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Pioneering positive change

31 Jul 2019

To celebrate woman this august, we spoke to the first Certified Financial Transitionist® (CeFT) in Africa, Mariette Tappan. She uses this unique qualification to pioneer positive change and serve her clients better by helping them deal with the emotional side of money.

As a Liberty client, you know that planned and unplanned changes occur. Positive and negative changes happen. The only constant is that change is inevitable. It often comes with a financial and an emotional impact.

“As financial planners, we are taught how to deal with the financial aspects of life, but after losing five clients in 2017, I realised that if I wanted to serve my clients better I had to improve my empathy and communication skills,” says Tappan. “That is when I started my journey as a Financial Transitionist.”

The impact of life events

Often it is only when ‘life happens’ that you realise the need for an adviser. You base your decision on a referral or on an adviser’s professional designations, education and experience. However, as a client, don't forget to consider the adviser’s ability to help you navigate the personal and emotional challenges you and your loved ones may face.

During her career, Mariette has come across clients experiencing numerous life events that triggered change, along with major financial transitions. These have included serious health changes such as business liquidity events, personal injuries, changes to parental situations, marriage, divorce as well as retirement and inheritances. It also extends to the death of a spouse, major career changes and having a child.

Mariette quotes Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute, who says, “When life changes, money changes, and when the money changes, life changes.”

Advisers need to understand how to help you through these transitions, because they can lead to a significant shift in your sense of ‘normal’. Clients-in-transition often struggle with communication, decision-making, managing expectations, and even implementation. These clients require a different set of tools and protocols than most advisers are used to.

“That’s when it’s especially important to be able to understand a client’s financial needs and how to take care of them, while also listening, helping them prioritise important decisions, minimising stress and understanding the emotions involved,” says Tappan. “That doesn’t mean that the integrity of the financial planning process isn’t still critical in finding the right solutions for people."

A unique skill set

Even if you already have a good relationship with your adviser, having the skills to identify the struggle you are going through when you experience a big change isn’t easy. As a CeFT, Tappan has learnt how to step in with a structured conversation that includes a purpose, method and an outcome. It’s a conversation that helps clients stay calm, feel in control and understand why something is important to them.

Tappan explains, “As a professional, the importance of using tools that are scientifically founded and well researched is key to ensuring that I can help my clients by being their thinking partner, guide and confidante. I can give them a process to figure things out as we co-create their new journey forward.”

The way people choose products and get advice is changing, which means that advisers need to change too. For the industry, the move towards fee-based advice means that we need to find new ways of doing things. With this qualification, Tappan has differentiated herself and opened new possibilities for how to structure her business.

Tappan continues, “There has never been a better time in the industry for young advisers, especially woman. They are going to enjoy the greatest wave of money in motion and transition, that this planet has ever seen. Young planners are going to be the inheritors of this great time of change and transition, but you have to be prepared on both sides.”

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