We are excited to have Susan Bradley, Elizabeth Jetton, Carol Anderson, and Rick Kahler join us to talk about the evolution of financial life planning, and why each of them views this “Financial Planning 2.0” as this profession’s future. Each of these individuals has played a colossal role in growing the financial planning profession with their work in financial life planning.

Susan Bradley, CFP®, CeFT®, is the founder of the Sudden Money® Institute. She is an advocate for empowering financial planning clients to develop processes and tools for the personal side of money. She focuses on people going through transitions, and how they can seamlessly move forward in a positive way with their finances.

Elizabeth Jetton, CFP® is a former president of FPA, founder of Elizabeth Jetton, Inc., and co-founder of TurningPoint. Elizabeth is a professor at Golden Gate University where she teaches a class on financial life planning. She writes, speaks, and mentors new planners and works with all financial planners interested in the financial life planning movement to help them deliver true value to their clients.

Carol Anderson, M.S., is the founder of Money Quotient, a non-profit organization focused on helping financial planners guide their clients to a more successful relationship with money. Money Quotient focuses on education and research, and Carol is deeply involved in research projects on the benefits of financial life planning.

Rick Kahler, CFP®, is the owner of Kahler Financial Group. He is also a writer, researcher, educator, and advocate for financial therapy. Rick has served in several leadership roles both through the FPA and other national financial planning organizations.  

Every member of this group has been involved with the history of the financial life planning movement and each of them has incredible insights to share. Tune in as they discuss everything from the first meeting of the Nazrudin Project, to the importance of community and the future of the financial life planning movement. You don’t want to miss this episode!

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[tweet_box design=”box_10″ url=”https://buff.ly/2xR9g19″ float=”none” excerpt=”Financial life planning is financial planning done well. – Rick Kahler, CFP® on #YAFPNW e118″]Financial life planning is financial planning done well. – Rick Kahler, CFP® on #YAFPNW e118[/tweet_box]


What You’ll Learn:

  • What the beginning of the financial life planning movement looked like
  • What the shared expectation of financial life planners is within the profession
  • The importance of community within the financial planning profession
  • How financial planners can care for and encourage one another to make an impact on their clients’ lives and grow sustainable businesses
  • How financial planner emotions impact their ability to grow as a planner
  • The idea of being and doing – and how they differ in financial planning
  • How different financial life planning is now than it was 20 years ago
  • How these industry leaders view financial life planning, and how the practice will evolve in the future


FPA Retreat


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e118 Transcript

Hannah: Well, thank you guys all for being here. So talking about the history of financial life planning, you know before we can really talk about the history of it, What is financial life planning?

Rick: Roy Diliberto would say its financial planning done well.

Elizabeth: I would say, you know, the answer to that question is part of the history and it’s evolving and we are looking for way I think to. Integrate the different aspects of financial planning into something that’s whole this are greater than the sum of its parts. And I think we’ve sort of used financial life planning as a way to describe tending the whole person, you know, in various ways. Bringing in the interpersonal skills, the communication to address not just the external resources of money but the relationship with money.

Carol: I would agree with that and I think it’s also a melding of qualitative data gathering and goal setting with the quantitative data gathering and goal setting process as well. And I think it’s actually through that that really engages the client so that they take ownership. It becomes much more meaningful process for them.

Susan: I think we need to step into working on the personal side, the interior side, the human side, it also calls on the advisor to be different in to step up. And to build a presence that wasn’t required before. It was pretty straightforward in the early 80s when I started. It was more about numbers. It was the training, anyway. And we didn’t have a discipline to be present, human being to human being. So it’s something that is it’s driving the evolution from many layers and many points of view. And it is something that I think by nature is evolutionary. It is never complete.

Carol: I agree with that.

Hannah: So this idea of financial life planning. When did it start? Where does the story start?

Carol: For me, I think it’s different than the rest because they were financial planners and then began to embrace a more holistic perspective. And I don’t want to be speaking for you. But that’s my perception that you really were drawn to having deeper relationships with your clients and really serving the whole person.

I did not come from a financial planning background, but came from a definitely had some experience in financial services, but I came more from the academic community and also a real desire to see financial education throughout the country and was determined to be sort of an evangelist for that. And so that was sort of the purpose for my going back to school and to getting some extra education and adult learning theory and psychology and consumer economics and so forth. But I was very disappointed to learn that financial education did not equate to higher levels of financial well-being.

So that kind of set me back on my heels and I tried to think we’ll what what does work. And so this is kind of that journey is what brought me to this process of discovery and qualitative data gathering and goal setting. And melding lots of different disciplines into a process that really speaks to the client and I feel like it’s a exploration that’s ongoing to really find out how to do it best. And then I came into the financial planning community through kind of a twists and turns. I won’t go into that story, but it was delightful to find this core group of financial planners that were really engaged in this. At that time it was still very controversial. But then there were many that were very eager to have a process for doing this.

