It Takes a Village

Looking at all angles of a wealthy client’s finances is undoubtedly important; one group is proposing tackling all aspects of a client's life to achieve the best outcomes.    

In a paper written for the Association for Integrative Financial and Life Planning (AIFLP) and the Life Planning Network, Charles Yanikoski discusses the reasons why an integrated advising approach for affluent clients (and ultimately, any client) makes sense.

“Although money may be what most interests financial firms and advisers, for most people, money connects in ways both obvious and subtle to every other aspect of their lives,” Yanikoski writes.

Specifically, Yanikoski wants to address older Americans approaching retirement – people in their 50s and 60s, he tells PLANADVISER. Not only are the financial considerations of retirement complicated, but Yanikoski believes that it’s the most complicated stage of life. Younger people have to deal with getting married, buying a house, having kids and sending them to college – and while these milestones can be difficult to manage, there is some level of predictability to them, he says. “Planning for retirement is planning for what might happen,” he says, and this can be very difficult to grasp.

The concept of integrated advising is to bring together various professionals working with one client for a collaborative effort. This may include a psychotherapist, a priest, a nutritionist, or a physical trainer, to name a few. The idea is not just to refer clients to one another, Yanikoski says, but to work as a team; discuss issues the client is facing, and help them prepare for a secure and fulfilling retirement.

Yanikoski writes: “Those of us whose expertise lies primarily in the financial realm know from experience that the underlying causes of many financial problems are not money itself, but deep-seated attitudes, fears, expectations, and self-image issues that are beyond the scope of a most advisers’ competence…. The traditional approach to financial advice focuses on numbers and ignores these complications. The client’s questions are answered, but their problems remain.”

The integrated advising approach is still mostly theoretical, but Yanikoski himself will be taking the first steps to using this approach this summer. His own background is varied: he studied Government at Harvard, Divinity at the University of Chicago, worked for an insurance company for 18 years, gravitated to financial software and began his own company in 1999. Now he is head of consulting services for Still River Retirement and President of its consumer subsidiary, RetirementWORKS. He is currently in the process of becoming a registered investment adviser (RIA) and will soon open his own financial advisory firm, which will offer support for both the financial and non-financial aspects of retirement. Using his affiliation with AIFLP and the Life Planning Network, his goal is to eventually partner with other professionals and use an integrated advising approach.

Yanikoski’s paper, “Integrative Advising: The Newest Approach to Serving Affluent Clients,” is available here.