Our family conversations are known for analyzing businesses: what they do that is genius and what they do that limits their customer appeal. We also talk about how to turn what you love to do into an additional engine of income. Entrepreneurship isn’t just a way of life for a few, it is life: sustainably doing what you love to do every day and getting paid for it.
While I realize that this is not the core business of wealth management, nor is it even the next two layers, Life Planning is the ocean within which wealth management swims. It was with interest, therefore, that I read the Financial Planning magazine article, “A Bigger Pie” by Katie Kuehner-Hebert in which she wrote:
Traditional financial advice focuses on depriving, reducing, cutting and eliminating, Pagliarini says. “Stretching your resources is a good idea, but when the entire focus is on conservation, getting by and making do, you lose the capacity to identify opportunities.”
Pagliarini explores with clients ways they might make more money in their free time, a focus that an increasing number of retirement planning advisors offer as more clients consider the daunting costs of living comfortably in their elderly years.
The article goes on to talk about how most financial planners don’t feel comfortable with these conversations. They don’t have the right kind of skills and insights to give them career counseling or life coaching advice. I know exactly how they feel. Although I’ve worked with many small business owners and have learned a great deal of small business sense I recognize the limitations of that knowledge. Every business category is unique and requires unique knowledge which is often learned the hard way in the first two years of business or else it is not learned at all and the business goes under.
Despite all that, it is still important for an advisor to explore a client’s dreams, hopes and wishes and then give them the encouragement to see if some of those might be fulfilled with drive, planning and action. Again from the article:
“A lot of times, when we’re speaking with a client about his wishes and goals, when it comes down to it, it’s just dreaming, hoping and wishing,” Pagliarini says.
“They don’t necessarily want to do what it takes to get those dreams.”
I believe that what a financial planner can do is very simple, but very powerful. They can listen. They can see when the client’s eyes light up. And then they can encourage the client to explore the subject matter that lights their eyes. Life is about finding your passion and pursuing it. It may not be your full-time vocation, but there are many hours in a week which are not your vocation. Again from the article:
When clients are dissatisfied with their current earnings and future prospects, Pagliarini helps them realize their passions and imagine how they could earn money from them. If a client is considering starting a side business, Pagliarini recommends ways to improve skills, such as joining Toastmaster’s International to become better at public speaking and leadership.
Many community colleges offer entrepreneurship classes, teaching students how to write business plans, market, search for partners and startup capital, hire and prepare for potential legal issues, such as forming corporations or creating sole proprietorships.
Pagliarini might suggest ways clients can improve their status at work, making them better candidates for promotions. Employees can take classes to polish their negotiation skills, learn how to network or develop better relationships with their bosses.
Pagliarini says he regularly gives clients books to read, including, Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success by Rory Vaden,about creating self-discipline, and Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi, which dissects ways to network.
I would add to Pagliarini’s list of books everything that Barbara Sher has written.
Most of entrepreneurship is having an internal locus of control. Pretend for one day – just one day – that you are really pursuing that dream and take action. The process is contagious. Again, a quote from Pagliarini:
“Once people start improving themselves – taking a class, reading books, boosting their skills – they often have an entirely new outlook on themselves and their lives,” he says. “They don’t feel stuck anymore. They may be at the same job, but they are not stuck – they are growing, and they stop feeling like they have little or no options.”
What are your dreams, and what action will you take?
Photo by Megan Marotta