Rick: I think it’s really hard to say exactly when it started. I remember I think it, Retreat 1989, that we had a psychologist speak to us by the name of Nixon, I believe. And I remember walking out of that session just thinking, “What is he doing here? We’re number crunchers. This is dangerous stuff.” I think that was well before 1994 when we say George Kinder and Dick Wagner got together and did their presentation.

Elizabeth: I have a question and some of you may know because I was sort of late to the party in some ways. I don’t think I started registering it till maybe ’97 when I started reading ‘Money and Soul”. The Money and Soul articles in the journal. And that’s how I discovered Nazrudin But was the summit that Dick put together where Jacob Needleman spoke, was that before Dick and George did that presentation?

Rick: That was, I think, that was Retreat 1995.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Rick: And the reason I remember that is when I turned 40 that … I turned 40 at Retreat.

Elizabeth: Because I always associate that as one of those those tipping point, turning points where a lot of this was bubbling and I wasn’t sure the chronological order of those two things.

Rick: And Needleman spoke and Olivia Mellon.

Susan: And Olivia Mellon, yeah. Well in 1993, there was a conference in Washington, DC. And I just found the lapel button recently. So I know that it was 1993. A little flag. And it said “financial literacy,” I don’t think they use that. But it was some kind of a personal finance summit. I think that’s what it was. And there were quite a few people there. I would guess it’d be like 500 plus people. Some senators and that sort of thing and that’s where a lot of the Nazrudin people met originally. And that’s how I think when I first met Dick. And Spring Leonard was also one of the founders of Nazrudin. There were three of them.

And then after ’94, there was a letter that was sent out and it was from the three of them Dick Wagner, Spring Leonard, and George Kinder. And I really didn’t know any of them very well. But there was an invitation and I think the invitation is to me an important part of the beginning of all of this. And it basically said, “We have an interest in the psychology and spiritual side of money. And we think you might share that interest.” So it was a real open kind of if you’re interested. It had no real context. It had a date and a place. And I remember Dennis Means was one of the contact people in in Denver, because I remember five of us ended up at five different airport Hilton’s and he was picking us up at the airport Hilton. Well, we were at five different ones and this is before, you know texting and that kind of a lot of confusion.

And we ended up in Estes Park as the first Nazrudin. But it was that … the spirit of that invitation that said, “Something bigger, something else is happening. We don’t quite know what. But we think you might be part of the exploration.” And I think they sent out 70 some letters. And if my memory is correct, 33-ish of us just showed up. And most of us didn’t know each other.

Rick: And that was in 19 … 90.

Susan: 5? Was it?

Rick: So that was after.

Susan: Yeah. ’93 was in Washington, DC and then the retreat presentation. And then I think that’s what it was. And we were using Needleman’s book as sort of the starting of all of this. So he and John Levy and a couple of other white knights of this wisdom were around and we could look forward to them to help guide some of the conversation and the thinking. And I would say at the end of that first one we decided who was in to continue the conversation. And that was the outcome was that we continued. It was never intended to have a mandate or rules of the road or anything like that. Except for the very broad ones that we have.

But it wasn’t sense back in the late 80s and early 90s, and many of us were doing different things. And it was kind of lonely. You know, you were trying something with kids or with women or with literacy or something and it was happening. And that thing in DC it brought some of us together. So it was. It was a need, an internal need that was spoken and then some organization. And it’s like a good garden. You just need a seed, and some soil and water. And you keep going and you got it.

Elizabeth: It was one of those people lonely out there somewhere doing something and again kind of late, for my own reasons, to the community. And that feeling of, “Oh, I do belong.” That sense of not being alone in those thoughts. And to be able to listen in to how it was being articulated in a way that maybe I hadn’t found yet because it was just me talking to myself and doing something. And I think that was a shared experience.

And I think we’re describing what has been called a field. That there is a field that it does have an emergent quality. And they definitely these folks led that field and certainly Jacob Needleman’s work spoke to them and they saw themselves. And I think that for me, as you were talking Susan, just to be reminded that how amazing it is that the Nazrudin community resisted what is so often the urge to create more structure and mandate and a goal and a this and a that. But the wisdom to understand that the very thing we’re dealing with here requires lots of spaciousness and messiness as a reflection of the very thing which is the relationship with money. So that took some courage and wisdom I’m sure at times to resist the urge to over structure.

Susan: I think at times, too, there were attempts to structure because it’s what the culture does. And it never worked. And so is was an experiment and we just kept coming back and kept at it. And everybody got whatever they got and it was enough to keep it moving. Yeah, there’s a lot of courage in that, you’re right.

