Skip to Content
Investing Specialists

George Kinder: A Financial Plan Needs To Be a Life Plan

The father of the life planning movement discusses his famous 3 questions, training financial advisors to go deeper, and the climb toward a fiduciary standard.

Listen Now: Listen and subscribe to Morningstar's The Long View from your mobile device: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher

Our guest on the podcast today is George Kinder. He founded the Kinder Life Institute, which trains financial professionals in the field of what's called Life Planning after a 30-year career as a practicing financial planner and tax advisor. George is also the author of several books dedicated to teaching advisors about life planning: The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, Lighting the Torch, and Life Planning for You. He was the first winner of the Financial Planning Association's Heart of Financial Planning Award, which recognizes "individuals who demonstrate commitment and passion in doing extraordinary work to contribute or give back to the financial planning community and/or the public."

Background

Bio

The Kinder Institute of Life Planning

Books

The Genesis & Discovery Process of Life Planning

EVOKE:® A Life Planning Methodology

Psychology and Life Planning,” by George Kinder and Susan Galvan, kinderinstitute.com.

George Kinder: Three Questions About Life Planning,” by J.D. Roth, getrichslowly.org, Feb. 15, 2009.

Financial Planner Vs. Financial *Life* Planner. Which One Is the “Right One” for Me?” by Cristina Livadary, manafld.com, Jan. 24, 2020.

Kinder: Wisdom and Life Planning in the Coronavirus Era,” by George Kinder, financialplanningtoday.co.uk, April 6, 2020.

Financial Advice

Webinar: “George Kinder on Work-Life Balance--Life Planning & Mindfulness,” by George Kinder, brighttalk.com, Jan. 28, 2016.

Seven Stages of Money Maturity Workshop

EVOKE® 5-Day Life Planning Training

Life Planning for You

Transcript

Christine Benz: Hi, and welcome to The Long View. I'm Christine Benz, director of personal finance for Morningstar.

Jeff Ptak: And I'm Jeff Ptak, chief ratings officer at Morningstar Research Services.

Benz: Our guest on the podcast today is George Kinder. He founded the Kinder Life Institute, which trains financial professionals in the field of what's called Life Planning after a 30-year career as a practicing financial planner and tax advisor. George is also the author of several books dedicated to teaching advisors about life planning, The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, Lighting the Torch, and Life Planning for You. He was the first winner of the Financial Planning Association's Heart of Financial Planning Award, which recognizes "individuals who demonstrate commitment and passion in doing extraordinary work to contribute or give back to the financial planning community and/or the public."

George, welcome to The Long View.

George Kinder: Great. Christine, wonderful to be here. Thank you.

Benz: Well, we're really happy to have you here today, too. Let's start with a really basic question. You've been called the father of the Life Planning movement. So, for our audience, our listeners who aren't familiar with what Life Planning is, can you just give an overview of what life planning means?

Kinder: There are a number of people who will call themselves life planners out there. But we have a particular methodology that is strong and practiced by thousands of people actually all over the world. And that methodology is called EVOKE. And we have a designation--registered life planner designation--for that methodology. The process is one, fundamentally, what we do is we build a great trusting, inviting relationship between an advisor and their clients. And then, from that base, we move into inspirational--the place that the client is most excited about their life, most passionate about it, most inspired about it, or where they might be if they were really free. And we build an image of that freedom for the client that is so exciting that the client can't say no to it. And that brings tremendous energy in their life and they are moving on things that sometimes they thought they wouldn't do until retirement or 10 or 20 years from now. They're moving on them right now.

Ptak: How did your career evolve in this direction? It sounds like you started out as a tax advisor, but some of your experiences got you closer to what we now call life planning. It sounds like that had to do in part with the fact that a big share of your client base was psychologists and therapists.

Kinder: Yeah, a lot of my early clients were psychologists and therapists. I worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So, I had a lot of professors. I had a lot of entrepreneurs. But also, there's a strong counseling element there. But I think really where it came from, Jeff, was my own passion, my own concern that I was not living the life that I really wanted to live and my awareness that money was meant to deliver that, that money gave me access to delivering that life for myself. So, sometimes I joke that all I wanted to do was write poetry and meditate and no one would pay me in spite of this saying, “do what you love, and the money will fall,” and no one would pay me for my poems or my meditations.

