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The Grim Reaper & the purpose and power of PROPER financial planning.

I confess. I was sailing. Too busy to bother with Twitter, or Facebook. So, as often happens, I miss the news. I don’t stress. Life goes on. But I received the following in my inbox this morning. It sums up the events of the last few weeks quite nicely – and serves as a perfect reminder of what we should be doing for our clients.

“That summer day the heavens opened and Mother Nature cried tears of sorrow as one of her favourite sons no longer walked the earth.

That was how it felt to a 14-year-old in August 1977, the night that Elvis Presley died. It was announced on the news and my mum came into my room to tell me. My bedroom was festooned with posters of a man now part of history instead of making it.

Elvis was 42 when he died and to a teenager that sounded old. Now, to a man of 53 it seems desperately young.

“Why couldn’t someone else have died?”, my step-father proclaimed, “Someone old, like Bing Crosby.” Within a few months a heart attack on a golf course took the crooner to join Elvis and in between, Marc Bolan crashed into a tree.

That was the last time it felt like so many people died, but now it would appear that the Grim Reaper has spent time sharpening his scythe.

This weekend was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death; I wonder if his passing was felt the same way as the news we heard last week that Prince had died.

The Bard was 52 when his life ended. Prince Rogers Nelson was 57; I am between the two. When Elvis died my life stretched before me, but now I know I am almost certainly closer to my death than I am to my birth.

It’s this that strikes home with the annihilation of my youth.

Lemmy began it all, then Bowie and the other night I saw Alan Rickman’s final film performance in the excellent Eye in the Sky. Every week now it seems the scythe cuts down another part of my youth.

At 14, I wondered about my future, now I know it is mine to make. The bucket list is written, the dreamboard made, the 90 day goals planned and each day I awake to achieve a little more; to add a little more to a life already interesting.

I can’t bear the thought of getting old and looking back and asking ‘what if?’.

When someone famous dies we mourn for them, but we also mourn for ourselves.

As clearly as I remember that rainy day in 1977, so I also remember the joy of the music, the television, the concerts, the loves and the failures of the years.

Prince, Michael Jackson, John Lennon and so many others who provided the soundtrack to my formative years.

Tony Curtis, the Two Ronnies, Ed Bishop and Gerry Anderson who made me laugh and dream through the power of television; and for every movie I have ever seen that inspired me when I left the darkened cocoon of cinema, my closeted home, my theatre of dreams.

Many are sad that Victoria Wood passed away. Some will cry with the doves. But we know, deep down, that really it’s for us that we mourn the most. That our lives tick away towards the inevitable.

To re-frame, it is exactly this that should help us rejoice in life.

Success begins in the moment you open your eyes each morning and rejoin the land of the living vowing to party like it’s 1999.

Continue that party, as best you can, through the ups, the downs, the fun and the sadness; our time here is short, but we get to choose what we do and how we make the most of it – and as entrepreneurs we are blessed with many more choices than most.

And, of course, the music we leave behind will remind others why we were here…”

Thank you to Andy Gibney for those words.

To me, this a perfect reminder of WHY we do the job as Financial Advisers and WHY I now do the job of reminding Advisers that there’s more to this than the latest new funds, the cheapest portfolio, or saving a little tax here and there.

You young whippersnappers won’t recognise the names of half of those above. You’re too young to GET IT. You haven’t suffered enough yet. You’re still in your first week. Enjoy it while you can. It won’t last.

But those of you over the age of 45, reading the above words, I’m guessing you probably feel you could have written them yourself. Like me, like Andy, you’re in the second week of your life – the second week of your two week stay here on this planet. Your first week is long gone. And your second week is slipping by fast. You realise that time seems to be speeding up the older you get. You know that life is not a rehearsal; that precious time IS slipping away.

You know it. Your clients know it.

Connecting your service with what really matters to clients is what it’s all about. Helping clients to think about what they want to do with what little time they’ve got left on this planet – and then helping them to do stuff before it’s too late – that’s what’s important. That’s when your service comes alive. That’s when clients connect with you and what you stand for. That’s when they understand the purpose and power of PROPER financial planning.

Quite frankly, clients don’t much care if you’re a few bps cheaper or a few bps more expensive, or whether you’re Chartered, or Certified, or whether you’re independent or restricted.

Sorry folks, especially you young ‘uns, but none of that REALLY matters.

The question is, how will clients think and act differently because of their relationship with you? What music will you leave behind?

Paul Armson is the founder of Inspiring Advisers and the author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Financial Planners – How to really matter in the lives of your clients’. He’s also the founder of BACK2Y – The Lifestyle Financial Planning Conference. A free video of this years event is available here.

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