I attended my second XY Planning Network (XYPN) conference in St. Louis two weeks ago and had a total blast. It was so awesome to be around a group of dynamic financial planners rewriting the rules, starting their own businesses and sharing a common mission to bring REAL financial planning to the underserved Gen X and Gen Y markets. If the members of XYPN do their jobs, the denizens of the Jurassic world of commissions, hidden agendas/kickbacks and promoters of the weak suitability standard are not long for this world! Our firm, Logbook Financial Planning, will use these ideas to continue to bring affordable, fee-only, fiduciary advice to the dedicated men and women that make this world a better place–Foreign Service, military, & federal government employees.
Here are the takeaways from my favorite speakers in no particular order:
1. Asking the right questions is more important than knowing the right answers
Active listening is a skill that all professionals need to work on. And there is no reason to show off your knowledge or to try to prove your competence to your clients or audience. Spend your time listening, really listening. And then reframing what you heard back to them. If you do give a detailed or technical answer, check-in with the client or audience for understanding. Finally, do not be afraid to say that you want to double-check something if the answer to a client’s or audience’s question does not come immediately to mind. That does not damage your “Corridor Reputation” (State Department parlance) one bit.
2. Don’t copy other advisors
This one really hit home for me. Why does my website and service model sound like everybody else? I am an outsider who has been watching this industry skeptically for 25 years. There is not another ex-Air Force officer, ex-airline pilot, ex-diplomat turned financial planner and business owner in the world! I waited all of these years to start my own firm, so I could do it on my own terms, serve the clients that I want to serve and do it the way I want to serve them. I WILL use my vast experience and expertise with the FSPS, FERS, TSP, FEGLI, etc. to run an advisory firm serving those who serve others.
3. Deliver transformation not information
This is what real financial planners should be trying to deliver. If you can achieve a position of high trust and high intimacy with your clients by doing life-centered planning, then you can transform your client’s lives. Help each and every one of your clients live their best life possible with the resources that they have at their disposal. One of my favorite speakers in the industry, Mitch Anthony, talks about the sacred trust that financial advisors hold by managing the life savings of their clients. Information and advice are powerful but strive for transformation.
4. Don’t be a one note song, have range and agility
Awesome keynote on diversity and inclusion by Audra Bohannon. Open up your aperture. Get conscious, get curious, get serious. XYPN is a such a diverse group but the financial services industry as a whole has a long way to go. I’m reminded of when Colin Powell became the Secretary of State. Gone was the “Yale, male, pale” requisite profile as he worked to make the State Department diplomats representative of the faces of America – every shade of color, religious affiliation, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. That shift created new and diverse perspectives that made the State Department better and XYPN's diverse group is powering that same change in the financial services industry!
5. Aim high–don’t run a business in a state of fear
Guilty. I have been having this debate in my head for 18 months. Is this going to be a small comfortable lifestyle practice in Maine or do I want to build something bigger? It has been lonely working as a solo business owner after leading large teams in embassies and consulates around the world. Teamwork is a core to my being from my Air Force days. I’ve decided that I do want to build a team again to make Logbook an enduring advisory firm that can do the things WE (my new team) want to do for clients in this world. All without fear of growth and for the sole purpose of impacting more and more lives.
6. The problem with material things is that they are easier to compare
Dr. Dunn, behavioral scientist and author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending was the highest rated speaker at the conference. Her research is fascinating, and she presented it in a fun and informative way. Why don't "things" make people happier despite most everyone doing their best to outspend one another (and showing off on social media in the process)? To answer that question, Dr. Dunn boiled it down to the one sentence above. You can compare material things but not experiences. Your experiences are unique to only you and they will make you happier than material goods. So, keep traveling, going to concerts and having fun with your family and friends! Definitely going to read her book soon.
There you have it–some of my favorite ideas from XYPN LIVE 18. I’m looking forward to applying these insights into serving our clients better and better each day and building the advisory firm of the future.
Hope you can join us at XYPN LIVE 19 next year!
Financial Planner & Founder
Logbook Financial Planning, LLC
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