I think the truth is that I was passionate about living a life that was much more free, much more creative than perhaps a normal life. And so, in working with the counseling community, what I learned that they had were incredible skills at listening. And so, what I adopted from them were terrific listening skills, so that when we train financial advisors, we're training them to really listen in a way that is both empathic and inspirational for a client, so that the connection is extraordinary.

Benz: One question we've put to other proponents of Life Planning is why a financial advisor should fill this role in that historically it had been more of the domain of therapists or clergy members. What's your thought on why this role is there for Life Planning for financial advisors?

Kinder: Well, that question has been asked since the inception of life planning, and I'm still confused why people are asking it. So, you mean if I've got a passion or a desire to live a certain kind of life, that there's either something wrong in my head or something wrong with my spirit? It's what it sounds like. But the truth is, I think that--and I think this is true for people all over the world--it's certainly proved that from our training people all over the world is that money is the primary and perhaps the most important resource for all of us as we're imagining and designing our life that we want going forward. How can you possibly be a financial advisor or a financial planner without really knowing your client and who it is that they want to be? Who it is that they want to become? I'm not sure what that has to do with either therapy or the clergy.

Ptak: You have made the point I believe that you don't think life planning should dwell on the past, it should be more forward thinking. Can you talk about that?

Kinder: Well, sure. Life planning is, as I said, it's imagining and creating what would be just the most incredible life for us. And I don't mean the most incredible materially. As you know, we ask really profound questions. So, we're looking at what are the sources of passion, and inspiration and vitality and meaning for someone. And as I say, this is not a pathological condition to have such dreams. This is natural for people all over the world in all economic situations and all cultures, for people to have dreams. And so, what we do is we find out what those dreams are. And then, once we've identified them, well, planning is just taking your advice mind and delivering it. Do you hire a therapist if you've got a business and you're trying to figure out what you're going to do for your next steps? No, you imagine what those next steps will be and then you use your skills of analysis to deliver them.

Benz: Let's talk about those profound questions that you think are the foundation of life planning. Let's start with the first one. And maybe you can walk us through the goal of that first question.

Kinder: Great. And I should say that a lot of times life planning is thought to reside primarily around these three questions. And I want to say that we have a number of different goal exercises that we use for our clients, including something called ideal day, ideal week, ideal year, something called Heart's Core Grid. The three questions are the ones that have attracted the most attention. I guess they're sexy in some way and surprising. And what we do with the three questions is we ask them in order, and they deepen.

So, the first question is just simply to imagine that you have all the money that you need for the rest of your life. And the question is just simply, what would you do with that? What would you do with your life? The purpose is to loosen the client up, because we're going to ask very meaningful questions in a moment, and they're life and death questions, they're profound questions. A client is going to feel a lot more comfortable if you've asked just a general fantasy question first. And so, this begins to loosen the client up so that they're actually thinking about all the different things that they might like to do. And it's already beginning to shift their understanding of their priorities by listing them.

Benz: And how about the life or death questions that would follow from that first icebreaker question?

Kinder: So, the second question is very simple. And it's that you imagine you're going to the doctor, and you're just going for a routine visit, but the doctor has been checking some things and they surprise you with understanding that you have a rare ailment. And the good news is that you'll live a healthy life for the next five to 10 years, but the bad news is that you've only got five to 10 years left to live. And so, the question is, what would you do with that five to 10 years? And you can see, that's a much more tender question to ask someone, much more intimate question.

So, what it does for people is it begins to… The first one gives them all this freedom of money. Now, they've got an urgency more of time and they're beginning to prioritize not in terms of money but prioritizing in terms of life energy. What would they like to do? How would they like to live? And already you can see that the traditional financial questions about retirement pale in comparison to this in terms of the value of understanding, who the client really wants to be and what they want their money to deliver?

