Why I Started Fun Financial, Part One
Updated: Sep 30
Part One: Why Financial Planning Shouldn’t Feel Like Going To The Dentist
So, why did I decide to start my own financial planning business during the global chaos of the pandemic of 2020? And why did I want to call the company Fun Financial?
Or perhaps the question you were interested in was why start your own firm opposed to work under someone else again? Isn’t this a terrible time to be starting your own business?
Having the good fortune to work under some of the best financial planners in the Northeast during the last six years, I’ve seen up close and personal how multiple business owners run their firms and how they approach financial planning. While I’ve learned a huge amount and am grateful for the training and education, I still haven’t found the financial planning experience I would want to have as a client being offered. Ultimately, I decided that if I cared so much about offering that client experience, then it was up to me to provide it.
One of our mottos at Fun Financial is, “You be you. We’ll help you get to where you want to go,” because we want you to be yourself without judgement about “good” or “bad” financial behaviors. When you make an appointment with a planner, you are seeking help. Too often I’ve seen financial planners use this opportunity to turn client appointments into a mock classroom setting, with a “teacher” presenting the lesson and the client assigned “homework” afterwards. I’m here to listen, not lecture. I’m here to help, not assign and grade your homework.
I’ve also seen planners use their expertise as a weapon to intimidate their clients, where “illustrating your value” often becomes a proxy for “intimidate the client with what you know and what they don’t.” I’m here to encourage your progress, not make you feel foolish or judge you based on your earning capacity and how much you’ve been able to save in the past. You’ve come for help, and we are here to help you.
We also use the motto, “Financial planning should feel like going on vacation, not like going to the dentist,” to illustrate what we do and the feeling we want our clients to walk away with after a meeting. While I by no means intend to rip on the dental profession (they provide a valuable health service and going to the dentist is good for you!), I use the analogy to illustrate what I don’t like when I’m sitting in the chair as a client and how I want Fun Financial to be different than how other firms are approaching financial planning. For example:
1. It hurts. People scraping stuff out of your mouth can be really painful, especially when it is done shoddily, leading people to avoid going to the dentist and ignoring their dental health altogether. I see the same thing in people’s finances all the time, where we’ve avoided what causes us pain and ignored out best interests in favor of self-protection, aka avoidance.
2. It is guilt-ridden. “Floss more. Brush more.” “Spend less. Save more.” Fun, right? I feel so rewarded for doing something good for myself!
If a dentist told me, “Your teeth are in great shape. We recommend skipping your next cleaning to save you money,” I would be shocked. Dentists make money by providing dental services. Financial advisors can often operate along the same narrow band of encouragement in order to keep client’s dependent on their advice.
3. They don’t listen. (Hearing you say, “Ahhhhh,” doesn’t count.) I promise I will never put a tongue depressor in your mouth and start a conversation with you.
4. It is unfair. One person pays out of pocket and someone else has the entire bill covered by their insurance? At least with financial planning, the fees you pay are a small percentage of the money you have available to work for you and aren’t dependent on having a golden ticket from an employer.
(Also, why is it that the people with the highest paying jobs, who can afford to pay the health insurance, are usually the ones with the most generous health packages?)
5. The service model isn’t appropriate for financial planning. I hate having to see three different people before I see the dentist, from the receptionist who sells me on the dental plan every time that I visit (two free cleanings for only $500 a year, wow!), to the dental assistant who is watching TV in the office while he cleans my teeth, to the other dental assistant who takes my X-rays, to finally seeing the dentist who says, “Good to see you. Here’s another assistant who will be finishing your dental work.”
This service model is how the financial planning profession scales its advisor resources for their own profit needs. Did anyone ever ask if this is how you like to be served, anonymously in an assembly line? I’ve personally never appreciated being serviced by all these different people and having just a brief chat with the expert and object to this as a financial planning service model. The service should be about you, the client, right?
6. We tend to seek help only when we are in trouble. Much like making the dentist appointment when our tooth aches, we tend to make the financial appointment only when we are in pain. How different would financial planning be if it wasn’t motivated by fear and stress? What if you approached financial planning not as something you want to actively avoid but as something enjoyable that you like doing?