Ep 169: Guiding Clients Beyond Money with Paul Armson

In this episode of Bridging the Gap, Matt Reiner sits down with Paul Armson, a financial advisor who has transitioned his approach to focus on lifestyle financial planning. Initially drawn to the industry by the potential income from selling financial products, Paul had a major wake-up call after his mother’s sudden death. This event prompted him to reevaluate his career priorities and redirect his strategy towards helping clients live their lives to the fullest in the present, rather than deferring enjoyment to the future. Paul now emphasizes the importance of understanding clients’ current lifestyle and their deeper, more meaningful life goals.

Paul advocates to move away from the traditional, product-centric approach typical in the financial services industry. He underscores the importance of advisors focusing on understanding the client’s needs and guiding them towards a richer, more fulfilling life. Paul introduces the concept of lifestyle financial planning, which aims to help clients figure out “how much is enough” to live their desired life. By understanding and connecting with clients on a more personal level, advisors can provide a service that goes beyond simple financial advice, fostering trust and a more profound impact on the client’s life.

Matt and Paul discuss various tools and methodologies that can aid advisors in this client-centric approach, including surveys to gauge clients’ financial confidence and specific tools Paul has developed to track clients’ progress. They also touch on the challenges that come with changing clients’ expectations from traditional financial conversations to more holistic life planning discussions. Paul encourages advisors to recognize the influence of the financial industry on their thinking and to prioritize the overall client experience over the narrow focus on financial products. This episode underscores the importance of advisors being life planners first, truly understanding their clients’ stories, and helping them achieve their desired lifestyles.  

Timestamps From This Episode
[20:21] Advisors should prioritize clients over money to build trust and avoid the transaction trap, where relationships become purely transactional. Instead, by genuinely showing interest in the client’s life and goals, trust is built, leading to a more meaningful and significant relationship.
[22:00] Focusing on the client’s story and aspirations can ultimately result in the client entrusting all their financial matters to the advisor. On the other hand, if the focus is solely on the client’s money, it can lead to a perception of desperation for business, potentially resulting in only acquiring small investments.
[31:20] How does an advisor attribute their value to the client through lifestyle planning? Is it about demonstrating the tangible benefits such as the number of trips the client was able to take or the ability to understand and measure living one’s purpose every day? This poses a challenge for the human brain to connect the dots, and the experience of the advisor can shed light on this aspect.
[35:56] Financial advisors should focus on the truth about money, which means understanding what clients need to achieve their desired lifestyle and financial security. This concept emphasizes the importance of not solely focusing on specific financial products, but rather on the broader picture of clients’ goals and needs.
[37:35] It can be challenging for advisors to shift their approach from immediate discussions about investments to truly understanding their clients’ stories and aspirations. Balancing industry and client needs is crucial for growth.

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Bridging the Gap is a financial podcast hosted by CEO Matt Reiner focused on bringing together leaders from the finance and the technology industries to focus on innovating the financial services industry.