Courageous Conversations

By Spencer Sherman, MBA, CFP®

When I was 10 years old, my aunt and uncle and their children, who had lived across the street from me my whole life, disappeared. Suddenly, I no longer saw Aunt Lilly on my walk home from school. I never saw my cousins again. I didn’t know it at the time, but a money conflict led to my family’s division. The inability of the adults to have a courageous money conversation (CMC) caused a rift so great, my father found out about his sister’s death two years after the fact and 40 years after he last spoke to her.

When I became an adult, I asked my father about his sister. He said “I’ve come to a place of forgiveness for all the money that my brother-in-law stole from me and my business. But when I finally extended the olive branch to them, they had both already died.” That motivated me to reach out to my first cousin, Steve. Without any contact information, I hired a private detective — the most fruitful $500 I’ve ever spent. I agreed to fly to NYC to meet him. Over a pleasant lunch, I was aware that the conversation didn’t venture beyond safe and superficial topics.

Suddenly, I felt terrified (my knees were vibrating); when would I address the elephant in the room? What if I left without bringing up the topic? And then, in that moment, I remembered my father’s regret and inability to have a courageous conversation with his brother-in-law. I knew I had to say something, but how?

“Steve, do you know why our families have been completely out of touch for the last 35 years?”

“We just drifted apart. It happens.”

Did he not know? Or was he dodging my question? This was my moment to take a risk.

“Steve,” I began. “My understanding is that your father was stealing money from my father.”

He looked down and then slowly lifted his gaze and said “It’s true.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“My father confessed to me before he died.”

In that moment, I realized that we had broken the family’s solemn rule to never speak about money. We were free not only to speak about taboo things, but to heal our family. And then I realized there’s a good reason why I’m helping people with money: I’m both healing myself and being a role model for others to address their money afflictions.

That was one of, if not, the most courageous money conversations I’ve ever had. What about you? Is there a conversation with a friend, child, parent, sibling, business partner, boss that you think about initiating, but keep postponing? Of course, there are times when a CMC might not go as planned. But, when I look back at my life, I can’t name a time when my intentional, well-planned money conversation didn’t produce more positive than negative outcomes. To me, this is a risk with outsized potential rewards. We have a bias to ignore the topic of money, but I’m suggesting you challenge yourself and do the opposite.

There’s a lot at stake with CMC’s. Here’s a list of potential conversations that could release blocked vitality and lead to a transformed relationship with the other party and with money itself:

  1. Tell your adult children that you’re going to leave them less than they might be expecting. Or that you’re going to leave one child $1 million and the other child $500,000 [you’re going to leave one child more than the other] because of their different circumstances. From my experience, not having these conversations before death often has unintended consequences. Your children will assume that you left less money because of love. But, when it’s done in advance of death, it can be neutral at worst and connecting and empowering at best.
  2. Tell your friend that you can’t afford the vacation trip or restaurant they’ve proposed. This again, is a chance for real intimacy with your friend, and to lower the stress to your body and to your wallet.
  3. Tell your boss that you want to earn more money. If you don’t have this conversation your resentment might affect the quality of your work.
  4. Tell your parents that they will run out of money if they don’t change their current lifestyle (or that they can spend more and not worry about leaving their money to you). This is an opportunity for intimacy and straight talk about the future.
  5. Tell your spouse that you want to make financial decisions jointly. Despite that appearance of unity, you don’t feel like an equal partner. Again, not having this conversation, will likely lead to more resentment and a further erosion of connection.

Here’s how to have the conversation:

  1. Write down your positive intentions for this conversation. Maybe it’s to get closer to your children, spouse, or friend. Maybe it’s protecting the financial wellness of your parents and yourself.
  2. Role-play the conversation and ask a neutral person to act out the role of the other person. This neutral person will be much more objective and probably offer you some sound suggestions for what to say and not say. Experiment by asking the neutral person to reply with your biggest fears. When you debrief after the roleplay, listen to their feedback as well as to the feelings and intuition in your own body.
  3. Set up a time to speak without interruption with the other person. Let them know the amount of time so you don’t feel rushed. Make sure it’s a comfortable space.
  4. Start the conversation by saying something you appreciate about them. Next, say your intention and how you’re hoping that this conversation produces something positive for both of us. Stick to starting your sentences with the word “I” instead of “you.” In other words, say, “I’m concerned about you running out of money,” instead of “You’re terrible with money and almost broke.”

