miss this unprecedented opportunity to engage your clients in important conversations that will help them clarify what is truly important to them and to define (or redefine) their priorities. You will find that more than ever before, your clients will be open to this dialogue and to engaging in a process that clearly links meaningful life goals to their financial goals. I believe that there is no better way to “put your clients’ interests first” and to truly make a difference in the lives of those you serve.