Tool Examiner: Present Financial Life

This “Tool Examiner” article looks at the Present Financial Life tool.

Present Financial Life (PFL) is a tool designed to create a life-focused, values-based context for your initial data gathering efforts with prospective and new clients. PFL will help to build rapport with your prospective and new clients while also keeping your “get acquainted” conversations efficient and productive. PFL questions will assist you in getting to know your clients, and will provide insight in these important areas:

  • Financial beliefs and behaviors
  • Current family circumstances and responsibilities
  • Current and future transitions
  • Fears and concerns
  • Values and priorities
  • Hopes and dreams

PFL can be used to facilitate “get acquainted” conversations that focus on the lives of your prospective or new clients. As a result, you will be demonstrating your client-centered approach. This tool is available as both an interview form and as a worksheet that can be completed by your prospective or new client. When using the interview version, use the form to guide your conversation in prospective or new client meetings. As an alternative, the worksheet version can be used as a questionnaire that your prospective or new client can complete and return prior to meeting with you.

Each question is designed to focus your initial data gathering efforts on the current circumstances and priorities of your prospective or new clients.  Here are two examples:

“Tell me about your family.”

Reveals current family structure and enhances understanding of the individual’s financial responsibilities. Indicates degree of importance of family and the role of “family” in the individual’s life. Reveals the life stage of family members whose needs should be considered in the financial planning process.

“What are some of the factors or circumstances in your life that could affect your financial plan?”

Provides the opportunity to express fears, concerns, and problems the individual may not otherwise express. Allows the advisor to learn of family or work situations that may impact the individual’s financial security. Responses may indicate a need for specific financial planning products and actions.

Remain flexible in this discovery process. Use PFL as a guide only; allow for spontaneity. Also remain attentive to your client’s answers and let those responses lead to additional inquiry. Really listen and maintain good eye contact. Jot a few notes regarding significant pieces of information. Be on the alert for information that reveals your prospective or new client’s concerns, circumstances, values, and priorities. Ask yourself how this information is pertinent to his or her current financial life and how it will likely influence his or her future financial life.

If you are meeting with a couple, it is advisable that each partner be given a PFL worksheet to complete. The areas considered to be relevant or cause concern are likely to vary between the two individuals. It is important to note the differences and similarities and to include that information in your discussions and in the advice you give. Each partner should feel that his or her responses are respected and given equal consideration.

Make notes of key points that surface in your conversation with your client—do not try to rely on your memory alone. Use your notes to focus your thinking on your client and increase your understanding of his/her perspective, needs, circumstances, values, priorities, and aspirations. Also use your notes to guide future meetings and create a plan of action.

Note: The Present Financial Life tool is included in all Money Quotient Licensing Levels–1, 2, 3 & 4. For information about becoming an M.Q. Licensee, please e-mail info@moneyquotient.org. “Tool Examiner” articles take an in-depth look at a specific tool from within the Money Quotient suite of Financial Life Planning® materials, and provide tips and techniques for successfully using the tool with clients.

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