Entrepreneur aims to make financial planning a fun game
February 2, 2018
While establishing his career working for wealth management and financial advisory firms, Justin Boucher found the approach to financial planning was often nonexistent or antiquated.
He felt firms bombarded clients with charts, graphs and booklets overrun with jargon that made financial planning daunting and even confusing.
So when Boucher opened his own independent financial planning startup in 2017, Justin Boucher Advisory Services in Reno, he wanted to find a way to better serve his clients.
"I saw how firms would develop these big, 10-page booklets and show a client what their cash flow looks like," Boucher said. "I wanted to come up with an idea that clients could wrap their heads around and encourage them to do more."
Working out in the gym one day, he found inspiration from his Apple Watch. The device has a feature that lights up and gives badges when a person reaches a workout goal. After some thought, he figured he could apply some of the same principles to financial planning.
So Boucher came up with 12 basic financial goals or "action items" that can be interchangeable depending on the client and their financial situation. Each goal is given a timeline to complete and Boucher works with the client to update the plan every six months.
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"Every financial plan is different and set specific goals for them. I don't put more than six action items at a time," he said. "Some people are looking to buy a home. For others buying a home doesn't make sense for them right now. Younger clients usually are thinking about credit card debt management or student loans repayments."
Some of the list of goals he formulated:
Completing first financial plan
Being properly insured
Setting up beneficiaries
Paying off student loans
Opening and fully funding a trust
Buying first home
Paying off mortgage
Paying off all of credit card debt
Establishing an emergency fund
Paying off all auto loans
Boucher said his clients have a wide age range from those in their 20s all the way to the 80s, although he has been marketing to clients mostly in their 20s to their 40s.
Right now the program is available on a computer program developed by Boucher. Eventually he wants to make it available for smartphones and other tech devices, but that's down the road.
The program notifies a client on their computer when they reach a goal. At some point, Boucher would like to make it where it can be more interactive or in real time, like being connected to a client's bank account that instantly gives them notification when they reach a savings goal.
"Eventually I want to get to the point where it can ping them on their phone when they complete an action item, but right now we just review things every six months," he said.
Along with the badge system, Boucher constantly updates and reviews retirement projections for each client, based on reaching individual goals.
Boucher's methodology is an example of how some financial planners are finding simple, yet fun ways to help clients plan their financial future.
Pam Hopman, founder and president of The Hopman Group, a financial planning firm based in Tucson, Ariz., also has tried to put the fun in financial planning. Hopman is the author of the Amazon bestselling book, "WEALTH AMPLIFIED!: A Five Step Guide for the Professional Woman to Make More Money Keep More Money and Love Your Life."
"It's hard for a lot of people to follow rules of getting out of debt and saving for the future," Hopman said in a phone interview with NNBW. "Part of the art of financial planning is understanding the personalities of your clients and helping them set financial goals."
Hopman added that the concepts such as getting out of debt and saving for the future is overwhelming at times.
"I think you have to take it one step at a time," she added.
She produced an entry to a blog on The Hopman Group website: "7 Tips to Make Financial Planning Fun In 2018."
Create An Inspiration Board: Write down goals about what to achieve in financial planning. Those goals could be setting up for early retirement, opening a business or buying a house.
Have a Positive Attitude: It is important to have an open mind in financial planning.
Don't Deny Yourself Small Pleasures: Don't deny that java from Starbucks every morning, thinking it will go to savings. Just find other means to save money.
Celebrate Small Goals and Milestones: Measure successes in saving and investments. If one brings lunch from home every day for a week, go out for a nice lunch one day.
Make It A Game: Compete against yourself, a friend or a family member. A goal would be to cut food expenditures by say $50 or cut it by another $20 the next week. Compare investments with a friend or family member.
Give Yourself Visual Reminders: This can come in many forms, but one is taping photos of investment goals to credit and debit cards as a reminder not to use cards for impulse buys.
Include Pocket Money In Your Budget: Set aside some money for pleasures such as dining out or a day at the spa. Setting aside that extra money instead of dipping into other accounts can give a person the means to reach financial goals faster.
Hopman also lauded Boucher for "gamifying" the financial planning process.
"The simpler you can make it for people the better. I think (Boucher's) gamification of financial planning process is a fabulous idea. The more plnning we have in mind, the more we can achieve our financial goals."