What does the future of financial planning look like? In our latest YAFPNW episode, Nathan Gehring, CFP®, talks about it with Hannah — as well as “slow financial planning,” providing value to clients, and how we’ll have to keep up with a rapidly evolving world.

Nathan Gehring, CFP®, initially wanted to talk about his ideas on the future of financial planning at an upcoming FPA Retreat. Of course, FPA Retreat was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but luckily, Nathan was able to join Hannah on our latest YAFPNW episode. In the episode, Nathan and Hannah discuss how the profession and technology are quickly evolving, “slow financial planning,” and where the value in our work lies. 

What will the future of the profession look like?

Nathan is passionate about talking about the future of financial planning, and how the profession can adapt in a world where change is accelerating dramatically. He was inspired after reading Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late for an advanced financial planning course at Golden Gate University. Nathan realized that we talk about industry-wide change in professional circles, but don’t necessarily take the time to really think about it.

In our discussion, Nathan pointed out that the world he grew up in had no internet available to the general public. Tech giants Apple and Microsoft were just a year or two old. It was a completely different world, and it was only 42 years ago. If he was to put together a plan for himself today, and project 42 years into the future, it wouldn’t look the same at all.

When it’s difficult enough as a person to keep up with the changing world, how can we adapt as financial planners? There’s no perfect answer (at least not yet), but Nathan believes that slowing down and focusing on the client is key.

Slow financial planning and providing value

Remove the numbers side of the profession, and what’s left? Working with clients. Helping them understand their situation and options. Having conversations with clients about uncertainty, alternatives, worst-case scenarios, being prepared. That’s where financial planners can shine, now and in the future when software can automate much of the process.

This is a main tenet of what Nathan calls “slow financial planning,” the idea that the numbers are secondary when it comes to the profession. 

“More and more, it's become the numbers don't matter all that much...they're not the central part of our jobs,” said Nathan. “It all doesn't matter to the client, if you can't sit in front of them and be compassionate and help them understand and help them what it means in their lives.”

That’s why the value is in the planning, not the plan, Nathan said. Financial planners have to go beyond the numbers: listen to your clients, understand their motivations and fears, and know that they have the autonomy to make the decisions — even when they run contrary to the numbers. 

A lifetime of learning

Being open to communication and remembering that you don’t have all the answers (nor do you need to) go hand-in-hand with Nathan’s advice for new financial planners, too. Prepare to work hard and prepare for a lifetime of learning.

“You have to take responsibility for your career yourself, and there are periods where it is extremely challenging work,” said Nathan. “The sooner you can get to being fully on board with continuing just lifetime learning, and not just in financial planning, but a whole breadth of topics, the quicker you'll become kind of proficient at it

What You’ll Learn:

  • How the book Thank You for Being Late inspired Nathan
  • Just how quickly are things changing today?
  • The value in planning, but not in the plan
  • How Nathan’s financial planning journey has evolved
  • Slow financial planning
  • How clients have evolved throughout Nathan’s career
  • Nathan’s advice for new planners

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP®, and Nathan Gehring, CFP®, discuss:

Want to keep up with Nathan on social media? Follow Nathan on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @nathangehring.