How can a financial planner be ‘rubbish at numbers?’ After all, finance is all about numbers and to be a great financial planner you have to be great with numbers, right? Well, wrong!
Enter Dennis Hall, the outgoing chairman of the IFP London branch. In a brilliant presentation yesterday, his last as the branch chair after 4 good years, Dennis talked about how he is shaping his successful financial planning practice around widows and couples dealing with terminal illnesses. He shared some insightful stories of people he has worked with and interviewed as part of his research into a book he is writing on the very subject.
As you might suspect, this type of work requires lots of skill, care and empathy. ‘I am great at these…! My Myers-Briggs personality test tells me I am great at this sort of thing!’ Dennis asserted. ‘I am rubbish with numbers, which is why I have paraplanners!’
Like any highly effective financial planners, Dennis plays to his strength by focusing on what he does best and what matters the most to his clients, while leaving others do what he’s not so good at.
Of course, this is not to say that advisers hire paraplanners because they are ‘rubbish with numbers!’ As a matter of fact, many advisers are indeed great with numbers, research, analysis and all the other technical stuff paraplanners do. However, nearly all those who use paraplanners do so because they focus on what their client really value; the relationship, trust, guidance and hand-holding.
This goes back to the core of why clients hire an adviser in the first place. Have you ever met anyone who says ‘my financial adviser is great because he does a lots of research and analysis, and he writes me these fantastic reports I just love so much?’ To paraphrase American financial planner and artist Carl Richards, clients ‘hire an adviser, not because they know how to use a calculator, but because they know how to use a compass.’
Dennis is an example of an adviser who know how to use a compass (and on a mission?), supported by great paraplanners. That for me is the nail in the coffin of the debate about the value of paraplanners!