And then, the third question is also a question that is a legacy kind of question, starts with the doctor. And here, you go to the doctor and this time they really shock you with the knowledge that in fact the tests have revealed something terrible, that you've had a rare ailment and it's come to term, and you only have 24 hours left to live. The question is not what you would do with that time, but rather to reflect on who it is that you'd wanted to be, what it is that you'd wanted to do. And so, what we want is for you to tell us, what would you have liked to do and who would you have liked to have been? And there you can see the answers are going to be most profound of all. Very often in these last two questions, question two and question three, relationships come up but so do matters of spirit--it could be something values-oriented or it could be something explicitly religious.

The third most common thing to come up is creativity, including creativity around one's business. And fourth and fifth are community and something about the environment or a sense of place. But the first one is usually family. Sometimes people have all five of these things going on. And once again, you can see that when you are working with the traditional financial-planning program, the only one of these that's covered, is community. It's that philanthropic essence of an estate plan of how you want to give back. But that's not what people want. What people want has to do with family, creativity, spirit or values, community and environment, or such a place. That's what's great about life planning. We go write out those things and we deliver things in short order.

Ptak: I think that we'd want to talk some more about how one goes through that process of self-discovery that you've just described. But before we did that, is that process something that an individual can conduct on his or her own or based on your experience is a coach or a guide essential?

Kinder: Well, we have kind of a robo-advisor, that's called “Life Planning for You” that guides individuals through this process. Also, I've written a number of books for the general consumer, so that they could also guide themselves through the process. So, I believe strongly that there's a lot we can do as individuals. That said, it's just fantastic to have an advisor, because one of the reasons that life planning works so brilliantly in the advisory community is that we, in general, haven't given ourselves permission to live the life we really want to live. We're filled with messages about how we've got to pay the mortgage or got to educate the kids or got to provide for the family, or it's just too selfish or self-centered to give ourselves what we really want. And so, it often is tremendously helpful to have someone there who really believes in you--which is what we've trained the advisors to do--really believes in you and knows that if you're delivering your best into the world, you're going to deliver so much more into the world than you ever imagined possible.

In fact, one of the ways that I think of this in terms of general economics is that life planning is, if we could make life planning ubiquitous all over the planet and at all levels of society, it would be worth far more to society than banks or sources of capital for innovation and entrepreneurial endeavor, because people are inspired with passionate, entrepreneurial effort out of their dreams of freedom. I mean, what life planning does is it democratizes entrepreneurial spirit, whereas the systems that we have right now squirrel it away for private equity and venture capital and hedge funds. And it's just basically an elite that has access to that entrepreneurial endeavor, energy, passion.

Benz: One thing you mentioned is that people often are at odds with what their aspirations are for their lives, what they're doing is at odds with their aspiration. Can we talk about that how advisors could help bridge that gap? For example, say I've told you that it's really important to me to help my children financially and to pay off my mortgage. But I've also told you that I really want nothing to do with the job that I'm doing on a day-to-day basis. So, how does an advisor help bring those things together?

Kinder: Well, the thing is that an advisor can't really; in some ways, the client has to, and that's the beauty the life planning process that we teach in that the advisor primarily facilitates these realizations for the client. And one of the things that you're describing, Christine, just wouldn't happen in a life planning meeting. So, you would not have someone saying as the answer to their third question, which is the most profound one and the one you're going to emphasize as you deliver the life plan, you're not going to have them say, “Gosh, 24 hours left, who did I not get to be? What did I not get to do? I didn't get to pay off my mortgage.” They're just not going to say that.

They may say, “A deeper version of my current job,” but it's much more likely to be, “I really wanted to be outdoors more,” or “I really wanted to spend more time with my family or be more creative.” They're more likely to tell you what their aspirations are. And in terms of helping my children financially, in that third question, it's remotely possible that we'll be there. But it's much more likely to be, “I didn't get to pass on a real legacy for my kids.” And now, we can explore something really quite profound. So, the money piece comes in later, after we've discovered who it is that the client really wants to be. And these financial questions that you raise are ways that we have blocked ourselves from, in fact, making those other things happen.

