by Mitch Anthony

One of the benefits of being a financial advisor is the fulfillment you get by helping your clients bring meaning to their money. There is no better way to do that than by helping them integrate giving into their plan. An integral part of any financial plan is philanthropy—giving doesn’t have to cost much and isn’t defined solely by the size of one’s donation. In fact, some of the best acts of giving—such as volunteering or donating personal belongings to a needy family—cost nothing. The return, however, is priceless.

Giving is the ultimate goal of what I describe as the Owe-Grow-Live-Give™ approach to life: owe to grow, grow to live, and live to give. Not only is giving something you can discuss with clients who have more financial resources than they’ll ever need, you can also have the conversation with those with more modest incomes. As most of us have experienced, acts of giving can benefit those doing the giving as much as those on the receiving end.

The World Happiness Report considers generosity one of the key traits of the happiest nations on earth. Not surprisingly, the least happy countries scored low on generosity. According to the World Giving Index, there has been a resurgence of younger people giving in monetary and non-monetary ways. Clearly, people of all ages and incomes understand the importance of integrating giving into their lives. As advisors, you can help your clients achieve not only a level of freedom and independence but also meaning to their lives.

In case you’re interested, here are the top five “giving” countries, according to the index:

  1. Myanmar
  2. USA
  3. New Zealand
  4. Canada
  5. Australia

The index ranks countries by criteria including the following: helping a stranger, donating money, and volunteering time. Two of the three require no cash outlay—yet have an enormous impact.

Many people, including some of your clients, are rethinking their lives after being forced out of careers they may have had for decades. They’re choosing to integrate giving into their lives because of the significance it brings to them. People deliberately making this transition have wrestled with the idea that there must be more to life than sitting in a cubicle, collecting a paycheck. These folks often find themselves asking the question, “What am I living for?” and are motivated by three common feelings:

  • Dissatisfaction with the status quo
  • Desire to serve others
  • Sense of calling to be a part of something bigger

Dissatisfaction comes with the realization that material wealth cannot satisfy spiritual appetites. The old adage, “money can’t buy happiness,” comes to mind. Desire to serve comes after the epiphany we can satisfy our spiritual appetites when we serve others—in other words, when we live to give. A sense of calling is that inner voice leading us to do something that has a positive and lasting impact beyond our own small world.

Interestingly, those individuals forced out of the workforce often come to the same conclusions after the initial shock wears off. For those folks, volunteering can also be a lifesaver by giving them meaning as well as new opportunities during what can be a pretty traumatic transition. It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re meeting with clients who are going through this transition.

The means and methods by which people give are incredibly diverse. Some give to causes they believe in, which lends an extra layer of meaning to what they do to earn that money. Still others give back by lending their expertise and skills to causes and organizations that are making a difference in people’s lives. People are giving at different levels of commitment: some give a day or two a month, while others give a part or all of every day. Some help by shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, walking a friend’s dog, or donating food to a local food pantry. It really doesn’t matter what the act is—what matters is that they act.

The important thing for all these people is that they feel they’ve translated their abilities and assets from self-serving to the realm of compassion and empathy. Whether people are in a position of means that enables them to devote themselves full-time to philanthropy, or they wish to simply do something after losing their employment, the result is the same: Giving feels great, and you get much more in return.

My goal in life has always been to make a difference, and I am in a privileged position to be able to give generously. My hope is that each of you will encourage your clients (and lead by example) to give back and do something that will not only help others, but also help your clients grow as human beings.

Freedom is the goal with financial life planning…freedom to give is the ultimate goal.

© 2016 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc.and the Financial Life Planning Institute, the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs for the financial services industry.

For almost two decades, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.

Mitch is a consistently top-rated presenter who has spoken to groups ranging from 10 to more than 10,000. He has been named one of the financial services industry’s top “Movers & Shakers” for his pioneering work. Through the Institute, he has partnered with Texas Tech University, the University of Georgia, and Utah Valley University to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs.

Mitch is a sought-after expert for the media, and a regular columnist for Financial Advisor magazine. His columns have appeared on CBS MarketWatch and in the Journal of Financial Planning. His original comic strip “Stanley Brambles, CFG (Certified Financial Guru)”appears monthly in the print edition of Research magazine. Mitch is also host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.

Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by “Financial Advisor” magazine as the number one “must-read” book for financial professionals. Mitch’s other books include The New Retirementality (now in its 4th edition), From the Boiler Room to the Living RoomYour Clients for LifeYour Client’s Story, and The Financial Lit-KitThe Cash in the HatThe Bean is Not Green, and Where Did the Money Go?. For information on these books and more resources, click here. Contact Mitch at [email protected].