Holistic Financial Planning the shepard FINANCIAL Way

Many wealth management firms are embracing holistic financial planning which is a trend based on improved client relationships and a more client-centered approach to planning & wealth management. This is good news! It’s meant to better serve individual clients and their families in a long-term way, but to us “holistic financial planning” has a much deeper meaning. In the mainstream, holistic financial planning is still very much about an advisor’s performance, using existing products & services to provide a broader strategy, and using updated technologies to report across varied investment accounts. It’s still about what the advisor is doing, not who the clients are and how they naturally understand money. Without that crucial understanding, attempting “holistic financial planning” is like trying to paint a house with one arm tied behind your back.

Here’s what we know: every single person is born with a specific understanding of life. We’ve called this the 7 Financial Natures because that’s how this pertains to our business. You have a set of financial skills, an innate understanding of how money functions, how to get it, how to use it, how to value it, and how to trade it. Money and finance do not need to be upsetting, threatening, judging, confounding, or immobilizing. Money and finance can be supportive, safe, exciting, uplifting, and positive. This is the perspective from which we operate, and this is what we want all clients to understand- a perspective shift is necessary to evolve with your money. It usually means letting go of what you think you know about yourself and money so that you can learn new ways to relate to it, interact with it, build wealth, prepare for the future, exist in partnership with your finances, and grow as a person as your money supports the life you want.

To us, holistic financial planning doesn’t begin with what we can do for you. It begins with your financial nature. There are always a number of ways to reach a goal, but your plan has to respect your nature. For example, a Taker might need convincing to accept that they are not broke. Spenders often need some help reframing their expenses and feeling good about that. Earners would likely love to know about unearned income so they can relax a bit. Telling a Saver the only way to prepare for the future is to invest every penny from their savings would likely result in a panic attack and losing a client. Investors often need some guidance in terms of investing- they’ll want to do it themselves. Levers can get into trouble by trying to make their lives less expensive. Givers are going to need some support to seize an opportunity like a financial gift.

Without knowing what a client’s nature is, there is no way to completely tailor advice and create a strategy that supports them the way they need. Our focus is first on a client’s nature, how they need to receive information, and what role time plays in rolling out a considered plan. Plans can include conventional products & services but knowing when and how to implement specific products is fully informed by each individual client. It’s not that we’re saying what other advisors do is wrong. It’s that we believe there is a way to be of greater service and we’re dedicated to taking our practice to a higher level.

Retirement Planning vs. Life Planning

People do not retire. They are retired by others. ~Duke Ellington

Retirement is usually held up as something we all must prepare, plan and save for because it’s the ultimate, natural end-game. However, there is nothing natural about it. In fact, the concept of leaving the workforce at a certain later age and having the money to support oneself was originally a socialist idea! It was adopted by the United States government in the early 20th century as a means to force older workers out of the workforce so there would be room for younger workers. The government then sold the idea to all Americans, branding it as the reward for decades of hard work which spawned many new industries and the rise of Florida as the go-to retirement destination. Though we may think of this as completely normal, it’s only been a popular model for a couple of generations. (The New York Times has this great overview of the history of retirement.)

We’re not fans of the idea of retirement or the notion of retirement planning. It suggests the end of life as you know it or the end of life, period. It’s off in the future, some idealized “some day.” If the picture of that “some day” isn’t your own, or if you don’t find value in delayed gratification, retirement planning may be stressful, painful, or impossible. Some people give up and give in to the pitfalls and distortions of their natures, trapped by self-imposed ceilings. Many people never become aware of living like this, but others do. Each scenario is equally tragic.

We favor the idea of life planning which includes the goal of financial independence plus room to keep living and growing beyond any one financial level, life stage, or age limit set by legislators. Life planning is in the present. It’s a process powered by your intrinsic motivation rather than discipline, which is a lot more comfortable. Our approach begins at the core of who you are rather than a foundation of external factors. Life planning is about being fully alive, growing and developing, and evolving with your money.

Our goal is to help you create and practice a financial strategy that looks out for all your needs, wants, goals, and aspirations. That starts right now and keeps a healthy eye on the future. That’s using your money to support your life as it unfolds, expands, and evolves.

Age in unimportant. Good planning is about what we’re being called to do now and getting on with it.

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial. No strategy or process assures success or guarantees against losses.

7 Reasons We Speak Financial Truth


The self-help industry, which includes the personal finance sub genre, is an $11 billion machine; that’s $11 billion annually. This would suggest that despite the sea of gurus offering up their best advice there is something missing.

We believe the crucial element they miss is you, so we’re writing a book about it. Here is why we’re writing it:

1. Gurus Fail. Every single person is born with a certain nature which shapes perspective, experience, beliefs, and behavior. The experts, no matter their area of expertise, also have a nature which is the foundation for their advice. If your nature isn’t the same their advice likely won’t work for you, or their advice may get you through one issue or crisis but doesn’t help when the next crisis comes along. You’re stuck living life from one issue to the next, seeking wisdom from limited sources over and over again. (Maybe that’s why people spend so much on self-help books?)

2. Patterns Repeat. Nothing is ever really new- look at the fashion world! Or look at this previous post about the 7 year cycles in finance. Recognizing your personal patterns and the patterns present in all areas of life empowers you to nurture those that benefit you and break & release the ones that don’t. Decisions are easier to make, opportunities easier to recognize. Approaching your finances, or anything, as if the current context exists in a vacuum can be disastrous, just ask people who heavily invested in the tech bubble.

3. Efficiency Addiction. Look around and notice all the busy people, the companies whose employees are expected to do more with less time & compensation, automizing that which used to be human interaction, and the pervasive expectation that things get done faster so that more can get done. Our culture is addicted to efficiency: a society so busy it tries to meet the human need for nutrition with frozen dinners and fast food, for example, and it’s making us sick and tired on both the public and individual levels.

4. Saving Yourself. There is no cavalry; they’re off somewhere being busy! And the gurus are short-sighted though well-intentioned. In a way you need to be your own superhero, and fortunately that’s not only possible, it’s intentional. You see, you have a specific nature which has a positive side and a negative side. The self-help/personal finance gurus have no way of knowing who you are, in fact many most likely don’t know their own natures, why they keep saying the same things, and debating each other over who is right. (Hint: they’re all right- for themselves.) We’ve developed a tool to find your nature; you can access it here.

5. Creating Value. You’ve probably heard or seen inspirational quotes telling you something about being able to use your attitude to create a good life- but not telling you how. Well, you can create more of what you love, more of what you want but without knowing how you’ll likely stay in a rut. Our book is being written to show you how. (This is also the foundation for our financial advisory, management, and planning business.)

6. Not Alone. Humans are social creatures; we don’t do well when totally alone. Yet we’re socialized to believe that “if it is to be, it is up to me,” so we keep on buying the self-help books and try to transform our lives alone. Without the help & support of others you can’t reach your highest level. And if your motivation for reaching a higher level is all about you rather than about you as part of a social system, (part of a team, family, community, etc.), you will end up with a corrupted version of your higher self.

7. Fulfill Your Next Vision. Instead of living life as a series of crises, ups & downs, one after another, we suggest turning those ups & downs on the side. Now they’re lefts & rights, the flow of life as a series of intentional, informed choices. And instead of an ultimate vision that can seem unattainable, we focus on your next vision, then the next and the next. And they add up over time.

Have you been so let down by your gurus that you’ve accepted a life that is less than you want it to be? Do you have a next vision for your money? For your relationships? For your health? Time management?

This is why we’re writing this book.

Know yourself, know what you want, find the right coach, evolve with your money!


Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advise or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

No strategy or process assures success or guarantees against losses.