What does a financial planner actually DO?

In our usual articles, we bang on about investments all the time, because that’s the tangible bit that clients see.

It’s a bit like painting a wall. It’s all in the preparation. Afterwards, you don’t see the sanding down and hole-filling, all you see is the nice finish.

The investing part of our role happens further down the line. We can’t tell you how to invest until you tell us how you want to spend your money. So this article talks about what happens in the planning phase.

Financial planning

You’ll notice we call ourselves financial planners. Not financial advisers. So what’s the difference?

A financial adviser focuses on investment and insurance products.

A financial planner takes a different starting point. In a way, we wear three hats.

  • First, we look at your lifestyle, goals and objectives = Life planner
  • Then, we build you a bespoke plan = Financial Planner
  • Finally, we recommend an investment portfolio or financial product = Financial adviser

You’re a CFP. So what?

Lance is among 181,360 Certified Financial Planners in the world.*

CFP professionals rank higher than other financial professionals when it comes to honesty and integrity (57% vs. 47%), understanding their clients’ needs and goals (53% vs. 40%) and placing their clients’ interests first (51% vs. 38%).
2015 FPSB/GfK research findings from 19,000 consumers in 19 territories

What we do most of is planning (the clue is in the name). Apart from the investment piece, this is where clients get most value.

Here is a typical question we ask during a planning session:

“Have you got enough money to give up work?”

If yes, we call that financial independence, because it gives you choice.

Remember, when you are working, you are (hopefully) earning more than you spend – but you don’t have much free time. When you stop working, you have much more free time – but you are (probably) spending more than you earn.

Typically, men do badly when they give up work, because they get their value from the workplace and don’t know how to keep themselves busy in retirement. (Yes, we know that’s a sweeping generalisation.)

A good financial plan gives you the choice about what to do.

For more on this, you might like to read The Number by Lee Eisenberg. He invites you to dream a little, work out what you ideally want to do in retirement, and helps you work out the amount you need.

Then you’ll know how much is enough.

Lifestyle financial planning

George Kinder is the founder of the lifestyle financial planning movement which started in Hawaii and has been spreading across the world since about 2012.

The Kinder Institute for Life Planning recommends these three questions:

  1. Imagine that you have more money than you’ll ever need. How would you live your life? What would you do tomorrow?
  2. If a doctor told you that you have five to 10 years to live (while feeling healthy), what would you do with your time?
  3. If a doctor told you that you have one or two days to live, what did you miss? What do you regret?

This forces you to think about what you *really* want out of life.

Here are some possible answers:

  • Buy a boat and sail off around the world
  • Set up your own charitable foundation
  • Buy a property abroad
  • Help your grandchildren get onto the housing ladder
  • Sit back, read books, bake bread and grow flowers

There is another choice. You might hate your job but be too scared to stop working because you’re afraid you won’t have enough money.

The financial planning process might reveal different options. If you do this or that (take a pension drawdown for example), you might find you can stop work sooner than you thought.

Happy FP day to us!

This year’s World Financial Planning Day was on 2 October 2019. It’s designed to help raise awareness of the value of financial planning, of having a financial plan, and of working with a competent and ethical financial planner who puts their clients’ interests first.


(Don’t worry, you don’t need to send us a card unless you want to!)

7-11 October is Financial Planning Week.

During this week, you can book a FREE one-hour financial planning session from a CISI-certified financial planning professional to help achieve financial well-being and life goal planning. These confidential one-to-one sessions are worth up to £500.


Would you be willing to refer us?

If you like our approach, please recommend us to your friends and family. When they agree to work with us, we’ll send you a little something as a thank you.

*Total CFPs at the end of 2018

Lance Baron

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) based in East Sussex, UK. We support people in Southeast England with more than £500K to invest by building a financial plan that will help them live the life they want… until age 100