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The emergence of the financial therapist

December 2016

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There’s been a lot of talk, some may say a movement, for financial advisers to become financial coaches or therapists, says ifa editor Linda Santacruz.

Speaking at a round table discussion of industry experts, she says understanding what this means could uncover an important present trend as well as future direction for the advice sector.

Financial therapists or coaches are much more than advisers, says ANZ Wealth aligned dealer groups general manager Darren Whereat, explaining that they essentially help a client go from A to B and develop a strategy for that journey.

Experts agree that this coaching role is already a part of the way good advisers operate.

Advisers’ role is now much more than answering the question ‘how much money do I get at retirement?’ says ANZ Wealth managing director Alexis George. She says it’s a role that logically extends into being a coach and it’s a process that covers such matters as values, approach to aged care and being a go-to person in a time of crisis.

This highlights how it’s all about relationship, says Orion Financial Group director Sacha Loutkovsky. The biggest market right now is pre-retirees for Orion. And for those preparing for and entering retirement the adviser is the best role to be there holding clients’ hands and acting as a family manager, she adds.

“If you think about the large financial professional space: accountants, estate-planning lawyers, I’ve traditionally seen them as providing a very good technical service, but who’s there to hold the hand and be the relationship manager?”

Values and dreams are a large part of the conversation between clients and planners, says ANZ Wealth insurance managing director Gavin Pearce. It’s a process that helps partners sort out their differences and to consider such areas as philanthropy.

And it’s discussion of life values and goals that clients must be prepared to do to get the most out of their time with advisers, says Integra Financial Services adviser Deborah Kent. Similarly, the adviser must have the emotional intelligence to effectively sort out what the client’s dreams are, and not try and dive straight into offering a solution, which should come at the end of that process.

“It’s about getting all that emotional stuff right first, and some advisers still just haven’t quite got that.”