Some of the best insights I’ve had about financial planning have come from unexpected places in my mind.
Like… childhood cartoons.
Here’s what I mean:
One of my favorite Tee Vee shows as a child was the Japanese anime cartoon, Voltron.
If you’ve never seen it, Voltron was a larger-than-life robot that fought the classic fight against the forces of evil. It was actually a combination of several smaller robot lions that came together to form a humanoid robot.
Every episode the heroes tried to beat the bad guys using the individual robot lions.
They always failed. Why? Well…because individually those lions were tough but not tough enough. They always needed to combine forces, form Voltron, and whoop arse with that blazing sword.
Individually, they were strong. But, their unintegrated attacks always fell short. Using an integrated approach, they always won.
A running theme in the show was that teamwork makes the dream work. But… I think really there’s a deeper, even if unintended, lesson in there about the value of integrated work as opposed to disintegrated or unintegrated work.
In that same vein, it’s a mistake common in financial planning these days. There is a lot of value in specialization — heck, I specialize in life insurance.
But, it is designed to be integrated into a larger financial plan. And, in some cases, it is the plan, and it’s designed to function differently at different stages of a policyholder’s life.
Lots of financial planners out there — and yes a lot of life insurance agents — will sell you investments…insurance…a paper and ink plan…
…but that’s all they do. Sell you stuff. It’s like their plans are nothing more than a bunch of products, unintegrated or only loosely integrated. There is no bigger picture. For example, a common planning strategy in financial planning is to show you (the client) how to accumulate a massive amount of savings. But, what do you do once you reach your destination? There’s no real plan for that. It’s sort of an afterthought if there is a retirement income plan. When I was first starting out in this business, it’s something I picked up on right away.
I remember asking my boss why we didn’t do “obvious” stuff like help people do a better job budgeting or helping them better manage spending, or plan out a retirement income once they retired. His response? “They can figure that out on their own.”
Financial products are good and all…but alone they mean nothing.
If you want to form Voltron, you need full integration.