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The Right Answers to the Wrong Questions

6 May 2023

So, here’s a question for all you FINANCIAL PLANNERS…

Your client asks you…’What’s the best way to access my pension tax efficiently at age 65 if I am a higher rate tax-payer, close to the lifetime allowance and need half as a lump sum and half as an income?’

Now, if I posted this in one of the various financial adviser Facebook groups, I’d get an exciting plethora of answers from many well-meaning advisers.

And there’s a good possibility that your technical ‘adviser mind’ is racing to formulate the outline of a withdrawal strategy.

Well, when I hear this kind of question, my mind also races with the exciting possibilities.

You might be thinking that we should be talking about annuities or drawdown of UFPLS but actually, that’s the last thing on my mind.

I’m interested in the BIG QUESTION!

Which, for me, is…

‘Why age 65?’

Was that what you focused on?

Think about it.

‘Why not 64?’

‘Or 66?’

‘Or 62.5?’

‘Or today?’

Why, out of all the days in this person’s life, have they chosen the day of their 65th birthday?

And isn’t it weird that the day just happens to fall on a birthday? Surely the last thing anyone wants to do on their birthday is deal with financial advice matters.

Even if we narrow it down to the ages 60–70, that is 3,650 days to choose from.

And from all of those, they chose that specific day.

So what is the relevance of that day for them?

They haven’t coincidentally chosen 65; it’s been fed to their subconscious from somewhere else. Maybe implicitly, maybe explicitly, but they didn’t come up with it through careful analysis of their personalised lifestyle financial plan.

Which means they’ve chosen a generic age.

Which signals to you that their plan is generic.

And so any technical answer you give about annuities and drawdown is by default – wrong.

In fact, any answer you give at all is wrong.

Because it’s the answer to the wrong question.

And you don’t know the right question.

So my first response is always to challenge the question, because that’s where the true answer really lies.

If we ask the question ‘Why 65’ and then follow the conversation up valley and down dale in their emotional and subconscious mind – you will uncover a story that is far more fascinating than annuities vs drawdown vs UFPLS.

You will find all the emotional triggers, blockages, obstacles, and desires that have tied their minds up in such knots that it is paralysed to the extent where they are happy to take a generic answer to a generic question that bears no relation to what they actually want for THEIR life and lifestyle.

And if you can show them that, you have a client for life.

Because digging to the right question is more valuable than giving the right answer to the wrong question. – Software, Training & Business Services for Financial Planners.


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