So, just as an example, Christine, here you are, you're doing wonderful journalism for Morningstar. And if you were to really be in a place where what you really wanted to do was write just the great American novel, or what you really wanted to do was to design an independent film. That's more likely to come up than some aversion to a current job that you have. And we would inspire you around that. And then we would look at the difference between what you're doing and where you want to be. And we would inspire you so much to go where you want to be just because that's what you were born to do. We'd ask you how would you get there? I've got lots of ideas as your financial advisor, but I want to hear from you: How would you get there, knowing that that's where you really want to go? So, what we're building is we're building their enthusiasm and their passion and their inspiration inside themselves, to deliver into the world, the person they really want to be. And I think the other piece of this is that that happens for advisors because of their training. And so, that becomes an important piece of this.

Ptak: How does this process work for couples? Presumably, the responses might not be completely in sync?

Kinder: The piece I loved most was working with couples. And even now, in our trainings, we try to always have at least a couple. The very small groups that we've gathered together, we try to always have at least one couple in that group. It's wonderful, in part because the couple falls in love again. So, here they are, they've been just taking care of the tasks of life moving forward. And to some extent, they've forgotten about who the other person really is, what they really dream about. No, it's not for all couples, but that certainly happens often enough. And so, you'll hear, as the couple are going through the experience, you'll either hear this, you'll either hear them say, their partner say, “I didn't realize you wanted to do that.” Or “I didn't realize you still love that.” And you hear it as both astonishment and with affection most of the time.

So, what happens in a life planning engagement is the couple falls in love again. And as the advisor you're part of that experience. As you know, you can't have a great couple unless you have two independent people with really strong senses of who they are and who they want to be in the world and then supporting each other. And that's what we do. We build these incredible, passionate dreams for each of them, and they're so excited about them that their partner is almost naturally compelled to be delighted as well. There are times, certainly, and I've written about them extensively in my books, there are times where the couples have very different ideas, even though they love each other deeply. And even there, there's a way in which that deep love comes through and we figure out a way to make it work.

Benz: Do you find that the responses to the three questions require time and introspection? In other words, my first responses might not be my best or most helpful responses? Or is it the opposite, that my gut response might in fact be my best response?

Kinder: Yeah, wonderful question. I think it can go either way really. I trust the gut. I love the gut responses because, particularly, if you've built a good relationship, so that the client is eager to talk with you, because they know you're a great listener, that you're responsive in an empathic way or in an inspirational way around what they care about. So, if they feel that, their gut responses are going to be pretty on target, and I think only if they still have some distrust with that shift, and distrust is one of the great things that we're dealing with in life planning that isn't dealt with adequately in the world of financial advice in general. As you know, financial advisors are one of the least-trusted set of professionals in the world. And what we do is we give these skills so that the advisor is really real and not selling product, which is what they normally do, but is dedicated to the client and their life.

Ptak: Does that ever happen that someone is wrong about what they want? For example, someone says that, “What I really want to do is get out of medicine and become a yoga instructor.” So, they do that but decide they shouldn't have?

Kinder: Well, you're never wrong. You may look back three months later… There are situations where we have people who change--I hope we all are changing as we go through life: growing, deepening, understanding things better. So, we had a wonderful advisor in one of our first trainings. So, in the trainings, we actually life-plan the advisors as well as they also life-plan someone in the group. And we had one advisor who really longed to get out of financial planning and to live in Africa. And, of course, we thought it was wonderful. What a wonderful idea. So, we gave her that freedom to live in Africa. We found a way to design a life that would work. We had her living in Africa three months within the next year, six months the year after. She came back after that first year of three months living in Africa and she said, “Africa will always be part of my life, but I've decided I don't want to live there after all. I'd rather visit and what I really wanted to do is I want to be a life planner.” So, she came back and shifted her notion.

And I think that happens a lot. And particularly when you have people who are really overworking long hours, at jobs--you talked about someone having a job they really didn't like. If someone is overwhelmed with responsibilities that are not appealing to them, they don't have the freedom to feel their way or dream their way or fantasize their way into how they would actually really like to live. And so, their first dream may not hit it on target, it may need to be evolved, but you deliver that first dream, because that's what gives them the rush of freedom, that then they can look more clearly at their life with.

