“What Does Holistic Financial Planning Mean, Exactly” uttered the woman sitting next to me in seat 8B.  She didn’t know planning was my profession—my knee jerk answer was, it differs for each person—as each person’s “holistic point” (I used my fingers to motion quotation marks) is differ from the next.  I explained my definition of the word holistic as encompassing the whole—and went on further to say that I felt that Holisitic Planning needing to incorporate all aspects of a person’s “Life Assets” (again using my hands).  AND, that one’s “holistic” point may or may not be reached depending on the depth of planning efforts.

Insurance (a hot button for me, professionally—toom any sell it for the commission and not the right reasons!) for example.  Covering it and simply funding it doesn’t get a box checked, in my mind, as planning Holisitically, simply because you addressed it, funded some insurance. Quite the contrary. Holistic Planning would mean that deep thought and discussions on the purpose  and function of a life insurance policy (just as one example) and exploring what, for example, being widowed at 41 looks like and what you/your spouse’s needs might be.  It means exploring more than your typical, “OK so you’re 50 so you need $1M of coverage—or your mortgage is $400k so you need a $500k policy” generic approach.

Again, reaching a client’s Holistic Point may never happen, however, because some clients aren’t willing to delve and explore as deep as I would always recommend them going.  Yes, it’s hard and awkward and potentially uncomfortable, but if we aren’t willing to do these exercises when it comes to our hard earned dollars, what will we put our efforts into?  Our physical appearance (which goes away, by the way)?  Our manicured lawns?  Take the time—you will never regret it–A limb I am willing to climb out on.

We work hard to make money. We get extra letters behind our names to make more money.  We research to invest our money or at least research WHO should be managing our money in order to make more money—lots of time goes into the whole money proposition, so falling short of achieving YOUR personal Holistic Point would be a perfect example of how to NOT make more money.

The insurance example is, of course, just one example covering the “whole” and delving deep to reach a holistic point.  A harder example may be a client’s budget.  In order to plan, presumably for retirement, for example, a planner must know how much the client wishes (or needs—another blog entirely!) to spend each year.  This area is the most holistic area I “play” in with clients.

We’ll spend hours in different exercises that explores where the client’s “wobble” is.  Wobble, as in imbalance.  If you consistently neglect the assets you have worked hard to garner in your lifetime—these Assets make up your “Whole Life”; Core Assets (health, family, religion), Financial Assets (house 401k, investments), Experience Assets (your degree, life lessons, your networks/who you know) and Contribution Assets (philanthropy, community service)–thanks, Lee Brower my coach on this topic and author of the Brower Quadrant—then you WILL have a “wobble.”  The exercises we engage in, to determine a client’s budget, involves identifying the “wobble” and funding activities to ensure that the four aspects, or tires of the car as Lee refers to them, are always balanced.  This is Holistic Planning.  Contrast this budget exercise with downloading a client’s Quickbooks expense file an plugging in what they spent in 2013 as their budget—or worse, taking that figure and simply saying where are we gonna cut back?

Where’s your Wobble?  Could your Wobble be that you don’t have a Holistic Financial Planner?