George Kinder is a US financial planner. He created the concept of financial life planning, wrote a book entitled The Seven Stages of Money Maturity and is now internationally recognised as the father of the life planning movement. He is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning, based in Boston, MA.
He took financial planning to the next stage when he realised that most of his clients’ problems were not about investment as such, but about their relationship with money and its impact on their lives.
Kinder had for some time been running two day Seven Stages workshops in the States before I met him. Initially these were aimed at consumers. In response to demand from US financial planners, Kinder had created a course for planners and in July 2004 he came to the UK to give his first Seven Stages workshop to UK financial planners.
I will never forget those two days. There were just ten of us in the room and initially I remained deeply sceptical of the concept, which started by looking at childhood memories and their impact on our present financial behaviour, then delved deeper into emotional pain around money. This ran completely counter to my current figures and spreadsheet oriented approach to my clients and initially I resisted strongly.
However, as the workshop wore on I began to sense that this was something of such importance it simply could not be ignored. Here were the real answers to my clients problems, answered in a way that also built an extremely strong, almost unbreakable, connection with the client. Kinder taught me that all the financial products in the world will never work for clients unless they are fundamentally connected to the client’s deepest life goals and emotions. I began to realise why the UK had such high early redemption and surrender rates – because the products had been sold for the wrong reasons.
From that day I was hooked, and I started a detailed exploration of the human psyche for the first time in my life. In so doing I realised that this, rather than tax and investment, was what really interested me. I started to delve into the world of human pain and emotions, a world which I hardly knew even existed, in spite of having spent much of the previous decades in pain myself.
I carried on training with George, taking two trips across the Boston to attend his residential courses and finally, after completing a mentorship programme, became the UK’s first Kinder Institute Registered Life Planner in 2006. (Tina Weeks of Serenity Financial Planning, who took over my Planning for Life Clients this year, was the UK’s first female Kinder Institute Registered Life Planner.)
I redesigned my existing financial planning business as a financial life planning business called Planning for Life. I developed a completely new portfolio of processes and systems Using Kinder’s EVOKE methodology (Exploration, Vision, Obstacles, Knowledge, Execution) to deliver life planning in the Kinder mould. This also had an impact on the financial advice I gave, which became simpler and more aligned to the clients’ needs (which I now understood as deeply as they themselves, if not more so).
Over the years I have adapted Kinder’s EVOKE methodology into my own, called FUTURE. And whilst I move away from financial advice, the financial life planning concept that Kinder introduced to me in 2004 still sits at the heart of my life and financial coaching practice.