I cherish my belated relationship with Steve. Having a CMC, like any risk, might not produce a specific outcome, but it can heal and energize any relationship. It can also help you to feel powerful and effective with money.

Steve and I can’t recover the lost years, but when I called him last week, he told me he loved me. Hearing that made me see that taking risks can yield great rewards.

This article has been adapted from one originally published in Mindful Magazine.


Spencer Sherman, MBA, CFP® is a Search Inside Yourself mindfulness teacher (sourced at Google). He founded a sustainable financial firm and has an MBA from Wharton Business School. He is the author of The Cure for Money Madness and The Money & Spirit Workshop, and believes that all of us can feel ease and purpose with money, regardless of how much we have. His 30-year meditation practice supports him in helping others create an equanimous, powerful, and spacious relationship with money. He is a graduate of the Seven Stages of Money Maturity® Training and he has had a profound friendship with George for over 25 years.

Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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RLP® in Social Work

By Trèske Heere, RLP®

‘Confidently go into the direction of your dreams.

Live the life you have imagined.’

Henry David Thoreau

This is what Financial Life Planning essentially means to me.

My financial life planning journey began in 2006 when I first met George Kinder at the 2-Day Seven Stages of Money Maturity® Workshop he was teaching in the Netherlands. The training was very inspiring to me and a lot of study followed. I earned my Registered Life Planner® designation by completing the EVOKE® Life Planning Training and the 6-Month Mentorship under the inspiring and warm leadership of the late Ed Jacobson. By 2007, I was one of the first to earn the Registered Life Planner® designation in the Netherlands.

Through my work as a Life Planner, I was very motivated to follow where my own life plan was calling me and sought to learn more about human behavior through the study of ‘Integral Human Sciences,’ which covers disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, religions and much more.

Now 14 years later, after following my own life planning path, I recently realized my long-term goal of establishing a foundation with no profit targets. I opened my own ‘store’ called DE DREAMFABRYK (Dream Factory). It is a physical space, in the middle of society, where people with little or no money, or even those experiencing debt problems, are given the opportunity to work on their dreams, goals, and desires in an accessible way.

I believe in the uniqueness of each individual and that each person has a dream. It is the mission of DE DREAMFABRYK to give every person that enters the opportunity to be heard. I take the time to really listen to what the person sitting across from me would really, really want with their life and guide them through on how to achieve this, no matter their financial circumstances and even when life shows its heavy sides.

I am excited to bring this new blend of Financial Life Planning and Social Work to the Netherlands! Every person deserves a customized life plan, no matter the circumstances.


Trèske Heere, RLP® is money & life coach. Originally, she started her career in market research, followed by several sales and marketing positions in the financial world.  In 2006 she changed course and choose for a career in the psychosocial world and studied Integral Human Sciences.

She is the owner of her own company Wijs & Water, director and founder of the foundation Opdynpaad and recently opened the doors of De Dreamfabryk, in a nice, accessible location in the middle of a shopping mall in the Northern part of the Netherlands.

She believes that a more beautiful world starts with the autonomy of every individual.

Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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How Life Planning Has Impacted My Business and My Life

Ariadne Horstman a Certified Financial Planner and Registered Life Planner, is founder of Appreciate Finance in Palo Alto, California.

By Ariadne Horstman, CFP®, RLP®

I signed up for the Kinder Institute’s EVOKE® Life Planning Training in Hawaii after reading on the FPA messaging board that the course was a “life-changing experience.” I was eager for just that because it would tie in with my financial planning business. I hesitated because of the cost, the time commitment, and the distance of the Hawaii training location. Now, when I recall our early morning meditations with the sound of the sea in the background, it is a vivid memory that I can take with me the rest of my life.

The class was held at George Kinder’s home in Hana, Maui and made for a very special adventure. Considering the current pandemic and other factors, I’m not sure it will be possible again, but I am hopeful that others will be able to have this opportunity in the future.

The initial 5-Day training in the EVOKE® method was intense. We role-played each client meeting stage in front of the full group again and again to ingrain the practice into muscle memory. The 6-Month Mentorship that followed was essential to master the integration of Life Planning into my work and my personal life. The mentorship helped me figure out how to actually use the process with clients in different situations.

