Money is woven into so many aspects of our experience – we earn it, spend it, save it, invest it and most of all worry about it! But when you tell your life story, how does money fit in? The financial industry likes things neatly organized into predictable models, but life can be messy and people can be too sometimes. So we decided we really wanted to understand how money fits into people’s lives, and use this information to make what we do in the world of finances better and more helpful.
We turned to a research team, Riedel Strategy, who are students of social science and true consumer advocates. We said, “Tell us how to understand how people really think and feel, so we can shape our company around helping them.” Instead of the typical survey, they had the freedom to take an approach that was more open-ended – not forcing people to choose A or B – and thus more truly scientific and we think more ethical. Open discovery with no hidden agendas.
Utilizing the narrative psychology approach, which taps into how people experience and make sense of their lives through stories, we asked 30 people, all affluent investors from around the country, to tell us about their financial life. They were given these steps:
- Divide your life into chapters and name each one, like you are writing a book.
- Define the highs and lows and then name the turning points. Looking at the whole story, pick out the greatest challenge you ever faced.
- If you were writing the script for your life, what would an undesirable but possible future look like – what you hope doesn’t happen?
- If you could write a desirable and happy future, what would that be?
Unlike most surveys, people LOVED this process and we got incredibly honest insights. Here’s what we learned: It’s not about the money, it’s about life. For every single person the story of high points, low points, and turning points is unique. That’s why traditional financial planning – based on a precept that everyone goes through predictable life stages in an orderly fashion – just doesn’t cut it. You don’t wake up and say, “I’m in the accumulator phase today, moving towards financial independence where I’ll retire and spend my hard earned dollars.” That’s what advertisements say, and most advisers are trained to think that’s who you are. But that’s not you.
In every life story there are ups and downs, and some chapters where people face major turning points. Those times are not related to what’s happening with your investment portfolio and yet have the largest impact on shaping your entire life. Based on our research, we know money is important to everyone’s life, however, it isn’t the key to happiness. Life is much more than that.
You may wonder why we care so much about this. While we are technically in financial services, our company is fed up with how the industry has traditionally done things and is not addressing how people really feel and think. We do that by meeting you where your life intersects with your finances. If we can help you with what really matters – so that the life you live feels both rich and meaningful for you- that’s a good thing.
We call it financial life management. We invite you to learn more about our unique approach.