Carol: There’s another event that I think was important. It was very important to me in that kind of foundation of life planning. And that was a kind of a think tank that Bill Anthes put together. And I think you were there Susan.

Susan: Yeah.

Carol: And Dick was one of those that organized that. And so Bill Anthes was very intrigued by the life planning movement, but he was very skeptical of it. And so he brought together … he invited leaders of this movement from two different organizations. And one was the FPA and then others was the this International Society for Retirement Planning that I was involved in and that was how I kind of got this entree into the financial planner world.

That organization was very multidisciplinary in terms of our financial planners, but there were human resource, educators, researchers. It was very small but a very diverse population in the membership. And so Steve Shagrin was a member of both organizations and knew Bill Anthes quite well. So Steve was charged to bring people from the community from the International Society for Retirement Planning Community and then Dick was to invite people from the FPA, Financial Planning Community to this kind of summit.

And our first assignment was to define life planning. And there, you know, several brought up ideas. And there was I thought a wonderful definition that we adhere to in our organization because I just think it covers all the bases really. Well, it was proposed and then the whole group accepted it after it was discussed. And there was a great white paper written about that and I think it came out in 2001. And I thought that was pivotal. It was still pretty controversial, but it was it did a great job of sort of explaining it to people in the financial planning community that didn’t have an understanding. And I sort of felt after that the tide changed. It started to change. You know, that even if they didn’t want to embrace it themselves at least it was accepted and it wasn’t as controversial anymore.

Elizabeth: I have such a vivid image in 1999 at the last ICFP annual conference. George Kinder was a keynote speaker, and he had just published “Seven Stages of Money Maturity” and the room was packed. And he, in his George way, asked everybody to turn to the person sitting next to them and share a difficult memory around money. And people started to just get up and walk out the door. And they kept getting up and walking out the door. And I could be overstating it, but it felt like half the room walked out. Mostly men.

Those of us who were so excited to be asked to do such a thing were hanging on every word. And I have often remembered that moment and my own moments where I felt like, “Am I about to walk over the abyss with something?” Of the courage he had to stand in what he truly felt in his heart was important. And he didn’t respond to it. He just kept doing it. Just offering. It was a gift. “I’m giving an offering.” And that in itself was just a modeling that was really profound. But I often think back and think I would not be surprised if most of those same people who walked out have been through the two days Seven Stages Workshop by now. I know they have, right?

Rick: I think it was around the same time. Was it 2000 at Naz? That he did the two day at Naz.

Elizabeth: Yes, 2000. Yeah.

Rick: And I think there were 75 there.

Elizabeth: There were 75.

Susan: Yeah, I was there.

Rick: I went through that. And I think that was kind of a turning point, too. Because it was a real introduction to so many people in Naz of the two-day. And I know from that we had some trainings I think where you and I met on the desert with George. And just seems that a lot of things started in motion around that time.

Elizabeth: I think that’s very true. That was an interesting one because it was, I think, that was the biggest Nazrudin gathering up to that point possibly. It brought a lot of leaders. I remember Roy Diliberto was there and he was sort of an unlikely person. It hadn’t really attracted the professional leadership and that was a shift. And Rick’s describing, you know, for several of us we then did a … continue training with George. And that group bonded deeply over, we call it “the desert experience”. But that in itself … We are telling a story of a garden that sort of seems to keep having seeds. You almost didn’t know we’re there. You know, sort of sprouting and dropping another seed. But that led to a group forming called the Pioneers. And Dick Wagner was part of it, and Rick and myself, Marcy Yeager, off and on Lisa and Dave, Troy Jones.

Rick: David Brand.

Elizabeth: David Brand, Gail and Rich Coleman, Michael Smith. And for us that was our own place to stew in the juices. We worked. It was that experience of, “We’re not a study group. We’re here to work on our own, our own money lives in a safe place.” And also we thought that perhaps we were there to form, we didn’t know, a guild? Kind of a place where we could nurture these things. We really thought we were there to create a thing. And we went right to structure really early on. Completely over-coached and facilitated, I think.

But what was beautiful and organic is that out of that certainly Rick went on to write wonderful books and collaborate with other people and bring new knowledge in. I sort of took the path into leadership and bringing this into the vision for the profession. I hope a little bit. But each of us we ended up not hardly doing anything together, but sort of launching in organic ways from having been in that relationship.

Rick: And we came up with a lot of things to do that we decided we shouldn’t do.

Elizabeth: We did.

Rick: Go into business together. Should we have a certification? No.

