Looking at it another way – talking and thinking about money is not boring

I have been a financial adviser now for over 40 years and one of the most interesting aspects of my work is to learn about my clients and their needs and objectives for their lives. They arrive in my office saying, for example that they have just sold a house, inherited some money or are considering retirement and they expect that I will instantly talk about products which they can use to invest this money and some advisers will do this. However, I look at it another way. I keep very quiet and I listen. I ask them to tell me what they want to do with their lives and it is only then that I can work out a plan for their money that will help them fulfil their objectives.

In some ways it is like buying a car, or certainly for a woman wanting to buy a car. The salesman can tell me how fast the car will travel and the fuel consumption but that is not the starting point, I need him to listen to me and my needs. I need a car which is easy to park, has lots of whizzy gadgets that tells me when I am going to hit a wall (I am short and seeing all four corners of my car has been a lifetime struggle!) has good SATNAV because many of my clients live in obscure locations and has good support on the seats for my bad back, only when those objectives have been satisfied will I start to listen to the technical information.

Money is amazing not in itself but in the way it can change lives. Just think about how a small amount of money can give clean water to a child or family in an underdeveloped economy or giving a friend or relative an amount of money to pay for an educational course or to learn to play an instrument may change their lives. I am not suggesting that we should all start giving away our money but rather that we should think about our objectives for ourselves and our families and how best we can use our money to achieve this. In my planning I frequently suggest that clients should ear mark certain accounts for particular purposes and it amazing how much more interest they show in the performance of this investment when they have this mindset. I can think of one client who has little interest in investment, but has ‘ringfenced’ a certain amount of money to pay for her Granddaughter’s University education – the first thing she says to me when we have a meeting is – how is the University investment progressing? She has some of the money invested in ethical funds and the client is now taking a keen interest in the companies in which the ‘University fund’ is invested.

It is the beginning of a new year and a new decade –  I would like you to make it a year of looking at money a different way and I will be writing a series of articles on this subject during the coming months, so do come back for more.