The RLP® training program provided clarity in my own life and helped me refine what I wanted to achieve, how I wanted to live, and what I wanted to focus on. My husband and I have been able to make our individual visions work together in our lives. The training made me think a lot more about implementing important life changes right away and not putting them off or dreaming of them for later in retirement. The simple fact is that we never know how long we have in this life. The current pandemic illustrates that life is very precious and can be shorter than we think.

Similar to how I made changes in my personal life, I’ve integrated those same concepts into my financial planning practice, Appreciate Finance, and it is working well. While it is rare that I carry out the full EVOKE® Life Planning method in the exact, multiple meeting process illustrated during the training program, I’ve chosen to use parts of the process or a shortened version wherever I can.

I have noticed, and other Life Planners have told me, that clients generally don’t start working with us because we use the Life Planning process, at least most of them don’t. Instead there is a completeness to the experience that the clients only recognize later. Prospective clients don’t realize how important Life Planning can be for them when they are looking at the website of a potential financial planner. I believe Life Planning is one of the most important parts of the financial planning process. To educate the public more, I’ve begun to share more information on Life Planning through my social media accounts, marketing materials, and website.

I’ve had prospective clients tell me in the initial consult meetings that Life Planning will not be useful or necessary because they already know what they want. They only want to focus on the financials and the numbers. In working with these clients, my approach is, by necessity, more subtle. However, whether they recognize it or not, Life Planning is incredibly useful for the whole process of financial planning and I try to incorporate elements into their meetings. How else will I know that their financial resources are really working for them? Other prospective clients are excited about the concept of Life Planning and embrace it wholeheartedly. In these cases, I can go about the process in a more straightforward manner.

By working with clients and guiding them through the changes that they want to make in their lives, I have discovered that this emotional side of the process – uncovering and working with clients’ goals and dreams, is much more important than anything else. Occasionally when I show my clients that they can achieve their goals right away, they don’t necessarily choose to make the changes they thought they wanted, but just knowing that they can make those changes is both freeing and exciting to them. These clients realize that they’re able to live their lives in a different way knowing that they could leave their job or change their situation at any time and go and live their dream. It seems like the knowledge that you have a choice is often enough to feel free, even if you choose not to act.

I learned recently that there are almost 500 Registered Life Planners® in the world; I feel part of an exclusive society! I wish more people did this. Even more than the process, the communication lessons that I learned through my Life Planning training are critically important, such as how to be an active and empathic listener and the importance of pausing during conversations. I can still see our trainer Louis Vollebregt demonstrating the pause and hear him saying with his finger raised and a gentle smile “wait… wait… wait….”

Sometimes I’m not able to put all the Life Planning skills into practice seamlessly, but I know it’s important. I understand the techniques I’ve learned through the Kinder Institute are valuable for both my clients and for me as their planner. Every day I’m learning to use the method more and more. The skills are useful in my life and relationships in addition to my business. Ideally, I’d like to do the 5-Day EVOKE® Life Planning Training again in Hawaii with George and Louis and hope that will happen one day in a post-COVID world.


Ariadne Horstman, CFP®, RLP®, is the founder of Appreciate Finance. She has practiced as a financial planner since 2008.  Prior to her financial career, she worked in Silicon Valley’s tech industry and before that in Europe. Ariadne has lived in India and France and is fluent in French. Her international experience is an important part of her work. In her time as a Registered Life Planner®, she has found that starting with discovering clients’ most essential goals for a fulfilled life is the best way to make sure their finances will be channeled to fully support those objectives. Ariadne lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two teenagers, enjoying travel (local at this point), hiking, yoga, horseback riding and meditation. A graduate of Smith College, she completed her financial planning coursework at UC Santa Cruz.

Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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Living My Life Plan…Delivering Life Plans to Others

By Donna Rasile, RLP®

When I was young, I knew helping people was my passion; however, I did not know how that would translate into a career. Could I earn a living helping others? The simple answer is yes. Typically, when you think of careers that focus on helping people, you might think of jobs in the service industry like healthcare instead of those involving numbers. What many do not realize is that investment advising is more than just numbers. There are people behind the numbers. We are providing a service. And for me, it is the people who have become my passion, not the numbers. I feel so fortunate to have discovered and lived my purpose and passion throughout my career; my own life plan is helping other people discover and live theirs!