Hannah: Well, it’s … so painful things that are really standing out. One, this isn’t that long ago. That’s what shocking to me and, you know, we talk about financial life planning now and it’s … I mean most people kind of buy into this idea now. And you guys are talking about early 2000s. And I mean that’s not that long ago.

Carol: That’s right.

Hannah: And so just to see the progression of that’s happened in the last 15 years. But the other thing that’s kind of standing out to me is, you know when there’s really good ideas … like you’re saying talking about that garden. They just kind of pop up. And that’s what’s kind of really neat. Is everybody has their own version. Not version, their own interpretation of life planning. Did you know, not that there were expectations when you started meeting together, but what were you hoping would be the outcome when you started meeting at the Nazrudin project? Maybe we’ll go back to the 90s. Like late 90s maybe.

Susan: I don’t think there was an outcome. I think individually we were there for our own reasons. Collectively, there was a sense of being nourished, a sense of community. Lots of variations of where we met and how many people were there, and who was the leader, and all that. And it was always a volunteer kind of thing. But it’s something would … it was … back to the Garden. It was like fertilizer and it was just there. And you take it as you take it and what happens… happens.

Personally, for me, the Sudden Money Institute was created late at night. And I’m not a late-night person. So I was probably just saying “yes” to get out of it and go to bed. But Dick Wagner kept pushing about my book, “The Sudden Money” book. “What am I going to do now?” We all know that’s a famous Dick Wagner thing. And I said nothing. I’m going to go back to my full-time practice. And we all know that that was never okay with Dick. And he pushed and pushed. And I said, “Here you do it if you think it’s so important. Here’s the book.”

I really was resistant and he wouldn’t do that. And he pushed and really that was in one night, completely unexpected to me, never had an idea of carrying this beyond the book. It was born and that was March and we had our first Conference in June of 2000. So it just took a few months and it happened. And he showed up and he showed up at many of them and was a participant, an instigator. He always had a little bit more, to “do a little bit more.” Do a little bit more one way or another, which is, at the end of the day it’s a good thing. And I think that story, although that is my story, many stories like that have happened. And it could be a conversation between any group of people and it’s just rich.

Rick: And that was one thing that really struck me early on was at these gatherings had no expectation and no agenda. And that was so foreign to me. That was so foreign to me. And I remember when the Pioneers nation to spend some time with, whether it’s eight people or 50 people. And there’s no speaker and there’s no program. And this is nuts. How can this possibly be productive?

Carol: Definitely felt that way, too.

Rick: Going from that to relaxing into it. That, “Well, I guess the most important thing is who’s there.” And I think that was part of Dick’s original invitation was, “Well, the right people are here. Let’s see what happens.”

Hannah: This idea of community is very … I mean, can you all speak to that? Like …

Rick: The what community?

Hannah: Or just this idea of community. And how everybody has his own ideas. Like I look just with the people here in this room. I mean the impact is profound on the profession. Would that have been possible without a community of other financial planners?

Rick: No, no.

Susan: No.

Carol: And I think, too, part of it is there’s mutual support and appreciation for each other’s work. There isn’t a real competitive feeling about it. You know, it’s a … it really is freeing to have those kinds of relationships where you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not or try to be protective. We can just explore and get lots of encouragement and be an encourager as well. So that it is key, community.

Susan: You know, I remember in the early days when I would go to my … I was with an independent broker-dealer. And I was so brand-spankin’ new. And I’d go to these conferences and the kings, a few Queens, but mostly the kings, were the high producers. And you knew them by their numbers. And you knew them by their status and the standing ovations that they got from whatever. And there was really no sense of community. It was just competition. It was, “Someday I want to be like that. And what does it take to be like that?” And that was the conversation. And to want something else … there wasn’t a lot of room. I’m sure there were other people there that had that feeling, but it was never something that … it was like trying to strike a damp match. You know, it just wasn’t going to happen.

So to move out of that. I went independent. But to move out of that and find these kinds of communities. And really the way to find them was to go out of your local area back then. And it was the ICFP before FPA. For me it was ICFP, then Nazrudin. But that’s where you found the bigger conversations in the national groups.

Elizabeth: One thing I would add to that is that there were clearly some folks in these early days of Nazrudin that were in touch with, “How do you have transformative dialogue? How do you have different conversation?” It doesn’t just happen because where you can go be in a gathering of people and just lock down into what your expectations are and your assumptions about how you’re supposed to show up. And so it takes different structures and those were present in Nazrudin or they evolved or they emerged, they weren’t … I wasn’t at the first ones, but by the time I came and in the late 90s those processes were there. Didn’t always work perfectly but the invitation continued that this is a place where we’re going to honor each other and what you have to offer. And it was prototyping. You could sort of bring  … I remember Susan bringing her book and you know offering that. That we could offer and get feedback or offer into the whole and see what happened.

