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The right question will give the answer

Marlene Outrim

Marlene Outrim

I was driving along listening to the radio when Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2 came on – not something I pay much attention to. Usually, I want something to wash over me, so I can concentrate on the road. 

This time, the commentator was Sheridan Voysey, a writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. Again, not someone who I would normally listen to and someone, I have to admit, I had never heard of until that moment.

However, his comments really made me think about the questions we ask our clients when we are trying to get them to determine their objectives.

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It is not something that is usually uppermost in their minds when clients come to us, so it takes some skill to get them to talk along these lines.

There are people like Dan Sullivan, the life coach, who believes that to set yourself apart you need to ask the right question: “If we were having this discussion X years from now, looking back, what needs to have happened for you to feel happy about your progress?”

He then encourages them to consider what opportunities, obstacles or threats they may encounter.

Mr Sullivan calls this the ‘R’ question, for ‘relationship’.

Financial life planner, George Kinder suggests three searching questions, which get people closer and closer to their life’s meaning, but some advisers say they feel uncomfortable with these.

My Voysey went on to say you should follow your dreams, but that not everyone is a dreamer, so it can be hard for them to dwell on such a subject. How do you work out what matters most in your life?

What is the one question that would get people thinking more deeply? Mr Voysey believes it is: “What would you regret not doing by the end of your life?” Not so different then from Mr Sullivan and Mr Kinder.

I always ask this at a discovery meeting as I am keen to know where a person wants to go in life, so I can help them get there.

But have you asked yourself the same kind of question and started planning that journey? Why should we not ask the question of ourselves?

Marlene Outrim is managing director of Uniq Family Wealth