Planning for the future

They don’t call them ‘golden years’ for nothing. Retirement should be among the best years of your life, when you have time to do everything you couldn’t when bound by work and family commitments.

Why, then, do many of us spend more time worrying about our future financial security rather than, more simply, our future?

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Barry LaValley has spent much of his career exploring the psychological and emotional aspects of ageing and how they, rather than the accumulation of wealth, should influence financial planning.

“I found that clients were pretty clear on what they were retiring from but not what they were retiring to,” Mr LaValley said.

“Their advisors didn’t help them in that regard and so I wanted to create a different story on retirement.”

That story involves looking at retirement as a “multi-phase journey” and planning accordingly.

“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding in our industry and it is that people know their own dreams, goals, concerns and opportunities, and that all we need to do is supply the products and they’ll be able to fit those in to what they already know,” he said.

But the real fact is that people don’t know what they’re doing and where they’re going.

“They’ve never had someone sit them down and say ‘I’m going build a financial plan for you but we better do some work to clarify the issues that you’re going to face.”

Mr LaValley said the role of financial planner had changed to become more of a coach rather than an advisor, talking about the issues clients may face rather than telling them what to do.

“It’s not that the quality of advice people are getting from their financial advisors isn’t any good, but rather it misses the mark because it’s talking about the wrong thing,” he said.

“I think that the advisor of tomorrow does three things for a client – provides the client with clarity and provides them with insight based on that clarity.

“The third thing, and I think the most important part, is that they want the client to feel like they are a partner as opposed to a teacher-student dynamic.

That sense of partnership is foremost – the client should walk away feeling like they’ve got someone in their corner.

During a recent visit to Brisbane, the Canada-based founder of the Retirement Lifestyle Centre met with RACQ’s Financial Planning team to talk about the future of the industry. Mr LaValley said unlike many in the industry, they understood the psychological and emotional complexities of planning for retirement.

“It was easy to work with the team because they understand that the client is a person,” he said.

“It’s very heartening but not a surprise, because the whole concept of membership is a different dynamic to the concept of customers or clients.”

“Now I know client/member is interchangeable, but people belong to something and expect the organisation to take a different approach.”

RACQ Financial Planning Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Representative No. 293929) of Actuate Alliance Services Pty Ltd, AFSL 240959, ABN 40 083 233 925.