Benz: In our society, there's often pressure to rack up outward signs of success: to hold a prestigious job, live in a big house, and so on. But those things might in fact be detracting from happiness and freedom. How do you coach people on letting go of those outward shows of success in order to focus on what brings them freedom and happiness and joy?

Kinder: Well, really in a way, as I say, we don't coach them. They coached themselves. But what we do is, when we discover what they really want, and if what they really want is very different from having that expensive house or that prestigious job, we contrast it. We just hold it up. Often, we will put up two hands at once. And we'll say, well, this hand--the right hand--is you're living this life of freedom that you're describing, and your left hand is having the prestigious job. So, my question to you is, which one do you want to choose? We've never had anyone choose their prestigious job. We've never had anyone choose the expensive house. So, when their dream is really articulated so that they really feel that experience of freedom. And that's what a great life planner will deliver to you. Nobody's going to choose something that doesn't give that to them.

Ptak: Since you mentioned freedom, as I think you know, a big emphasis of the FIRE movement is financial freedom. So, curious to get your take. Are you a fan of the FIRE movement?

Kinder: Well, the little I've heard of it, and I'm afraid, Jeff, to plead just a little bit of ignorance, but I have heard a bit and everything I've heard about I've been delighted in regard to. And I think, as I say the main difference is probably in methodology, that we have a methodology that really works in a profound way for clients and advisors and for that relationship.

Benz: How do a person's investments fit in here? Is there a role for ESG in this context-- environmental, social, governance-type investing--bringing everything full circle by helping the portfolio align with the person's belief system and values?

Kinder: Yeah, for sure, there is. Although I think we're really holding ourselves back in some pretty profound ways, powerful ways around both ESG and the fiduciary standard, that, as you know, much of the financial-planning community and the investment advisor community is passionate about, but has been blocked by Congress and blocked by large product company, large institutions. I think that where I go with ESG is that we need to go much further with it.

Right now, it's just a movement, it seems to me that is about your investments. And I think it's wonderful. What they're doing is really wonderful work highlighting it. And, of course, the debate amongst the community that are not ESG passionate is, well, does it really help your investments? Are you really going to get the rate of return and all of that kind of thing? And I think that that is in a way an unfortunate debate.

One of the things that I have done in the last couple of years--this last year has been difficult because of COVID--but I've traveled the world doing something that I call pruning really life planning civilization. Right now, here we are today, Christine and Jeff, it's hard to talk today. I must say that. I don't know if you're feeling it. But we had a mob and an insurrection. And democracy was stopped, absolutely stopped. And luckily, we've started it up again. But the question that I am asking, and what I believe in, I mean, this polarization in society is really pretty crazy. I've traveled the world, looking at how do we life-plan civilization? And the question that I asked everywhere is, what do you want in A Golden Civilization--which is the title of my book--and everybody wants the same thing. Whether you're in a red state or a blue state, whether you're in a poverty-stricken India and Africa, or in the richest civilizations of Europe, people want the same thing. They want kindness, they want community, they want vitality. Everywhere, they want democracy and democratic freedom.

So, I'm of a different flavor here on both ESG and fiduciary. I think it's time to make these trends much more powerful rather than playing around the margins of finance. Just to ask you a question, here we are, most of the people that are--perhaps you are--I'm passionate about capitalism, I'm passionate that we've had 250 years of incredible innovation. And yet I see the innovation that we have right now in society as tiny compared to what we could have if we were to life-plan civilization and to deliver it into the world. And just a very simple example of that--in 250 years of the kind of capitalism that we have, you would think if we were a tremendously innovative society, we would by now, after all that time, automatically have arrived at the top of every hierarchy of power, the new Amazons, the new Apples, the new Googles, every hierarchy of power, we would have what's best in humanity, we would have wisdom arriving at the top of every hierarchy of power. But the truth is that we rarely find it, if ever, at the top of any hierarchy of power.

So, something is really off in the model that we have and ESG is getting at that, in a way. One of the things that I've been promoting is a fiduciary standard that is much broader than what even the industry is fighting for. And that is a fiduciary standard that all corporations should place the interests of democracy, the planet, and all stakeholders, all human species, the whole human species, ahead of their own private interests. And if that occurred, we would find the end of really all of the struggles that we have in the world. I think we would find the end of corruption; we would find democracy everywhere; we would find the end of racism. We would find, within a generation, the end of war.

