Firing line  

How to give clients the best conversation of their lives

“[They] would classically aim at a retirement goal that was money-driven, not aspirationally driven,” he says.

He eventually split off from the think-tank and it became the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. 

Client first

“I began training people on how to actually work with clients so that the clients were put first and that meant the money came second,” he adds.

The Evoke approach to life planning is a five-phase process, although Mr Kinder notes it is more helpful to think of it as a three to five meeting process.

He sets out: “E is for exploration, V is for vision, O is for obstacles, K is for knowledge and the final E is for execution. 

“The E, V and O are a new way to do client diagnostics.”

It is a process that requires advisers to develop their listening skills, first and foremost. In the first meeting – the exploration or discovery meeting – he suggests “the client does 90 per cent of the talking”.

He notes: “At the end of that meeting the most common response I would get, the client would say, ‘if this wasn’t the best conversation I’ve ever had, it certainly was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had’.” 

But as Mr Kinder points out: “It wasn’t a conversation, they just talked. But they’d never been given that opportunity before.”

Testament to the popularity of Mr Kinder’s approach, his Evoke training courses take place all over the world, including the UK.

Mindfulness

So how does this approach, which has rather more in common with counselling and mindfulness than the traditional notion of how an adviser should interact with clients, fit alongside what is a highly regulated profession?

“The reason that it’s regulated is because of how I was describing the foundation of financial services as being largely product-oriented. 

“So when you have companies where the bottom line is delivered by the sales of products and by the profit margins on those products, the focus is clearly not on delivering this particular client into the life of their dreams,” he says.

However, he does have one criticism of the regulators: “They’re in lock-step with product companies. So that even though they’re protecting the consumer, they’re constantly responding to what it is that product companies do or don’t do well, and what advisers do or don’t do well around product companies.”

Ellie Duncan is features editor of Financial Adviser and FTAdviser

Watch FTAdviser's video interview with George Kinder here.