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We Need To Talk About Shortfalls

9 May 2024

FINANCIAL PLANNERS – It’s common for us to overlook the fact that not all problems need solving.

I mean, it’s in our DNA to solve problems. It’s just what we do.

And more importantly, it’s what our clients (and the regulator) expect us to do.

Let’s take an example we often come across in our cashflow modelling: the dreaded shortfall.

You’ve helped your client visualise and articulate their ideal life and lifestyle and quantify any costs.

You’ve researched all their current assets and liabilities, plotted it all in your doozy software and then dang….it shows that they’re going to run out of money before they die.

And the Paraplanner in you opens an eager eye and starts leaping to solutions….

  • Can we cut some costs in an earlier life phase?
  • What if we downsize the main house?
  • Equity Release?
  • Have we used all the available tax allowances?

The ideas just come tumbling out of our minds and with one stroke of Paraplanning genius (or maybe a combination of minor efficiencies), we make the shortfall go away.

The problem is fixed – we are awesome!


Did it actually need fixing?

If you’re running a hotel and you realise that you’ve accidentally booked 5% more rooms than you have available for a year from now, what’s your next move?

  • Immediately start ringing customers and cancelling bookings?
  • Offer clients free accommodation if they’ll switch to another night?
  • Wait and see, as you know your natural cancellation rate is 10%, so it’s likely to fix itself long before it becomes an immediate issue?

You’d do the 3rd one right?

Because it’s a problem that doesn’t need fixing – yet.

And it’s more than likely to resolve itself before it becomes an immediate issue.

A modest shortfall on a client’s plan in 30 years’ time is also likely to resolve itself – no plan survives contact with the ground anyway.

But the medicine you might prescribe could end up causing more harm than the original problem, especially if you consider how likely it is to happen.

That’s why, even with all the fancy technology like MRIs and full-body scans available today, healthcare professionals are careful not to recommend too much screening.


Because although you are going to die OF something, you will also die WITH a hundred other things.

Getting a scan that reveals potential health issues can lead to anxiety and unnecessary medication, which may outweigh the benefits of possible prevention.

Worrying for 30 years about something that has a 2% chance of killing you isn’t a good deal.

‘A pound of worry for an ounce of life’ as my Nana used to say.

Which brings me back to cashflow modelling and finding solutions!

The reason we like to find solutions is because that’s what the client expects us to do, and they reward us with thanks and admiration.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

But we’ve made ourselves feel better at the expense of their wellbeing.

It was harder for us, but much more helpful to them, to explain why you are NOT going to solve the problem.

Because if you can show that you aren’t worried about it, they won’t be worried about it either.

And there you go; you’ve fixed a problem that didn’t need fixing with an action that didn’t need actioning.

Sometimes, doing nothing is the answer – we just need the courage to say so. – Software, Training & Business Services for Financial Planners


  • End-to-End Lifestyle Financial Planning Process & Software
  • Full Financial Planner Back Office System
  • Coaching for Financial Planners


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