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Goal Setting: How Important?

The feedback received from clients participating in our “Financial Vision” process confirms that goal-setting is very important.

By Tim Rowland

The company which publishes our financial planning software, MoneyGuidePro, recently shared an interesting and, I believe, profound observation: When a financial advisor sets goals for a client, the average number of goals established is 2.5. In contrast, when clients enter goals for themselves, the average number jumps to 7.5.

Why the big difference? MoneyGuidePro didn’t offer an explanation, but my experience suggests that planners tend to focus heavily on the big picture and on funding retirement, while clients are more attuned to their specific needs, wants and wishes.

Consistent with Rowland Carmichael’s core value of “putting the client first,” I appreciate the enormous benefits of looking at goal setting from our clients’ unique point of view. So to the question “How important are goals?” I would suggest this answer: “Very important!”

The goal-setting challenge is to spend time in conversation with our clients about their dreams and their concerns. To that end, we have been coaching some clients through a Financial Vision process, and the feedback has been very encouraging.

The process involves three steps:

  1. Telling us your story. A common question from clients is, “Where do we begin?” Our answer: “Wherever you would like.” It has been amazing for us to learn so much more about our clients, even those who have been with us for more than twenty years. Why is this helpful to you and to us? Frankly, we are products of our history – particularly what is often called our money history. This history helps our clients understand why they act the way they do when facing money issues.
  2. Telling us what you want. The next question we ask is, “What would you like to accomplish that requires planning, money and time?” The conversation helps bring focus to financial priorities, often encompassing travel, volunteering, health, part-time work, spiritual growth, career, friends, family, and many other aspects of your life.
  3. Creating your Financial Vision. Through the Financial Vision process, together we identify your goals, prioritize them, and develop written plans to accomplish your goals within a reasonable time frame. The most effective vision documents, which we can help you draft and track, link the emotions associated with an accomplished goal – such as how proud and happy you will be when, after helping to fund a grandchild’s college education, you are able to attend and celebrate his or her graduation.

As Rowland Carmichael continues to implement our “goals-based” client experience, we invite you to explore the possibilities and benefits that a goal-setting discussion with your wealth manager could offer to you and your family.