The Spiritual Father of Life Planning: An Interview with George Kinder
The Spiritual Father of Life Planning: An Interview with Georg Kinder- December 10, 2009
Note to readers:The MoneyCapsules®
Program has been inspired by the Life Planning work of George Kinder. I participated in his two day workshop that helped me clarify my own life goals.
MoneyCapsules® 7-provides a unique structure to develop this work.
Kinder ‘s words were so powerful that I’ve posted an edited version of the transcript of the interview below.
Jaimie Blackman – Welcome George, and thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.
George – My pleasure, Jaimie.
Jaimie Blackman – George, you’re a true Renaissance man. You’re a poet, author, educator, Buddhist meditator, teacher,
a Harvard graduate, and recipient of bronze medal CPA exam, placing third in the country. Still perhaps you are best recognized as the father of life planning, which you say is financial planning done right. Please give us a sense of the genesis of your methodology?
George – Before I respond to this question let me go back even further.
Money is meant to facilitate everything in our lives. Where does the tradition of financial advice come from? The genesis of financial advisory business goes back to the 19th century. Originally it was a consultative process. It first started from the life insurance industry, still, the intention was consultative. Over time, money conversations from financial advisors began focusing from the product side. Recently, an important shift happened, championed by the Certified Financial Planning community. As a result everything about money became more professional, when money goals were organized into different segments. (Author’s note: this is the MoneyCapsulesTM approach). Risk management, cash flow, estate planning. All the components were put together holistically. Bravo- for the beginning when financial advice was more consultative. Big thumbs down, when products came first, and advice came second.
Jaimie Blackman – If this is in the best interest of the client, why is there resistance?
George – There is no resistance. Where is the resistance? When we deliver life planning to clients, 9 out of 10 are enthusiastic. This is a 90% positive response rate using a client first approach, not a background product approach. The advice must be driven by the client needs, not the product. When the client comes first, she is excited about the process. Why is there resistance with the other 10%? Lehman Brothers, AIG,and Madoff to name a few. Investors ought to be stressful. I presented my perspective to the IFA conference in Spain which has 27,000 members. The headlines in Spain from this conference was “Madoff and Lehman Brothers, the best thing that could ever happen for the financial planning industry. We’ve been going in the wrong direction. It is time to make this right.
Jaimie Blackman – Give us some examples how the Kinder Life Planning process helps advisors uncover purpose and passion, and how that is translated into a financial plan that we can take action on.
George – Great question. How does it translate into the financial planning process? We have to gather the data, focus on the goals, do the spread sheet analysis, and create the financial plan. Then the advisor conducts the conversation, and delivers what the client requires. But an important difference is that more time has to happen at the beginning.
Jaimie Blackman – What are the necessary skills for the advisor to have to be a successful life planner?
George – There are three skill sets which are essential. To be able to listen, to be able to show genuine empathy, and to be able to inspire.
Jaimie Blackman – When will things change for the investors? When will the leap of faith occur?
George – “We have not earned the leap of faith, The regulators are trying to put the client first, but the regulators don’t really know what to do. There needs to be a way to distinguish, between the good guys and bad guys, we have to stand for the highest integrity. When this happens, there will be no better profession to have.
Jaimie Blackman – I recognized a lot of your thoughts in Jacob Needleman’s book, “Money and the Meaning of Life, which you mentioned in your two day workshop. Was Dr. Needleman an important influence?
George– Yes! His work was a real eye opener for me. And he is such a wonderful human being, and professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University, and the author of many books www.jacobneedleman.com.
Jaimie Blackman – In an interview I read, after you graduated Harvard, you said your instinct was to stay with your meditations and poetry, yet you opened up a tax practice initially. Shouldn’t we always follow our instincts?
George – This is a large question. There are many innocent beliefs about money. One philosophy says that we should follow our bliss, and money will follow. After a period of time, I felt alienated with my relationship with world: I was offering Tax services, and I was not connected to the spirit. The hardship was valuable; work now has become blissful by bringing it all together. Now I integrate my spiritual practice with my professional work. I found a community, (Financial Planners) that are wrestling with the same questions. Jaimie, There is a Kabalistic concept which states that the greatest distance is between the heart and the pocket. Thank you for shortening the distance.
To learn more about George Kinder, visit the Kinder Institute at: