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Episode Summary

Carl Richards has developed a phrase for financial advisors that he says will change everything once you’re able to internalize it:

“Financial advisors are guides in a changing landscape. Not the defenders of an outdated map.”

Think about going mountain climbing in an area you’ve never been before. You know the ultimate destination is the summit. But, getting there requires navigating a lot of unknown terrain.

While standing at the bottom of the mountain, you can look at a map and develop a plan that will take you to the summit. But, the moment you take your first step towards the path, the plan is outdated.

As Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

The wind might shift directions. That weather changes on a dime. An unexpected animal emerges. A storm or blizzard blows through.

And, as soon as any one of those things happens, you now have an outdated plan. Or an outdated map.

Do you want to summit this mountain with a guide who relies on an outdated map and continues pushing forward?

Or do you want the guide who embraces uncertainty, knows things are going to shift, and proceeds accordingly?

Do you want a guide who is heads-down in their outdated map trying to recalculate where to go next?

Or do you want the guide who looks you confidently in the eye and says, “This is scary. But, I’ve been through this before and we’ve planned for this. Stick with me and I’ll get you through it.”

The same approach applies to financial advice. It’s tempting, and completely natural, to present the client with a plan/solution that shows them how to achieve their future financial goals (or get to the top of the mountain).

But, as soon as a job loss, or major expense or new child enters the picture, the map is outdated. The original path you charted from “Point A” to “Point B” needs to be recalibrated.

And that’s only scratching the surface.

What about when their preferences change and the client leaves their steady job to become their own boss?

What about when the couple realizes that time with kids is their top priority and they want to take some time off to travel the world as a family?

If you’re focused on being a guide in a changing landscape for clients, then you’ve embraced uncertainty and can help confidently navigate your clients through the inevitable changes that life throws at them.

In this episode, Carl Richards breaks down what this looks like in practice, what it means for financial advisors to be a “guide”, and how internalizing this concept will change everything.

Things You’ll Learn

  • The two pieces of advice Carl would go back and tell himself as an advisor to make the biggest difference in his career
  • The concept Carl says will change everything in your business once you internalize it
  • Why understanding a client’s purpose is the foundation of the work advisors do
  • Why a deeper “Yes” is the most effective means to helping clients say “No” and change their behavior
  • The difference between purpose, values and goals and what that looks like in the planning process
  • Why advisors should first default to passion and energy over dollar signs to help clients make decisions
  • Why we need to be able to teach clients to form goals and how to do it effectively
  • How to uncover your client’s and prospect’s real “why”
  • How to use a “Statement of Financial Purpose” in the planning process
  • Why the ability to embrace uncertainty is crucial to both yours and your client’s success
  • The best approach to handling an “objection” I’ve ever heard

About Carl Richards

Carl Richards is an industry legend. He’s a former advisor, a Certified Financial Planner, industry speaker, and the creator of the Sketch Guy Column in the New York Times.

He’s also the author of The One-Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way To Be Smart About Your Money and The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways To Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money, and co-host of the Kitces & Carl podcast, one of the most popular in the industry.

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