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Wealth & Well-Being

A Deeper Kind of Financial Planning

Suppose you suddenly found out that you only have 24 hours to live.

What are the things you'd regret not getting a chance to do? Which experiences, relationships or opportunities would you miss? Which dreams would you regret not having the chance to achieve?

These might seem like strange questions for a financial advisor to ask—after all, we're supposed to help our clients with money, right? It's true that at Northstar, we take financial planning and investing very seriously. But these sorts of profound "what if" questions can help open a window into our clients' deepest wishes, values and goals. And that can provide the basis for creating more-meaningful financial plans.

I learned this lesson in 2005, when I was trained as a Registered Life Planner by George Kinder, a pioneer who is helping to change the way we think about money and goals. The traditional approach to financial advice is mainly technical—it deals with maximizing investment returns, for example, or paying for specific goals such as retirement.

These goals are important, but they shouldn't exist in a vacuum. Because human beings are each unique and multi-dimensional, our deepest aspirations can't simply be reduced to numbers. The Life Planning approach acknowledges this truth in a way that conventional financial advice doesn't.

It's my hope that Life Planning will eventually be the norm in the advisory industry. Right now, too many advisors are narrowly focused on beating the market or selling investment products.

Over the years, our clients have sometimes been a bit surprised to be asked those "what-if" questions:"What if you had all the money you needed—how would you live your life?""What if you had just five or 10 years to live—what would you do differently?"

Yet they've told us again and again that the perspective gained through Life Planning has resulted in more confident financial decisions and greater personal satisfaction. In short, it's helped them to, as George Kinder likes to say, "live inspired lives." If you'd like to discuss Life Planning, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

 If you have any questions, or would simply like to discuss this topic further, feel free to reach me at 603.458.2776 or email me here.

Written by Robin Young

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