This became even more apparent when I participated and earned my Registered Life Planner® designation with the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. Through experiencing their signature methodology firsthand, I enhanced my interpersonal skills. At the heart of the training is an emphasis on really listening to clients and helping them to discover what is truly important, not just for their financial goals, but for their life goals. My goal as an investment advisor and Registered Life Planner® (RLP®) is to become an extension of my clients’ families, someone whom they can trust, confide in, and receive peace of mind from.

Training with George Kinder and his talented team taught me that in order to help clients live their Life Plan, I had to live mine. Part of the training was to go through the Life Planning process myself: to feel the emotions evoked from answering the “Three Questions,” to have those difficult conversations where you address your Obstacles, and ultimately develop a Vision that portrays a beautiful painting of the best version of your life. And yes, numbers do play a part of all of this, but as I like to say: they are only the backdrop.

Becoming an RLP® has many rewarding effects on my work as an investment advisor. It is so gratifying to know you have asked the “right” questions, not just the finance-driven ones, and learned the importance of listening—and I mean really listening. To “Pause” is an underrated skill and when used, you discover an authentic way to connect with others.

Thank you, Kinder Institute. You taught me to provide the space to invite deeper conversations, and thus positively impact the lives of my clients. You showed me that part of living my Life Plan is guiding my clients to develop and live their own.

Recently in a reflective period, I spent some time identifying my values and narrowed them down to three—not an easy task! After hours of pouring through numerous words and their definitions I decided on the following three:

  1. Trusted
  2. Compassion
  3. Purpose

What I realized is, these values resonate with me not only personally, but professionally. As Senior Vice President, Investment Advisor at FinTrust Capital Advisors, our mission is to deliver financial peace of mind with unequaled confidence and conviction. We hope to help our clients live “A Richer Life.” We have customized our Life Planning process by utilizing the knowledge gained from the Kinder Institute. It is truly an honor to help navigate clients through our process of “A Richer Life.” As we like to put it—it’s not about being “rich,” rather, living a richer life!

In closing, as John D. Rockefeller once said,

“If your only goal is to become rich, you’ll never achieve it.”


Donna Rasile is a Senior Vice President, Investment Advisor at FinTrust Capital Advisors and a Registered Life Planner®, RLP®. She has over 30 years of experience in the investment industry. Donna focuses on helping clients achieve their financial and life goals by employing her holistic and customized approach. She prides herself on developing a deep connection with her clients and her goal of delivering the best in client service. She has been recognized in Fortune Magazine, Wall Street Journal and Charlotte magazine.

Donna Rasile, Registered Life Planner®

Senior Vice President, Investment Advisor | FinTrust Capital Advisors

5428 Carmel Park Drive, Suite 100 Charlotte, NC 28226

Phone: 864.626.5784 |704-519-8284 Fax:  864.288.5218 

drasile@fintrustadvisors.com | www.fintrustadvisors.com


Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

By Scott Malcolm, CFP®, SSA, RLP®

I am still working on the answer to that question. At the age of 20, I stumbled into a Financial Planning Assistant position, where I performed research and technical elements for an adviser. At first glance, many would think that this wasn’t my version of “living the dream,” but it sure ticked a lot of boxes for that point in my life. I was a kid who didn’t know what he wanted to do, but I was okay with maths and enjoyed computers.  

Around this time, my mentor had embarked on incorporating financial life planning into his business. At age 25, I had a few years of experience doing face-to-face work with clients and I was fortunate to be introduced to this new method. In 2005, I traveled to the US to attend the EVOKE® Life Planning Training with The Kinder Institute of Life Planning. Having taken the 2-Day Seven Stages of Money Maturity Workshop with George Kinder in Australia in the early 2000s, I thought I knew what I was getting into. As I flew over, I mentally prepared for another course on how to better serve my clients. I had doubts around being so young and working with clients as their financial planner. The experiential training wasn’t what I expected, but it was exactly what I needed. The course allowed me to look closely at my own life and how learning to better serve myself could be extended to being a better financial planner to my clients.

