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Advisers help change behaviour, not just sell a product

There are several good studies which try to determine what ‘advice’ really is – meaning, how customers perceive and value advice, rather than the legal definitions which have come to dominate discussion.

Friday, April 1st 2016, 2:24PM

by Russell Hutchinson

Helping a client to understand and choose is a foundation component of advice: buy this, or that, understand what they really need, want, what is a desirable extra, what doesn’t matter. Help them to reconcile competing objectives because the purchase is rarely made by just one person. Help to resolve conflicts and reach the right compromise when it comes to budget. All of this matters a great deal. Some of it overlaps with the legal definitions a lot, some, like an actual choice of insurer, not so much.

All of that is essential, I think. But the point at which an adviser really stands out for me is when they lift their sights beyond the transactional and have a vision for how the relationship with the client will add value in the medium to long term. Usually this entails a change in behaviour. To use the medical metaphor, you can prescribe to fix the current complaint, but when you talk about all the long-term healthy habits, that is when you have a longer-term goal with your client in mind.

Financial advisers exhibit this in a number of ways. One is by providing advice or referral in lower-value adjacent segments: such as asking if a client has a Will and suggesting assistance with estate planning. Offering advice or referral on setting and achieving financial goals, establishing effective budgeting, having financial discussions in the family, helping children to develop financial literacy, and so on can all develop good long-term financial choices.

But did you know that there is a stronger link between health and wealth than mere metaphor?

Although it has been known for a long time that health and wealth are linked it was generally thought this was merely a strong correlation – a product of good health making it easier to gain and retain wealth, or wealth making it easier to get good healthcare. But recent research shows an earlier causal connection: the same planning skills you deploy to help achieve financial goals are transferable to achieving health goals and vice versa. If you can help your clients to develop good planning skills, based on a process of setting goals and working towards them, review, and re-planning, then they will probably use them in other areas of their life as well.

For those that want to offer great financial advice it is an encouraging thought that your work could support the health and wellbeing of your client.

Tags: Russell Hutchinson

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