So, I'm passionate about ESG in a much larger way and about fiduciary in a much larger way. And I'm hopeful that the financial industry--not the industry, but the professionals--will begin to think about these issues in a larger way, because they've been blocked by the institutions. How can they speak out about a real fiduciary approach to society.

Ptak: Maybe switching to financial advice… Some advisors for all of your approaches, merits, they might be leery of life planning; maybe they think it's a little too squishy for them or not substantive enough. Is it possible that some of the spreadsheet and calculator types just won't be good at this sort of work with clients? And so, they shouldn't even try? Or is it the case that all advisors can get better at this with some training?

Kinder: Yes, all advisors can get better at this with training, there's just no question. And talk about squishy or not substantive. So, hold up for yourself a sheet of papers of numbers and look at Christine, and tell me, what's substantive there? Is it the sheet of numbers or is it Christine? What is substantive is the human being. And so, what we're delivering here is just a fabulous human being into the world.

I mean, another way of understanding this is, in economics--I was trained in economics at Harvard--and I use economic thinking all the time, and I am shifting my understanding of economics in terms of what is the basic unit, the essential unit of economics, as opposed to a unit of transaction or a unit of cash. I think the essential unit in both economics and democracy is a moment of freedom. And what we really want to do is maximize those moments of freedom all across society. And what that would do would be actually to maximize the efficient allocation of human capital. So, this is not squishy stuff. This is actually strong economic thinking, delivering a much more innovative society filled with much more growth than we see right now into society.

Benz: You conduct life planning for financial advisors at the Kinder Institute. Can you walk through what that training consists of? You have, it sounds like, a two-day workshop called The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, and a five-day version, which you referenced, it's called EVOKE. Can you talk about what goes on in those sessions?

Kinder: Thank you, Christine. Our trainings are enormously experiential. They're also very practical and pragmatic in terms of skills. So, in The Seven Stages, two-day training, we train people in listening skills. There's something like 16 different listening skills that we put the advisors through and practice. And they involve both inner listening, deep inside themselves so that they become more subtle at noticing what their state of mind is as they're listening to a client. And external listening, having to do with really being there for the client in an empathic and an inspirational way. We also train them, obviously, in the inspirational exercises that we deliver and in the methodologies of the movement from stage to stage in a client engagement.

But the best training that we do, and the one that I would recommend if anyone were really eager to learn about life planning would be the five-day EVOKE training. That's the one that is both life-changing and business-changing immediately. When an advisor comes out of that training, they have changed their approach to their clients dramatically and understand how to deliver it from the first meeting to the second to the third. And part of the way that that happens is that we only allow 10 or 12 people into that training and typically there are three or four trainers. So, the pedagogy has huge trainer-to-client numbers. But the exciting thing about it is that an advisor comes in and they life-plan, they pair up with someone. They life-plan that person throughout those five days. And it's real, it's not play-acting, it's not imagining. It's actually delivering that person into the life that they really want to live. And meanwhile, that same advisor is getting life-planned by their partner. So, what happens when an advisor leaves the program is they are living their life plan. They are so excited, inspired that they really see how this process works of EVOKE, and the inspiration and how to deliver it. So, knowing that internally means that when they meet with clients, they're much more authentic, they're much more… There the client doesn't have any question about who they are, they know that this person cares about them and their life plan because they've lived it.

Benz: Are you concerned that life planning is being used as a marketing gimmick by some financial professionals and firms? Even if it's not called “life planning” overtly, it seems to be ubiquitous in the marketing coming from some of the big financial firms these days.

Kinder: Of course, it's ubiquitous, it works. So, of course, they're piling on their terminology and trying to appear as if that's what they do. Concerned about it? If we had a fiduciary standard for all corporations that required them to put truth and people ahead of their profits, they wouldn't be able to do that. So, of course, it's completely inappropriate that they're doing it. But you can't be concerned. It's something that's been going on for dozens of years. And unless we tackle the issue of the dominance in markets of large institutions--we don't have free markets in the world, we have dominated markets--and they're not dominated by government, they're dominated by large corporations. So, until we tackle that, there's no point in being concerned. I don't know how to say it other than it's time to get our work done and make a fiduciary standard ubiquitous across civilization.