Going through the 5-Day training program and the subsequent Life Planning Mentorship was life-changing, both personally and professionally. I began to step into and live a more authentic life. I gave myself permission to focus on my own personal aspirations, including my desire to find a life partner. The inward focus led to outward changes that my clients, in particular, could feel. Living this more authentic life allowed me to hold space for my clients to explore their own life ambitions, empowered by a new relationship with money.  

I often say that the one commonality all of us human beings have is that we are all born into the financial system in which we live. The system is far from perfect, but when we choose to engage with the system, we can learn how to live, be, and thrive in it!

Part of the Kinder training is exploring the client’s responses to the “Three Questions”. We do this with all of our clients, and the responses provide insights and depth when building new relationships. I find the questions useful for checking in and assisting clients as they embark on their life transitions. I also use them myself as a personal reframe and focusing tool for my own life journey.

Fast forward a few years and the Global Financial Crisis hit. I was going through many life changes: I had just connected with my soon-to-be life partner (we’ve been together 12 years now) and while beginning to establish our lives together, I found myself without a job. Contemplating my next step, I redid my “Three Questions” and was confronted with the realization that I wanted to  run my own business, along with a few other dreams and experiences, including living in another city. (I still have “live in NYC” on the list but that will have to wait until a post-COVID world.)  

And so, my practice, Money Mechanics was born. My mission is to bring together human elements and technical expertise to help clients achieve their life and wealth goals. In practice this has meant finding the clients who want to go deep. I align with clients that want to gain a better understanding of what brings their life meaning and how their money can support that journey. I also love planting seeds with those clients who are not aware of these deeper elements in their relationship to money.

I am still working on the answer to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” but the EVOKE® Life Planning method has taught me that living a more authentic personal life is the key to professional success, even if you still haven’t figured out all of the details. I still have many professional goals to set, plan, and achieve, but I have reached a level of comfort–regular new client referrals and professional and personal relationships and engagements–which does leave me thinking I am “living the dream” or at least the current COVID version of it!  


Scott Malcolm has been awarded the internationally recognised Certified Financial Planner designation from the Financial Planning Association of Australia and is Director of Money Mechanics.  Money Mechanics is a fee for service financial advice firm that partners with clients in Melbourne, Canberra, Newcastle, and Sydney to achieve their life and wealth outcomes. 

Money Mechanics Pty Ltd (ABN 64 136 066 272) is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 336429) of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 47 097 797 049) AFSL and Australian Credit Licence No. 236523

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. 

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A Message from George Kinder Regarding the Recent Protests

Dear Life Planners,  

I write to you full of empathy for communities of color, who feel the impact of the coronavirus disproportionately and are subject to the effects of a racist system that disadvantages them economically and socially, endangering their very lives upon contact with law enforcement.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the countless many who came before them have exposed deeply set, systemic racism still at work in American institutions. 

It’s time for us to bring an end to racism all over the world. I think all of us as Life Planners, grounded in empathy, deep listening skills, and a sophisticated understanding of economics, have a role to play. 

I ask all of you to please consider ways in which you can take action during this time. I might suggest starting with listening, empathizing, and learning from others. If you feel compelled, take leadership and gather people together in your community to share experiences during this time. Certainly, signing petitions, writing letters to lawmakers, attending protests, engaging in community conversations, supporting organizations and causes you believe in, and committing to seek out wisdom when you find your experience limiting are all of value.  

Personally, I think that without addressing the issue of economic justice, racism will never be eliminated. It is one of the reasons that I have always supported a basic income and free, hour-long life planning sessions to anyone that needs them. 

We will be thinking of ways to offer support and resources at this time and would welcome your suggestions. In the meantime, we invite you to our other platforms: Golden Civilization Conversations and Mindful Engagement, which both have ongoing meetings that are meant to provide conversation, inspiration, and healing. 

We know racism is not simply an American phenomena and we welcome your insights. We are profoundly moved by the expressions of concern by those outside the United States. Please continue to share your support. We need it. 

I just want to say again, much though you may not feel it, with your skills of listening, empathy, and leadership, you are the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Please don’t hesitate to share these skills now with your communities.

Much aloha,

George

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Changing the Conversation From Money to Vision™

By Joan Sharp, CFP®, RLP®, CeFT™, CAP®, MSFS

In my work at River Family Advisors, I refer to myself as a Family Advisor rather than a financial planner. Every person is part of a family; this is where money stories and life expectations start. I work with clients on their vision paying close attention to a person’s beliefs, to what inspires them, and to their imagination for the future. This exploration involves considering a person’s vision before resources. I also work to discover the values that guide their decision making. 

