We took a deep dive into what the “E” in the EVOKE® process means in a recent blog. For us, this isn’t just a catchy acronym. EVOKE is both the foundation and the tactical process steps we take to get you to an evolved plan – and it’s how you discover the motivation to create your best life
In this piece, we get into “V” and how you uncover the vision that will guide you. And if you’re thinking it’s things like retirement or buying a second home – nope. It’s a lot more personal and freeing than that. Please read on.
A Brief Explanation of Financial Life Planning
EVOKE® Financial Life Planning, in the words of Michael Kitces, is “financial planning done right.” Money has enormous power over every aspect of our lives, and financial planning should be a means for individuals to take back some control. That’s not really how it works in practice, and life planning is the solution to that.
It takes the fiduciary standard as the starting point and puts the investor and the advisor even more firmly on the same side of the table. Because creating a financial plan means acting across almost all aspects of life, financial advisors are uniquely positioned to help clients understand what they want and then use the levers of holistic financial planning to obtain it.
The Vision of Your Best Life
When asked about financial goals, most people will talk about things like retirement – things in the future that you need to save up money for, and then invest for, and then do tax-planning for. That’s not a vision. That’s a construct imposed by an industry that makes money off every step of that process.
That’s why life planning is only done correctly by fiduciaries who are also fee-only. Discovering – or uncovering – your vision for your life means getting much deeper than what your assets are now and extrapolating where you can get to in retirement or whatever your next step is. It’s not about your assets at all. It’s about what’s important to you at a level you probably haven’t thought at in years. The goal of the vision isn’t to create a sum of money, it’s to create freedom. And you define that freedom.
The Three Questions
At this point in the process, we’ve gone through the exploration meeting together, and built trust. That’s critical because the vision phase poses a series of three questions that are increasingly difficult to answer, specific, and have an acuity of perception that gets to your deepest heart’s desire. This phase poses three questions that will help you gradually feel your way through the limitations that built up until you get to the center of what you want your life to look like.
The questions are structured to remove financial shackles so you can begin to identify dreams and goals.
1. The first question removes financial shackles and encourages blue-sky thinking
2. The second question imposes a time limit so that you can narrow down what is important
3. The third question winnows out everything that isn’t important.
Together, the process feels transformative at the level you feel when you witness art – the sense of belonging and being singular at the same time. This leads into how life planning and financial planning dovetail and why they are successful. It’s motivation. The process creates the commitment to do what you need to do to continually incorporate your goals into your life.
The Bottom Line
EVOKE® Financial Life Planning shouldn’t just be a way to fit people into a giant, relentless profit machine. It should be about creating freedom at the level of your own desires, and then using the financial part in the service of the resulting plan to achieve them. In closing, allow us to quote a terrific song (Nat King Cole version – but there are many others): “V is very, very extraordinary”.