But that is a form … there is a structure in that. It’s not nothing. How to hold the space so that people can do that. And that speaks to something that’s just been going on in the world that was also emerging and found its way into our profession to help us, I think, at the right time. It seems to me that that was another piece that made the forming of that community more functional and …

Carol: Well, is this part of what perhaps, too, the art of hosting techniques and the training, too?

Elizabeth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carol: Because I think the purpose of those is how to have meaningful conversations and it’s a very democratic process as well and very effective. So, I think that somehow someone was exposed to it along the way and then adopted it. And I think several of us have been to those trainings and incorporated it, other processes into the work that we do.

And you know and I just remember also when I went, it was like these different frameworks for thinking about things. It just gave me so much more insight just because it presented topics and just and processes in a different way that I’d ever thought of them before. The light bulbs just started going off. But I think that’s part of what Nazrudin did, too. It was a place to bring new ideas and share them with people and challenge one another in our thinking. So it was very stimulating, very stimulating. Rich place to be.

Rick: It wasn’t happening for us individually in our practices. And I mean, I’m thinking how important community was because at home we were the mavericks or with our employees and with our clients. There was no place to hang out with.

Carol: It also became a place we could practice together. We could learn by doing and talk about it. Traditional study groups, you really couldn’t, really wasn’t a place you could go for that. But that’s part of what the Pioneers were and I think part of Nazrudin was this is the place to bring the how am I doing this? How am I … Here’s what’s going on and I’m not sure I’m comfortable. The kind of working on self, but also the process around it. What’s it going to look like? How’s it going to get balanced with the quantitative? All those kind of things we still hear from the young new folks that sometimes come into Retreat. They’re asking those same questions that we wrestled with I think early on, too.

Susan: Is it fair to think of community as a container? As like Nazrudin does have structure by the way, Roberta Lee Driscoll, Mamma Naz has taken care of things for years for us so we don’t have to think too much. So there is some structure. But it’s almost like you go into containers or tents. And within that space there’s an expectation that shared that’s what part of the community is. There’s a respect and a something familiar. But even here at Retreat when you were leading the opening circle the other day, you built the container again. And it’s been built year after year, but it’s important to create that, to remind us who keep coming back and to those who come in this is what this space is like.

And this is a little more formal. A lot of work went into getting all this together. But once we’re here it’s a time to lighten up a little bit and have more deep-hearted conversations and not be talking about necessarily, you know, what your AUM is. I’m sure those conversations happen and why shouldn’t they? That’d be okay, too. But I think … And at the Sudden Money Institute we work on being a community of practice. So there’s a give-and-take and there’s a shared work product. And it’s a safe place to say, “I wish I had done better on this. Can anybody help me?” That’s a pretty important thing. You could do that here. You can bring a problem like that to Retreat. You could bring a problem like that to Nazrudin and hopefully lots of … I’m sure, you know, the other ones as well. So I think that we build these communities, abstract as they are, but it starts as I listen to all of us, starts to feel like there’s something almost a physical structure to it when it’s not quite there.

Carol: There’s actually a word for that. Basho. Ba-sho is both of the creating of the physical space and the energetic space that is the container that can hold that kind of energy. So it’s a real, it’s a thing.

Susan: Basho.

Carol: Basho. Creating the Basho.

Susan: Where does that come from?

Carol: I’m assuming Japanese. Sound, principle, and concept: Ba, the Ba. It’s also part of the theory of dialogue. It’s sort of embedded in all of this. So I love the way you describe it, the container. And as you were as you were talking about it Susan, I’m thinking that I actually think part of financial life planning, and what we were learning in that community, was teaching us how to create Ba with our clients. That part of financial life planning is creating a space. Creating a container where safe, rich conversations happen, because they weren’t happening before. How do we create something new and it’s with great questions. It’s with silence and deeper listening. It’s setting the physical space. It’s taking the few minutes before, all the things we’ve worked with together in our different ways we play with this to to create space.

So it is interesting in reflecting that what we were doing and creating our community was also informing the practice of financial life planning.

Rick: It was very experiential. I’m thinking, you know, a lot of us come from a very academic, left brain side as “I’m going to do, I’m going to do.” And reflecting about upon it with the space in the community, which were words that very foreign to me. Is it was learning to be. You know, it was actually experientially practicing and learning how to be with people. And to be with myself so I could learn to be with clients. It’s a very different agenda from attending a conference. I mean PowerPoints were almost banned from Nazrudin.

Susan: Absolutely.

Elizabeth: Absolutely.