This approach didn’t come out of thin air. It is the result of the amalgam that was my childhood and the education and experiences I’ve lived since then. From learning about art to seeing money or lack thereof dictate choices, the early years lent too much power to money. I didn’t want finances to be the primary driver, the excuse or reason for any decisions I was going to make for myself, or anyone else.

The Registered Life Planner® process, taught by the Kinder Institute, gave me tools to be a better listener for my clients, prompting me to ask questions, and to guide individuals on their discovery of their life vision. The Kinder Institute training showed me how to put a process together to start walking toward that vision and how to adjust the journey, narrowing or expanding the path, as the vision evolved.  

I believe there is more than one way of achieving your vision for the future. Using education and professional experience as an example, armed with a degree in Economics, I used my work in marketing and sales for major consumer packaged goods’ brands as a way to understand the broader business world. I studied businesses and tracked their stocks decades before moving into Financial Services, long before earning an MS in Financial Services. I also fulfill my life vision when I endeavor to make philanthropy benefit both parties. I invest time and experience in exchange for education and fulfillment with a non-profit whose mission with whom I identify.

I know first-hand what it is like to work with personal accountants and investment advisors who have a lack of understanding of my vision. In the early years of my career, I learned to self-advocate – that identifying and voicing my intentions brought inner harmony. Utilizing the Kinder Institute Evoke process is a helpful tool in determining a path ahead for my clients. I take it one step further and look at these questions as a means of identifying a vision – a continuous journey that is about a process, not a goal.

I’ve built River Family Advisors by pointing out the underlying vision and values of my clients, by helping to plan resources, and for clients to communicate that vision to others.  I want to transform what was previously an unusual occurrence into a conversation that is commonplace. I hope to leave a legacy of empowerment, where people are living and communicating their vision and purpose – changing the conversation for years to come.


Joan Sharp is the founder and visionary behind River Family Advisors, Changing the Conversation from money to Vision. Joan serves in philanthropy by sitting on the boards of Easter Seals, DE, Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Delaware Historical Society, and is a Trustee of the Christiana Care Hospital System.

Joan L. Sharp CFP®, MSFS

Registered Life Planner®
Certified Financial Transitionist®
Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®

Joan@RiverFamilyAdvisors.com
W: (302) 427-9888
C: (302) 383-9678

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A Message to Kinder Institute Life Planners Regarding the Coronavirus

Dear Life Planners,

My heart is with you during these uncertain times. I know it is hard to keep everything balanced, yet I have faith that if ever there was a community ready to take on the challenge of keeping spirits up and being emotionally grounded, it is our community of Life Planners. Throughout our training, we have learned to meet times of crisis with authenticity, empathy, compassion, and great listening. There has never been a group of financial advisers that is more trustworthy than you are.

Please take the time to ground yourself: a few breaths before you pick up the phone to call the next client on your list, a minute to close your eyes before responding to another panicked email; 20 minutes in the morning of sitting in silence and practicing letting your thoughts go and your feelings be.

They need you. We need you. The world needs you.

Our practice of inner listening retrains the mind to no longer follow the habits of stress, suffering, or neurosis that we normally follow. When we are filled with turmoil and we manage even twice to return to the breath, we send a message to our unconscious that it is no longer in charge. Remember, a bad meditation is still a “good” meditation; it’s where we do the work.

As Life Planners, you know what is in the Heart’s Core for each of your clients. That doesn’t change when the market goes haywire. It becomes stronger. Do your clients a favor and help connect them with their Heart’s Core and their Third Question.

Not nearly often enough do we take action when we ask ourselves, “Do I need to live more simply?” and “What would life be like if I earned less and spent less?” Too seldom we ask ourselves, “How can I maximize the time I live in the present moment?” or “How can I maximize my inner wealth, as opposed to my outer wealth?”

Now is the time. Do this for yourself. Do this for your clients.

We need you. They need you.

Much aloha,

George

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What does ‘Financial Freedom’ mean to you?

By Rahul Agarwal

In recent times, there has been a proliferation in usage of the term Financial Freedom across media platforms, be it a personal finance show, a financial planning article, or advertisements by financial services’ companies.

