Serious changes in the financial planning industry have followed each market downturn since the 1970s. Certified financial planners were born out of the early ’70s market collapse; ethics troubles in the ’80s replaced commissions with fees; and the latest plummet is shifting priorities from simply making money to making money for a life of meaning.
At least that’s how GEORGE KINDER sees it. Known as the founder and father of life planning, Kinder says the best planners have always taken clients’ lifestyle goals into account, but the emphasis is now more formal. So what’s different? Life planning starts with questions, Kinder says. He asks the following three up front: If you had all the money in the world, how would you live your life? If you only had five to 10 years left to live, how would you live your life? And if your doctor told you you only had 24 hours left to live, what would you have missed out on?
Armed with those answers, a good life planner can build a financial scheme that allows clients to live the lives they want. “In a way, we play the mediator between traditional financial goals and these passions people have,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean life planners just sit around asking big questions and posturing. They’re still money managers, and as such can provide all the gritty details on stocks, mutual funds, 401Ks, college savings, tax shelter vehicles, and so on. So far there is no formal college credit-type training, but a list of CFPs who have completed Kinder’s life planning courses can be found at www.kinderinstitute.com.