Carol: I think it was a wonderful platform for everyone to get more comfortable with emotion as well because it was a kind of a free space to explore that in very … not a space that financial planners went into. And even in our personal lives, I know for me because of a family background and whatever, that was an area that even though I knew how important was on an intellectual level, there was kind of fear of emotion and being very contained. So that I think with having the dialogues with one another and exploring these issues together that it did help us to kind of explore and push out our comfort zones.

Susan: It accelerates our growth. And the idea of being is abstract; doing is concrete and measurable. But when you’re practicing or being aware of being, it’s pretty solo. But when you’re with a group that talks about it, you can see into yourself. You experience better from somebody, of the outside and you learn from behavior of others or the option of choice with others. So there’s a real acceleration in the most gentle way that happens. It’s funny. I would never have put that word out there. This is a kind of a conversation that lets you look at something that looks like a rock and you find out that it’s a diamond, you know what I mean?

Elizabeth: You know, I’m just in sitting with this lovely group of people, we’re an interesting sample because we are all in this container, financial life planning, and doing very different things within it. Which is also its nature and part of, you know, why Dick loved to describe it as the garden. That there isn’t one practice or model or process, which is kind of I think what’s beautiful. How the way we talk about it and the language is evolving and how we’re thinking about it that it’s not a one thing and it has different expressions and components. And I think we’re getting better at finding ways to talk about that and hold all of it together. And it will be very exciting to kind of see how that keeps unfolding.

Susan: It had occurred to me that it … in a larger sense of community, there’s lots of different communities. That if you keep the community’s integrity, but keep your doors open. There’s a flow back and forth. And not only for other people who want to come in, but even for us to learn from each other. The continuous flow. And I think that’s what protects the vitality. If you’re all in separate, you know, tents with limited supplies and waters and you know in scarcity, it’s very hard to thrive and to blossom. But if you have the free flow, that’s when I think it just gets far more fun.

Elizabeth: That’s the attitude that really supports community, too.

Carol: For sure.

Hannah: So we look at the time, 1999 was the Kinder talk where everybody’s walking out. We’re in 2018, almost 20 years later. How would all of you all describe the progress of financial life planning in the last 20 years?

Carol: Well, it’s definitely a concept that’s much more accepted now. I would say from my perspective it’s not controversial. That I think most all planners would say there’s real value to a life planning approach. And I think there’s still a lot of room to grow in terms of the number of planners that they definitely are not resisting the idea any more, but those that have actually have implemented a process that would be defined as bringing in a more holistic perspective. I think a lot of planners have the heart and the intent, but maybe not a real structured process so that all of their clients do get a taste or an experience of that. I think there’s lots of ways to do that. But you know that perhaps it’s a level of comfort with having those conversations might be holding them back.

Rick: We’re starting to see it push into academia, which I think is pretty critical for the growth. We’re seeing certificate programs in financial life planning, financial therapy. It’s very embryonic right now, but we’re starting to see that happen. And just on a personal note, it was mentioned in the beginning … somebody mentioned money scripts and I hear that a very common term. And I flashed back to the phone call that I was on when Ted Klontz said, “Well, yeah. So and so calls them life scripts. Why don’t we call them money scripts?” And just to think how ubiquitous that term has been.

And I remember at a Nazrudin gathering throwing out therapy, the idea of therapy and financial therapy. And there’s just like a recoil, even from that community. Like, “oh no, we’re not going there.” And you know how that’s growing in acceptance. So it’s amazing how far it’s common 20 years.

Carol: I think the broadening of the interdisciplinary nature of it does draw. We’re seeing the application that really coming from communication and behavioral and psychology and social psychology and adult learning and change studies of change and all of that is useful and informative and into so does keep expanding that garden of knowledge that allows us to build practices and tools and models and things to, you know, new arrows in the quiver. And this notion that I mentioned it earlier in a session that I read somewhere and I loved it. It’s not just having more arrows in the quiver, but it is the archer, the quality of the archer that brings the power to the tools. And being able to be directive and effective.

And I think that’s something we’re all sort of saying in different ways. But that to me is more newly accepted. This notion that the being, the archer, the planner. And you talked about it Susan, of having a role and having to show up and be different. I think that’s a more recent acceptance and unfolding and attention really being paid to that. We’ve talked about it for a long time, but it feels like it’s getting cred.

Hannah: It’s interesting to me. You look at financial planning’s background and it was about bringing in different disciplines into one thing. It was about bringing in the estate planning and the insurance, and everything like that. And now what’s fascinating to me is I’m hearing the same thing about life planning. It’s about how do we bring in all the technical to the psychology, to all the various academic theories that are out there and disciplines that are out there, to better serve our clients. There’s a lot of parallels.

