Over the last 18+ years I've spoken to a huge cross-section of the international community, from partners at law firms to doctors, business owners to engineers.
Of course, not all speak "finance".
They all brought varying degrees of existing knowledge and experience to the table.
But most had huge gaps in their financial understanding. They were outside their comfort zones and lacked the knowledge that would take them to financial prosperity.
A powerful way to connect, was to start the conversation with something familiar to them - something from their world they were comfortable with.
Say you work in aviation.
You'll be familiar with the concept of a flight plan.
On this plan, is all the information needed - the starting point, the destination airport, proposed route, the number of passengers, the fuel you’ll need, hazards to consider, weather, and contingency plans.
A financial plan is no different.
You need to know where you’re starting from, where you'd like to get to, over what time, how much savings you’re going to need, and some contingency planning in case it doesn’t work out exactly as anticipated.
A good financial planner takes the time to understand your desired destination and put together the plan to give you the highest probability of getting there.
Of course, you can plan the best flight ever, but the plane isn’t going anywhere unless you have enough fuel to get you there and allow you to deal with unexpected emergencies along the way.
You have to put enough fuel in the tank and in a financial context, that’s your commitment to saving and investing regularly.
What about when the stock market crashes?
Again, the world of aviation gives us another great analogy.
About 40% of the general population reports some fear of flying. Turbulence confirms an aerophobic's worst fears but for a pilot, it's a normal part of flying.
Most of the time, you aren’t really dropping much, it’s just the sensation that makes it feel like you are. The key is, to stay in your seat. Because the people who are going to get hurt, or who are going to hurt others, are going to be the ones who get out.
This is also a typical investing journey.
Volatility happens along the way and what you need is a reassuring voice from your pilot:
“This is your Captain speaking; just a little turbulence folks, things could be a little bumpy for a while, so please stay in your seats while the seatbelt signs are on.”
Or your financial planner:
“Hi John, it's Sam. The markets have taken a dip and things could be a little bumpy for a while. But, over the long term, the stock market remains undefeated and you've planned for this, so there's no action you need to take. Sit tight.”
So, in simple terms; have a plan, put fuel in the tank and don’t worry about turbulence because it’s all part of the journey.
It doesn't matter if you aren't in aviation.
You need to work with someone who understands the importance of regular communication and calm reassurance.
Just as I wouldn’t expect to fly myself on holiday, you shouldn’t expect to tackle this alone. A good planner will help you get where you want to go.