Ptak: Maybe if we were to shift and look at it through the consumers' eyes, if a consumer was trying to be discerning about which advisors really know what they're doing when it comes to life planning, and which are, maybe want-to-be's and use it as a marketing hook, what would you suggest to them to help them to separate the wheat from the chaff?

Kinder: I think that's one of the reasons we have a whole advisor search on our website with, as I say, thousands of advisors have studied with us. So, you want someone who's really been trained in EVOKE in my opinion, someone who's been trained in really listening to you with empathy and putting you first in a fiduciary kind of way and then someone who is capable of hearing your aspirations without dousing them with budgetary negatives. So, I would say, look on the websites.

Benz: What about robo-advice or automated advice in general? Is it simply impossible for them to incorporate life planning principles? Or do you think the two can live together?

Kinder: Well, as I say, we have a kind of robo-advice program that is called “Life Planning for You.” And it works through all the three questions that we've gone through and all of that and attempts to inspire a consumer to live their life of freedom. And of course, I've written a number of books for consumers to help them do it. So, I believe that they that they can do it. And I think it's possible to team up with robo-advice to make it happen.

Ptak: Is there a business model for financial advice that you favor?

Kinder: Just basically not sale of product, we shouldn't even think of that as being advice that a great business model is first of all, it puts the client first. So, it's fiduciary in all aspects. I don't think you can be a fiduciary without being a life planner. And it's certainly fee-only advice. I think all of the different models of fee-only advice can be adopted to a life planning practice.

Benz: I think there's a lot to like about the hourly model for financial advice from the standpoint of consumers and what's right for consumers. Is there a tendency for consumers who are paying for advice in this way to be a little bit impatient with life planning? What's been your experience with that? If they feel like they're on the clock, are they sort of like, “No, we need to get to the hardcore financial questions; we can't be toiling in this other area.”

Kinder: I know from my own perspective, I haven't practiced in a number of years, but I always had--my primary model was that AUM model; I also used a retainer model periodically and at times--but I always had available an hourly model for anyone who couldn't afford to be an AUM client. And what I found was that the people who came in for the hourly model were extremely enthusiastic about it and motivated not to hurry me up but to do the homework coming in so that they were really there and on target for the meeting that we had. So, I had enormous enthusiasm in all the hourly clients that I worked with. This doesn't take much more time, Christine. This isn't like doing years and years of therapy. I would work and I trained advisors to work in an hour to deliver a life plan. Although more often than not, it takes a number of hours to do it. So, no, I've not felt the clock being there at all and haven't heard that being the case with people that we've trained.

Benz: Well, George, this has been such an illuminating conversation. We so appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to be with us today. Thank you so much.

Kinder: Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you, Christine.

Ptak: Thanks again.

Kinder: Thanks, Jeff.

Benz: Thanks for joining us on The Long View. If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to and rate The Long View from Morningstar on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can follow us on Twitter @Christine_Benz.

Ptak: And at @Syouth1, which is, S-Y-O-U-T-H and the number 1.

Benz: George Castady is our engineer for the podcast and Kari Greczek produces the show notes each week.

Finally, we'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or a guest idea, please email us at TheLongView@Morningstar.com. Until next time, thanks for joining us.

(Disclaimer: This recording is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed are as of the date of recording. Such opinions are subject to change. The views and opinions of guests on this program are not necessarily those of Morningstar, Inc. and its affiliates. Morningstar and its affiliates are not affiliated with this guest or his or her business affiliates unless otherwise stated. Morningstar does not guarantee the accuracy, or the completeness of the data presented herein. Jeff Ptak is an employee of Morningstar Research Services LLC. Morningstar Research Services is a subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. and is registered with and governed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Morningstar Research Services shall not be responsible for any trading decisions, damages or other losses resulting from or related to the information, data analysis or opinions or their use. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Individuals should seriously consider if an investment is suitable for them by referencing their own financial position, investment objectives and risk profile before making any investment decision.)