If you feel disconnected from the financial services industry, you are not alone. And it probably won’t surprise you to learn one key reason many people have been staying on the sidelines in the financial services industry: the fact that existing products fail to address our primary financial priorities, security and protection (rather than, say, “wealth management” or “retirement”). The industry, in short, doesn’t “get” us.
Most of us know we need a plan, and we feel better when we have one. But it’s nearly impossible to get support to develop a financial plan that aligns with who we are, with our goals and priorities.
More and more, we are think about our lives holistically, and we approach our finances the same way.
Vibrant Nation financial blogger Kitty O’Keefe explains this in her excellent blog post, A Radical Approach to Personal Net Worth:
How do you assign a financial value to:
- Your loved ones?
- What you love to do?
- Your talents?
- Your education?
In a radical departure from generally accepted business practices, why don’t we assign financial assets a non-financial point value that represents how much they contribute to your overall happiness? Money and other financial assets have value only to the degree that they make you happy. What if you’re not happy? Then spread your “groovy points” (meaning: your time and attention) among the categories that do make you happy, and start spending your time more accordingly. No excuses. This is your life. And you only get one.
Kitty’s insights illustrate so clearly what is true for so many people – that feeling “rich” is rarely tied to a specific bank balance or solely to material comfort, but rather, derived from the meaningful connections we have to family, friends, work, and community.
This is who we are and how we live, every day – juggling roles, balancing work and personal life, weighing compromises and making sacrifices, when necessary.
The real problem is that few financial products and services are designed to take a holistic approach across all of the financial concerns in our lives (see below). And unfortunately, this is particularly true for clients with fewer investible assets and lower incomes—arguably, the very clients who need support from the financial services industry the most!
At SUM180, our research, which was based on women but applies broadly to all underrepresented populations, shows that most of us are motivated by money goals and outcomes, not by numbers; that we want to work with advisers to make decisions about our money, but often feel at a disadvantage in a playing field that seems overwhelmingly geared toward people with a lot of money; that we are turned off by the whole investment “game”; and that we really don’t want to spend large chunks of our time thinking and talking about our money.
SUM180 was designed to address all of these concerns, while giving our clients what they truly want and need: a sense of security and the knowledge they have a comprehensive plan in place. More on the “how” of that in my next post.