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Happy and healthy

Happiness is a primary driver for most clients - but what does it really mean in financial goal-setting terms?

Reaching a state of happiness is a life goal for most of us, and feeling empowered and in control is central to being happy.  Canada Life’s Long Term Close Up campaign explores the fundamental role that goals play in our thinking and planning. Having increasingly open conversations with clients about their goals, dreams and aspirations is the key to unlocking enduring client/ adviser partnerships.

Canada Life’s research, which combines insights from a dedicated online community and industry experts with an online survey of 3,000+ consumers, found that only 16% of people aged 41-55 share their life goals with advisers.

Attitudes towards money

Complex feelings can be bound up in attitudes to money. Avoiding evoking feelings of shame, inadequacy or foolishness in your clients will help to shape meaningful and enduring conversations. Asking questions which help evoke feelings of support and help, rather than uncovering weaknesses or shortfalls in their plans, will help to drive a more emotionally engaging approach to financial planning.

Dr Simon Moore who has partnered with Canada Life comments “We often set very functional goals, but we need to spend more time analysing the emotions that are driving them. For example; What is your client’s main driver? Is it about feeling ‘happy’, in control or being financially secure to try new things? The next question would then be what are the barriers to achieving these goals?

Happy and content the most important goal

More than two thirds (67%) of Canada life survey respondents claimed that ‘being happy and content’ was their primary life goal, followed by ‘being in good physical and/ or mental health’ (58%) and ‘having a good retirement’ (53%).

The science of happiness suggests that there are short and long-term components to being happy:

  1. The immediate experience of pleasure, positive impact and mood.
  2. A longer-term sense of purpose, life satisfaction and self-actualisation.

Pleasure might come in the form of the wonderful holidays you have imagined after retirement, while life satisfaction might be about being able to live well and to provide for your grandchildren.  Tensions often emerge between immediate pleasure versus purpose and so deeper exploration into emotional goals and how they trade off with each other will help people to achieve better outcomes.

We are all living through unprecedented times of change where life events are increasingly shifting our goals and our perceptions of what happiness means. These complex triggers provide advisers with an opportunity to encourage openness, as well as helping clients to look at their goals in different ways.

While adviser/ client engagements will typically begin with a conversation around goals and a roadmap to achievement, it is imperative that this relationship continues as clients start to interrogate their own priorities and unlock a process of reflection which demands continual engagement.

Emotional goals may be difficult to surface initially, but an enduring relationship will provide advisers with a deepening understanding of the evolving richness of clients dreams and desires for future happiness. While these are rarely the stories told in a financial planning exercise, their powerful emotional drivers are where advisers can unlock the real needs of their clients. 

The Canada Life Long-Term Close Up campaign will continue to explore key themes, trends and psychological biases that influence long-term thinking throughout 2022.

Go back to long term close up