Life-Centered Financial Planning Essentials: Don’t Start the Conversation with Goals

Have you ever asked a client what his or her goals are, only to be met with a deer-in-the-headlights response? Most people are so caught up in the present that they haven’t yet framed a portrait for the future. Goals are an important conversation, but they need to be addressed at the right time and in the proper context.

There is a place for a “goals” conversation—just not in the initial, formative stage of the relationship.

A better place to start is with life transitions—the changes, passages, and concerns taking place in the here and now––the real-life episodes your clients are encountering on the road of life. Consider this:

  • Goals are what we want to happen.
  • Transitions are what is happening.

Do you want to anchor your relationships with clients on events that will happen or on those that might happen?

For advisors intent on building serious lifetime relationships, conversations about goals and dreams are not the place to start—they are too fuzzy, too elusive, too susceptible to impulse and fad to suffice as the foundational dialogue in that relationship. Instead, focus on the here and now: the coming-soon-to-a-life-near-you realities, concerns, and transitions of everyday life.

Life transitions impact both the well-being of your client and the well-being of your practice.

There is nothing we can do to change what’s happened in the last 12 months, but there is plenty we can do in the next 12 months when it comes to preparing for what is ahead for clients.

Any planner that neglects this conversation does so at his or her own risk. If you’re not proactively addressing life transitions, you run the very real risk of losing the business to the life-centered financial planner who is.

Learn more in Life Centered Financial Planning: How to Deliver Value that Will Never be Undervalued, available at local or online bookstores as well as at