Susan: One of the interesting things about it is that you can’t create the kinds of things that we’ve all created from inside the industry. You have to go outside. And you have to be an explorer, a scout, a curator, all of that. You have to draw from the sciences. You have to draw from disciplines that are brand new, disciplines that are ancient. It’s the whole thing. And then you bring back what it seems to be useful, and then you play with that and you integrate it. And it work, it doesn’t work. And then you go out and you find some more.

I think we’re getting to a point where it will be time to … give me some room on this … where institutionalize, which is kind of a contrarian here for this discussion, but to it 20 years from now, but more like two years or five years from now with the age of acceleration, maybe, this becomes a norm. As you enter the profession you don’t just get one thing but you maybe get others or you you adhere to or you belong to different study groups or you find places. And this conversation will be so normal they’ll kind of laugh that we made a distinction.

Elizabeth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carol: Yes, that’s wonderful.

Susan: And then we would have been cathedral builders and it would be built. It’s done. But for now, it looks like we’re just one generation of putting a couple good bricks in there and mortar. But possibly we’ll live to seeing this be more normal. I can’t wait for the day that I call some of you up and say, “Did you see that on the news?”

Carol: But I think the reference to the college programs that Rick made is really huge and even though you know we can get CE for these topics, but it’s still not required to pass the CFP test. But more and more the instructors in those courses are really wanting to expose their students because they see that this element is really the key to their success as financial planners. So they’re really looking at their students as whole people and as professionals that will really be successful. So they are introducing it into their coursework, even though they know they don’t need that knowledge to pass the CFP test.

And also those younger generations are so hungry for this. It’s just … it’s not foreign to them. You know, those generational characteristics really Jive, you know in terms of what life planning offers them and they really embrace it. So I think in terms of what’s next, I think it’s really will build and be just the way it’s done.

Rick: There’s been the pockets, as you’re talking of the training the experiential because that’s so different from the academic. And you know what Susan’s created, what you’ve created, there’s certificate programs. There’s the designation that you’ve come up with. There’s a new designation of Certified Financial Therapists that will be popping up. We can argue whether the designations are helpful or not, but it’s a completely different type of training than, say, what the CFP program has offered. And I’ve been critical of the CFP program for not incorporating more of the exponential. But I just had the thought, as you were talking, you know, it’s a financial component and it’s an exponential component and they both belong.

Carol: Right. I just came out of a conversation … and this is a great kind of intellectual conversation, but I actually don’t want the CFP board to take … to go too far into this. I don’t think that’s their job. I think they should own the technical. And I do think we’ve influenced, financial life planning has influenced them. They’ve brought in communication, but that’s partly why. They are not equipped to do experiential and they are not the experts within that realm. And they are not to be the holders of the whole garden of knowledge. And I have a real resistance to them really going there a whole lot more.

What I love is seeing it … I wanted in the halls of Academia. That’s where I want it. That’s where knowledge lives and grows, and gets tested and you know, we play with it and can do things with it. And so I really sort of love how it’s submerged. But I got into a pretty healthy argument about it. But that’s exciting.

Susan: That’s funny.

Carol: Yeah, pretty good argument about that. But we all were hearing each other and I think it was like, “No, we all agree. They should have the communications component. They should give credit, CE credit. But there is a journey and I do think we would all agree that because it’s experiential and we are really talking about wholeness and integration, that is not a novice set of competencies and skills. You can begin to read about it and understand it and but it does require practice.

Susan: Yeah.

Carol: And so it’s, in the helping profession they call that clinical reasoning. And novices are not expected to exhibit clinical reasoning. And that sounds like a hard term and it’s much more. It’s really describing the wisdom ability to bring in the technical, interpersonal process, self-awareness, and the wisdom that comes with doing and learning. And that’s a quality of this and that’s partly why I’m resistant to it being part of that certification of the CPP. That’s a foundational, technical entry point. And then we help through all these other ways through new academic programs and offerings. That’s kind of how … that’s personally how I’m sort of envisioning it and it’ll surprise us all how whatever really does happen.

Susan: Yeah. I think it’s a big part of it. I think the CFP is a technical change model, a technical model for managing finances. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. I don’t regret having the CFP and doing that work at all. And I think it should continue but you’re right. I think you you stay in your unique ability. And you get better and better and better at that. And you don’t need to … almost sometimes feels like a land grab. You know, “I want everything.” And that’s not how a territory thrive is by doing that. So hopefully there’s a recognition.

I will say something about all the certificates and certifications. And I resisted it for 12, my first 12, 13 years. There’s something about the structure that’s demanded around one of those when … you don’t do that lightly. And you have a continuous demands to maintain. And so eventually you reach a point of rigor and a point of, I don’t know, a structure of completeness that you couldn’t have gotten to if you weren’t really pushed into that. It’s not an easy space and there’re many days I wish I had never said the words because of regulations and that kind of thing. But you know, so be it. And I think there will be more. But these specialized areas of practice with the CFP as a floor, as an entry point, because people do hire a financial planners for financial reasons, they walk in through the financial door.

