Implementing a life-planning approach

By Barry LaValley | September 8, 2006 | Last updated on September 8, 2006
2 min read

(September 2006) Do you want to incorporate a life-planning approach in your practice, but don’t know where to begin? Below are six steps for implementing a life-planning approach to get you started.

To learn more about why you should consider a life planning approach, please click here.

1. Client discovery program. The key to becoming a transition-based advisor is being able to talk to a client about life issues in a way that makes sense as part of your job as a financial advisor. Your client discovery program has to focus on life issues and take a values-based approach.

2. Financial planning process. Your financial planning process has to tie a client’s life needs and possible transitions into a plan that makes sense to the client. It can’t just focus on investment management or tax planning — those are financial issues, not life issues.

3. Target market. The life-based approach is particularly effective if you use it in a target market. Some examples are "fifty-plus" clients, "high-net-worth" clients, centres-of-influence, women in retirement etc.

4. Education. Life-based advisors view themselves as educators for clients on issues that the clients should think about. This translates into seminars, newsletters, websites etc. that focus on life issues. In fact, the most powerful question used by a life-based advisor is "HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT…?"

5. Professional referral program. There are many businesses in your community who have the same clients as you do and are outside of the financial services industry. If you are adopting this approach, you want to find ways to let your community know what you do, how you do it and what is different about it?

6. Wealth advisor approach. Many life-based advisors have redefined the term wealth. For them and their clients, wealth is about more than money. It is about the client’s ability to do WHAT they want, WHEN they want and HOW they want. The wealth advisor or life-first planner helps them accomplish those goals.

Barry LaValley is a partner in the LifeFirst Approach, a consulting company helping advisors implement a wealth management approach to their practice. In addition, he works with major investment firms and educational institutions on both sides of the border to help them understand the issues faced by a maturing client. He can be reached at

Barry LaValley