5 Principles of Good Financial Planning

You’re an expert in your field, but what do you do when you come across a planning situation that’s out of your depth? Today’s guest works with advisors and their clients to create better financial and retirement plans.

Yvonne Martin-Morrison is a financial planner with Raymond James Ltd.’s Retirement and Financial Planning Group. In 2019, she was the winner of the PlanPlus Global Financial Planning Award for Canada. She provides planning services, advice, and tax intelligence for Raymond James advisors and their clients. Her work also involves creating educational materials, presentations, and publications to empower advisors and help them better serve their clients.

Listen to the episode to find out what Yvonne has to say about her no-nonsense approach to financial planning, her principles of good financial planning, and how to approach decumulation. 

What You’ll Learn in This Episode: 

  • How Yvonne approaches working with advisors and their clients (5:25)
  • When advisors should reach out to Yvonne for support (13:20)
  • Overcoming clients’ objections to planning (17:35)
  • Yvonne’s basic, no-nonsense definition of financial planning (19:45)
  • Yvonne’s approach to decumulation in retirement (36:20)
  • The power of principles (40:40)
  • Common mistakes advisors make when bringing in an outside expert (50:45)

 Links and Resources:

Raymond James

 Quotes by Yvonne Martin-Morrison:

“It’s very important that I avoid getting lost in the details right at the beginning.”

“What is the point of planning if you’re not implementing the strategies and solutions?”

“When we get those outputs and those software results, that allow me to really dig into analysis. And I think that’s one of the challenges for a lot of advisors is they think an output is the end. For me, that’s the beginning.”

Yvonne has been through it all as a financial advisor – from her uncertain rookie years to taking on some of the most complex situations in the business. Now, she steps in to help other advisors create integrated and comprehensive financial and retirement plans for their clients.

Below, we’re sharing three key ideas that Yvonne has to share in this episode:

  • How Yvonne approaches working with advisors and their clients
  • Overcoming clients’ objections to financial planning
  • The power of principles in retirement planning

For the rest of the episode, find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or hit the link above.

How Yvonne approaches working with advisors and their clients

Yvonne approaches working with advisors the same way you probably approach working with your clients. She asks them about where they are at in their planning, how they’ve been doing, what’s been working for them, and what their frustrations are.

Because she works with so many different advisors (and their clients), it’s important for her not to get bogged down in minutiae. She wants to get right to the heart of their issue so that she’s not wasting anyone’s time.

Earning trust

Advisors are often a bit cautious when bringing on an external expert like Yvonne to help them. And that makes sense – you probably feel the same way if you start recommending a new accountant or lawyer to clients. When you’re ultimately responsible for your client’s financial well-being, you want to make sure that the person coming in is the expert they claim to be and that they will impact your relationship with the client positively.

To earn their trust, Yvonne works hard to establish open communication and clear expectations. She’s been where they are, so she respects the fact that they are running their own business. She gets that they know their clients better than she does, so she seeks to understand their situation. She shows that she knows what she’s talking about and that she’s really there to help.

Her ultimate goal isn’t to make them the perfect advisor; her goal is progress. She works with them and empowers them to help them be a little bit better tomorrow, the day after that, and the day after that.

Overcoming clients’ objections to financial planning

Planning is such an important part of financial well-being, but a lot of clients are reluctant to do it. So how can you convince them of the value of planning when they’re not interested?

Yvonne shares how you can overcome two main objections.

They’ve tried it before and it didn’t work

Often, clients have had some financial planning experience, but it didn’t go well or wasn’t useful for whatever reason.

This is a reasonable objection. There’s experience behind it, and it’s your job to find out why it exists. You need to dig in and listen to what they’ve shared with you.

What has been their experience? What was the result? Where did their frustration with planning come from?

Once you understand why they didn’t like financial planning before, you can show them how their experience with you will be different – what you’re going to do that will be new to them and how it will help them.

Planning is hard

It sure is! But, as Yvonne puts it, “anything worth doing is going to have a level of difficulty and challenge.” This is especially true when they’re trying something new for the first time. The great thing about planning is that it does get easier with time – let them know that the work they need to put in upfront will lessen, and they’ll start to see benefits that will more than make up for their initial effort.

Hint: One great tool that Yvonne loves to use to show clients the value of planning is storytelling. If you can tell someone, “I have a client like you who had similar concerns” and share with them what results they were able to achieve, they’ll be able to visualize what you’re telling them in a much more visceral way.

The power of principles in retirement planning

When Yvonne works with advisors, they often ask her for basic rules they can follow to get the best results every time.

Of course, planning doesn’t really work with rules. You can pretty much expect that any assumptions you make will be a bit off, and projections never come to be exactly as expected.

That’s why Yvonne likes to share basic principles – not rules or formulas – that she encourages advisors to work off of. Here are some of her favourites:

  • You can’t have everything, so you need to prioritize: There are unlimited strategies and possibilities when it comes to financial planning, but you can only pick one. Go for strategies that have the highest impact but minimize the risk (that is, impact and likelihood) of negative consequences.
  • Don’t get locked into one idea: Even though you can only pick one strategy at a time, don’t get too hung up on one particular idea. Keep evaluating other options to ensure your clients are on the right track.
  • A guarantee is very valuable: If your client can have a guaranteed, reliable source of income in retirement, that’s very valuable and greatly reduces risk.

Hint: There’s a lot of misconception out there that the CPP is always in danger of failing; while this was true in the 90s, it’s just not the case anymore. It now has guaranteed benefits for the next 70 years, as well as huge protections.

  • Get paid to wait if you can: If you’re able to rely on other sources of income and defer the CPP, do it. You likely can’t get that kind of guaranteed return anywhere else.
  • Consider longevity: If your client is very ill and isn’t expected to live more than a few years, that’s an important consideration. Don’t defer benefits for someone who is unlikely to be able to enjoy them in the future anyway.

Hint: Are you looking for more advice from retirement planning experts? Listen to Episode 11: The Art and Science of Retirement Income Planning with Howard Dixon.

Yvonne has a lot of wisdom to share about financial and retirement planning, so don’t miss the full episode where she shares her detailed planning process, how she uses software to aid in her financial planning and more. You can find the show right here on this page or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so you don’t miss any episodes. 

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