While this comes across as the logical, rather the default outcome of a family’s or an individual’s personal financial plan, my question is whether it’s the ultimate or ideal outcome. Shouldn’t we as individuals, all endeavour and aspire to venture beyond this unidimensional and constricted notion of ‘freedom’ that ties it to the singular aspect of money?

Among the several definitions of freedom that google search returned, I found the following one on the Merriam-Webster website quite pertinent as it succinctly sums up the essence of ‘freedom’ as “the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.”

In my practice as a Financial Life Planner and my collaborative work with clients, before jumping into money issues straightaway, I want to know what their deepest, most cherished dreams and aspirations are (these are usally carefully and closely guarded). We then work around the obstacles to co-create a plan that delivers precisely such freedom into their lives–starting today!

I have a client who had an almost fanatical obsession with his investment portfolio’s return alongside a laundry list of behavioural biases. During the course of doing various life planning interviews and exercises with him, I found out that the germination of these were due to the money beliefs imbibed during his formative years. Today, he is far more relaxed, is not bothered about missing out on the next ‘hot’ investment opportunity, is soon taking a voluntary retirement, and has the proverbial bucket list of things he wants to accomplish in the next 2-3 years.

I am reminded of some lyrics of George Michael’s famous song, ‘Freedom’ which was released in 1990, and it goes as follows;

“I think there’s something you should know

I think it’s time I stopped the show

There’s something deep inside of me

There’s someone I forgot to be

Take back your picture in a frame

Don’t think that I’ll be back again

I just hope you understand

Sometimes the clothes do not make the man”

We as a society have increasingly begun to attribute personal and professional success to the acquisition of material things and the accumulation of wealth. Most of us find ourselves inextricably caught in a cycle of earning, spending, and investing often induced by societal and peer pressures to fit into a perceived definition of success.

And in spite of this, how many times have we heard from even well-to-do friends and relatives that they are not exactly happy with how their lives have shaped up, how they don’t enjoy what they are doing, or how they don’t have any time to pursue their interests?

If you look closely, there is a common undercurrent running across all these statements (and several others all confirming the same thing) that we find ourselves ‘enslaved’ to a script which was not exactly aligned to our values and innermost dreams.

If money was all there was to living a life of freedom, then I encourage you to consider the first of George Kinder’s famous Three Questions. I paraphrase it here:

Imagine you have just won a lottery ticket for an amount which can ensure that you don’t need to work for another day in your life, you have more than enough to meet all your ‘financial goals’ and maintain the lifestyle you have created for yourself, how does that make you feel?

I suspect that after the initial euphoria has passed, you might find yourself thinking about what this ‘financial freedom’ means to you and what to do with it. You might start questioning the beliefs you held onto for so long and wondering why the much coveted happiness for which you craved still eludes you.

I think the answer could be discovered by answering the following question:

“What does freedom mean to me?”

Your answer to this question is likely to be so profound that it will reshape your life and all other facets, including your financial life.

And therefore, whenever I meet new prospective clients, my first question to them is,

“Is your financial plan, life-shaped™?”

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Rahul Agarwal is the Founder & Principal Adviser of Advent Financial, a boutique financial life planning & wealth management firm. He is a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) & Registered Life Planner (RLP) and has over 17 years of experience in financial services. When he is not working, he likes to spend his time reading and learning about new things with a childlike curiosity. Contact Rahul at rahul@adventfa.com & +91 8910336611. Website: www.adventfa.com.

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Taking Financial Life Guidance to the Next Level

Frank Corrado and Frankie Corrado of Robertson Stephens

By Frankie Corrado

My father, Frank Corrado and I co-founded our firm, Blue Blaze Financial Advisors, on a concept called “Financial Life Guidance”.  Financial Life Guidance embraces the important life situations clients face, explores the range of options at their disposal to determine the best path, and advises them with the goal of helping clients have informed, intentional financial decisions that have a real impact on their lives. We guide clients as they move forward in their lives, setting and achieving important goals, and overcoming the obstacles that are in the way.

