Too many advisers tell people what they want to hear. Proper financial advice is about telling them what they need to hear. It’s also about asking questions — not the easy ones that clients are happy to answer, but questions they’d really not think about at all.
I recently lost my father. It upset me to learn, a few months before he died, that his experience of financial advice had not been particularly positive. He’d been recommended financial products that were unnecessarily complicated and were costing him far more than he needed to pay.
But what upset me more than anything else is that no one appeared to have asked my father what his thoughts were on the possibility that he would one day need full-time nursing care. Would he want to be cared for at home? Would he prefer to be in a nursing home? If his quality of life had substantially deteriorated, would he really want the medical experts to try to prolong his life as much as possible?
These are difficult questions for people to confront, and for family members to ask of their loved ones (though, in hindsight, I wish I had asked them myself). These are, however, just the sort of questions that a financial life planner should be putting to their clients.
I can highly recommend this article on the subject by Dan Solin. Thank you, Dan for raising this hugely important issue. After all, if advisers don’t ask uncomfortable but important questions, the danger is that no one will.