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It’s the million dollar question. “What do you do?” How do you answer it? It’s a time to shine or a time to whine, right? I’ve gotten used to highlighting what makes me different to new clients. I’ll tell them, “I’m a financial planner but I’m an orthodontist planner, as opposed to a dentist planner. “ Which always results in a puzzled look.

An explanation is in order.

A “dentist” financial planner will work on one area of your finances. Usually, that means managing assets, or providing insurance—product driven solutions. No real connectivity to your big picture and nothing really holistic in nature. If you’re not careful, you’ll just end up with a mouth full of fillings (or worse!)

An “orthodontist” financial planner works on the entire smile. Everything is taken into account. It’s a relationship driven model which is not product sale-centered. If you truly care about your clients, then you should want to help the holistically, treating the entire person, not just the sole pain-point.

I think this difference is why so many “financial planners” don’t ever really provide a financial plan for their clients. The only relationship built is centered around rate of return. Sure—that’s an important target, but a true retirement plan is built around an end goal. The plan must be set in motion to meet the end goal, regardless of actual investment returns!

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