So in my point of view, you have to have that technical side. But then you integrate as best you can in the personal side and the combination,  the synergy of the those two halves is the human. And however you reach that expertise on each side, it’s the combination. And I think there’s probably areas of practice that we can’t even imagine right now that will come out because of all the technology and the way we humans live on this planet 5 years from now not 50 years from now.

Rick: I’m reminded as you talk of how common this is to us. I mean we’ve been baked in this. We’ve been hanging out together forever. And I remember, I don’t know ten years ago Elizabeth. You told me, “Rick, not everybody is like us.” And I was reminded recently in the course I was teaching, one of my students said, “I’ve been in this business for 19 years. I have never run into anybody like you.”

And we were teaching the emotional side and I told him I said, “Well, I am not that unique.” There’s four or five hundred, a thousand of us nationwide that are hanging out. But it just struck me. How can somebody have been in financial planning for 19 years and had never been exposed to what to us is just normal. I mean, it’s still amazing how far we have yet to grow.

Carol: Right. Yeah.

Rick: That’s the truth.

Hannah: So looking at the history of life planning, you know the audience for this is new planners. What would be your hope for new planners as they look forward to, you know, 40, 50 years of their career in working in life planning. What would be your hope for them?

Elizabeth: That they have wonderful questions, you know? That they. They plant seeds, discover seeds, and nourish them. I love what Susan said about hopefully we’d get to discover that we’ve been building a cathedral all along and another one will replace it. As we learn … as you’re saying, Rick, you know, as we learn more about how humans work and what works, I don’t wish them no struggle because as Susan’s beautiful symbol of the butterfly that struggle in the … what is that stage? In the chrysalis, that struggle is part of the ability to survive.

And so I don’t think any of us wish anything but good struggle and informative, and the will, and the courage, and the mentors, and the tribe, and the community to support what they need to emerge. I guess that’s kind of what occurs to me.

Rick: I was thinking my hope for them is that they come to the struggle earlier than what I did.

Carol: Right.

Rick: I’ve often said that I had the gift to my children of the personal work that I’ve done is that maybe they’ll be in therapy half as long.

Elizabeth: Well, I think there’s a whole lot of intrinsic reward for financial planners that embrace this more holistic approach, whatever you want to call it. And that becomes kind of the inner motivator to embrace and grow in this and just bring so much more joy to their work. They, you know, it’s really amazing to touch lives and change lives and that in itself becomes kind of the impetus to just keep going and growing.

I, you know, my personality is to feel like I need to really be perfect at something before I do it and there’s just you know, the preparation is endless. And my advice is don’t do it that way. To, you know it’s kind of stepping out into an unknown territory for a lot of people. And there’s that a ton of training and support that’s out there to help build confidence. But the most important quality is this caring about the client and this intention to serve them and to get to know and understand them and enter it into it with a spirit of curiosity and caring.

And it’s amazing that that may be the only thing you need, you know. Systems and processes are great, but it’s sort of that’s the bottom line. That’s the most essentially ingredients. And hopefully that will give individuals, planners some confidence that they can do it.

Susan: In addition to all the beautiful things that have just been said, to come into this profession taking care of yourself. Who you are, the person who shows up for your clients is essential.  Learn that it’s okay to not know answers. Learn to be curious. And don’t push yourself so hard that you hit some kind of burnout and you see your clients as distribution units or as the number of people that you need to see in the week and that sort of thing. That dehumanizes not only your practice, but yourself.

There’s something very beautiful that happens in this profession that I’ve not seen in other professions around the world. You really have the opportunity to make a difference way beyond yourself, but you can’t lose yourself in the process. And that’s hard in the beginning when everything is new and there’s a full plate and there’s always people who want more and more and more. But knowing how to find your pace and keep your pace. I think that’s the way you have a long life with your profession and you get to achieve the goals that you want. The  burnout of the new is detrimental to everybody. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

Hannah: Was there anything that we missed?

Rick: I’m sure there’s plenty. Probably go on for many hours.

Hannah: Great. Well, thank you.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Carol: Yeah, it was a pleasure.

Elizabeth: This is lovely.

Carol: Yeah.

Elizabeth: We should do this more often.

Susan: I was thinking we didn’t even have a fire in the middle.

Elizabeth: I know. I should have brought my fire. Paper fire.

Hannah: Thanks guys.

Susan: Thank you for doing this. That’s really a great experience.

Hannah: Absolutely

Elizabeth: I hope you can factor out my Game of Thrones phone message thing.