Advising the goal-less?

Some clients appear to be goal-less.

Their response to questions from advisers about their goals or future returns a form of “I’m fine thanks very much for asking” or “I’m quite happy where I am at present”.

Advisers are often too stumped by such responses and timidly drop their goal conversations quickly returning to more comfortable technical subjects. There are, however, a minority of advisers who view a ‘goal-less’ response as one might view a Rubix cube or cryptic crossword clue.

Some affluent clients have heard enough advisers trying to start a meeting with a goal conversation as a sign to stop the ‘sales approach’ and focus on the issues they are interested in such as investment performance. They have enough money to do almost anything they want to, so the question of where they want to holiday next is not something they need to discuss with an adviser. They holiday wherever they want, whenever they want.

Other affluent clients however may not have a goal requiring money but have goals requiring advice or planning. Their goals are more focused on how to preserve, grow, distribute and protect their wealth for reasons and outcomes significant to them.

Others clients are goal-less for other reasons.

Some have become comfortable with being goal-less.  It’s an appealing label for them and like the colour of their eyes, believe that’s just the way they are – unchangeable.

Other clients believe they are too old for goals, or don’t have enough money for goals, or don’t have enough time for goals. For whatever reason certain people regard the goal setting conversations as unnecessary.

Tough Paths

Some people don’t have goals, because the path toward their goal requires steps they are not willing to undertake.

Whether difficult conversations or perceived impact on significant others or insecurity and uncertainty involved, the steps required are just too hard compared to the comfort of remaining goal-less. They are not ready and may never be willing to undertake the change and commitment beyond comfort zones to change habits or address an issue that they do not wish to acknowledge.

Hidden Goals

Some people have needed but hidden goals.

For their own reasons, some clients can’t grasp what their adviser reliably predicts will become their default goal without change – almost an own goal. Similar to a doctor attending to patients who refuse or cannot acknowledge the need for a healthier goal, as much as advisers can urge for different steps there will always be wasted financial goals some clients ignore.

Other people genuinely believe they don’t have goals.

For now.

Life has no favourites. We don’t know the value of something until we lose it.

Health will change, fortunes will change, misadventures will occur, accidents happen, markets will crash, regulations will change and loved ones or those significant in our financial lives will have both positive and negative impacts on our lives.

Though some clients are tainted by goals conversations from past advisers whose real intent was less about goals and more about the sale of products, in their genuine form, goal conversations are crucial to understand and forge each client’s best interests.

No on is goals-less. But many are not ready to talk about them.

Talking about topics which client’s are not ready to talk about, is a significant skill-set needed for future advisers.

What do you reckon?




This is an extract from Jim Stackpool’s forth-coming book – What Price Value – due for release Spring 2021 – Click here for more details



For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group coaches, trains and is building a growing group of advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, priced on value. The community of advisory firms aligns with Australia’s highest and only ACCC/IP Australia Certification Mark standard of comprehensive, unconflicted advice – Certainty Advice. He has authored three books regarding financial advisory firms and is due to release his fourth book mid this year – What Price Value.

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