By employing George Kinder’s EVOKE Life Planning process, we thoroughly understand our clients’ interests through an authentic conversation about their optimal life. The strength of this relationship obviates the need for the client to jump from advisor to advisor. They understand the importance of working with holistic, fiduciary advisors who have their best interest at heart. We are there to help them plan out all of life’s goals, risks, and opportunities, and our fiduciary nature is never compromised.

For a long time, we have heard George Kinder extoll on the need for life planning to be practiced by more advisors as a way to deliver better services and outcomes for clients. His message always resonated with us at Blue Blaze, but we were still a small firm and could not effectuate the impact he was talking about.  

On October 1, 2019, our firm, Blue Blaze, merged with Robertson Stephens Wealth Management.  The whole process started last year when Frank was asked to speak on a panel at a Fidelity conference, about their “Advice Value Stack”. Frank was on stage with some well-known advisors in the industry, but Frank differentiated himself from the rest of the panel by talking about our holistic approach of financial planning (Financial Life Guidance) and our dedication to Life Planning opportunities for our clients.  The CEO of Robertson Stephens, Stuart Katz, was in the audience for this panel and was inspired by Frank’s approach to financial planning, believing it to be a truly differentiated approach.  Stuart tracked Frank down after the panel and the two continued conversations after the conference.   

When we reconnected with Robertson Stephens, we explored how each of our firms, together, could leverage our unique talents to create a superior combined firm.  We sat down with their executive team and private equity partners to have a very candid conversation about each of our businesses and what our goals were for the future. Robertson Stephens explained they had four core pillars that their business was built upon, one of which was financial planning.  The team at Robertson Stephens had a tremendous amount of experience and expertise when it came to financial services, investment management, and delivering great service to their clients. But they also recognized something in our team that they did not have – Financial Life Guidance.

Our motivation to merge with Robertson Stephens was primarily based on the positive impact that our work has on a person’s life.  We continue aspiring to deliver “freedom” to our clients; helping them outmaneuver their plan’s obstacles is substantially rewarding to us.  And we wanted to deliver this “peace of mind” to more people.  Our goal was to grow and spread more value to clients through an expanded offering of Financial Life Guidance.  In trying to “build it on our own”, we realized that the effort was just too enormous.  However, we recognized that if we joined a firm like Robertson Stephens, we would be able to deliver Financial Life Guidance in a more efficient and effective manner not only to our existing clients but also to more people.

With the addition of our team, Robertson Stephens crossed over $1 Billion of assets under management.  We have taken a leadership role in delivering an enhanced approach to financial planning through Financial Life Guidance.  And we now feel like we have a platform where we can make a greater impact on the wealth management industry. As Robertson Stephens continues to grow, we can leverage the life planning process for more client success and freedom to more people. This is just the beginning and we are optimistic that the impact can and will be big!

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Frankie Corrado, CFP®, RLP®
Frankie is a Principal and Managing Director at Robertson Stephens. Alongside his father, Frank Corrado, CPA, CFP®, RLP, and Kevin Talty, CFP®, EA, Frankie guides clients towards peace of mind and the freedom that comes from financial security in a comprehensive plan. As a Certified Financial Planner™, Frankie combines his technical finance experience with authentic and curious listening skills to develop trusted, long term relationships focused on the client’s optimal desired outcomes. With over a decade of experience advising individuals and families, Frankie feels comfortable whether the discussion focuses on complex areas of taxation and personal finance or problem solving to reach important goals and priorities. As a Registered Life Planner (RLP), Frankie feels particularly equipped to bridge the gap that often exists between someone’s optimal life and their money. Find out more about Frankie and Robertson Stephens at https://rscapital.com/

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For more information about Frankie and Robertson Stephens, please visit rscapital.com  Investment advisory services offered through Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC (“Robertson Stephens”), an SEC-registered investment advisor. This material is for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation or offer to buy or sell any security, has not been tailored to the needs of any specific investor, and should not provide the basis for any investment decision. The information contained herein was carefully compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but Robertson Stephens cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Information, views and opinions are current as of the date of this presentation, are based on the information available at the time, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. Robertson Stephens assumes no duty to update this information. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions presented are those of the author and not necessarily those of Robertson Stephens. Investing entails risks, including possible loss of principal. Any discussion of U.S. tax matters should not be construed as tax-related advice. © 2019 Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC. All rights reserved. Robertson Stephens is a registered trademark of Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC in the United States and elsewhere.

Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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