by Mitch Anthony

There are people who have money, and there are people who are rich.” — Coco Chanel

When I first introduced the concept of financial life planning almost 20 years ago and published those ideas in Your Clients for Life, we were at the very beginning of what became a revolution in the financial services industry.

How times have changed! What was once considered a radical idea is now accepted practice in the financial services industry. Life-centered Planning™ is here to stay.

In March of this year, Steve Sanduski and I launched The ROL Advisor program. Based on the reaction to the program so far, we’ve hit a nerve.

Financial planning starts where life planning leaves off. Contrary to what many believe––clients and advisors alike––you don’t start with a financial plan and then work a client’s life plan into it; instead, you start with a life plan and then build a financial plan that makes their life plan a reality.

Life-centered planning changes the description of the business advisors are really in and affects what they are being compensated for in the minds of their clients. As clients see it, compensation is no longer just about transactions because they clearly receive more value from the discussion about goals and transitions than from the facilitation of a trade. Because clients no longer need an advisor to simply facilitate a transaction, the service they are willing to pay for (either through commissions or fees) will be relevant and customized advice that helps them negotiate key life transitions and achieve personal goals.

It’s not enough to help clients retire based solely on their expenses, they need guidance on living the life they wish to lead right now and into the future. The issues people deal with on a daily basis aren’t whether the markets are up, down, or sideways, or whether they own the right mutual funds. People are more concerned about their children, their grandchildren, their health, their careers, and more. In other words, it’s about them as individuals––each of whom has unique goals and dreams.

Your clients are trying to run their lives, not their money. The two are, of course, inextricably bound in their minds—and there is no question that one affects the other. No matter how much money each of your clients has, chances are that during the course of a day they will think more about where their life is and where they want to be, than they ever will think about where their money is invested. For your clients, money is a means to an end. Life-centered planning keeps that perspective front and center.

Here are three steps you can take to help you get started on the road to life-centered planning. If you’re already there, you may pick up a few new ideas you hadn’t thought about before:

Identify your client’s personal and financial goals
  • Discover the extent that your client has built a life plan for the future.
  • Clarify your client’s short-term and long-term life priorities in all areas of life.
  • Redefine such vague terms as retirement and financial independence in terms of your client’s life plan.
  • Be sure you and your client understand his or her core values and needs as a first step in creating goals.
  • Identify all the people who will be affected by the life plan and financial plan.
Clarify your client’s present financial situation
  • Identify gaps between where your client is today and where he or she wants to be in life.
  • Discuss your client’s views and beliefs regarding money.
  • Ask how your client arrived at his or her present situation.
Identify your client’s financial problems that create barriers to achieving financial independence
  • What are the important life stressors that could affect the financial plan?
  • What transitions in your client’s life might occur soon?
  • How does your client’s view of and habits with money relate to a view on life? Are there conflicts?
  • Does your client plan on working and earning in the post-retirement years?

Life-centered planning works because it provides more than a return on investment—it provides a return on life™ . Life-centered planning helps clients enjoy a fulfilling life with the assets they have, while considering their goals and life transitions. Your clients want financial piece of mind, as well as a good life.

Remember, most people measure success in life more on the quality of their personal relationships than on the quantity of their possessions…they know what money can buy and what it can’t.

© 2017 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony advises financial services organizations throughout the world. An industry pioneer, he is a popular speaker and consultant, and the developer of MyFLPTools, a subscription-based service that provides a suite of discovery tools for financial services professionals. He and Steve Sanduski have developed the Retirement Coaching Program and ROL Advisor to help advisors build a Life-Centered Planning™ practice. A regular contributor to Financial Advisor magazine, Mitch is the author of more than a dozen books including the industry bestseller, StorySelling for Financial Advisors and The New Retirementality, now in its fourth edition. Contact Mitch at [email protected] or visit