Turning Financial Planning upside down

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Doug Dahmer, CEO and founder of www.RetirementNavigator.ca has been a regular guest contributor to the Hub since its inception in November 2014. His focus is on Canada Pension Plan optimization, avoidance of retirement tax traps, and the creation of drawdown strategies during the decumulation side of financial planning. Some of these ideas have been used (with proper attribution) in various columns I’ve written in other media outlets, generally summarized here at the Hub.

However, Dahmer has been noticeably quiet lately. This blog explains why.

As the headline says and the adjacent image suggests, Doug is about to turn financial planning on its head. How? By democratizing access to financial planning, in the same way that Robo-Advisors democratized investing. This disruption of the planning industry is built upon a new planning platform called Better Money Choices.

Asked what motivated him to launch this venture Dahmer said more than 70% of Canadians say their greatest worries in life are centred around their financial futures. “Yet at the same time it is estimated that fewer than 15% of Canadians have a formal financial plan in place.”

As he talked to clients about this disconnect — why they resisted the idea of financial planning as an Rx to their financial stress — he discovered most people have no idea what true financial planning looks like.

Doug Dahmer, creator of BetterMoneyChoices.com

“The financial services industry has twisted the planning process into a tedious, time-consuming, onerous task that’s heavily biased toward the sale of financial products. What they hated most about planning, is that, more often than not, the conclusion to the process was always the same: spend less, save more, work longer, work harder. These recommendations were made while providing little in the way of  understanding of the specific rewards these sacrifices would deliver.”

In short, Planning did not relieve their level of stress, it actually increased it!

Money doesn’t buy stuff, it buys choices

True planning was never meant to promote the sale of financial products. It’s supposed to be a process that allows you to explore the lifestyle choices you are thinking about, so you can discover their future financial implications before you need to commit to them. “Armed with this insight, you can then decide whether you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices to bring them to fruition.”

Your most valuable asset isn’t money. It’s Time — and how you choose to spend it

Dahmer’s financial planning philosophy  is based on the belief our lives are defined by the choices we make: the more good choices we make, the better our lives will be.  His new site, BetterMoneyChoices.com, lets people quickly, easily and securely explore their lifestyle choices so they can better determine what outcomes they should focus on.

Everyone’s personal resources – time, money, energy, relationships and talents – are limited in some way. That forces each of us to make choices to accept less of one thing in order to obtain more of the things that are most important to us. However, seldom is “more money” what we are seeking.

It’s time the financial planning sector evolved with the times

Dahmer says technology has given us many low cost/no-cost, self-serve tools that make almost all aspects of our lives easier, but not yet financial planning. “My mission is to change this. By putting the focus on how you want to live your life instead of how much money you can accumulate, and making it easy for you to determine which set of choices will bring you closer to what you value most, the technology behind the Better Money Choices process will revolutionize planning.”

His goal is to make it a quick, easy and engaging process to determine the trajectory our lives are tracking. “I want to convert the misnomers that planning is an event that translates into an exact science to the reality that planning is an ongoing, never ending process of making a set of best guesses – projecting those best guesses into the future – then re-engaging with life to learn more.”

Such a process requires frequently returning to our ever-living planning platform to check our progress and improve upon our guesses. “Once people understand what true planning looks like and the huge benefits that can accrue by adopting this approach for directing them to better choices, their disdain for planning will finally disappear and they will rely on their planning tools with the same natural inclination they reach for their google maps when it comes time to choose how best to arrive at their desired destination.”

Exact pricing has yet to be determined, but Dahmer’s goal is to have a monthly subscription that is comparable to Netflix or Spotify.

Beta Testing

Dahmer is currently running a beta test to get user feedback, prior to it being released publicly (currently scheduled for April 1st, 2018, coincidentally a week before I myself turn 65).

Doug has asked me to participate as one of the early beta testers and I have agreed to do so. In the past week, I have been “playing” with the software with our own personal data and I can tell you already it’s an eye opener. Over the next few weeks on the Hub, I’ll report back to you on my experiences with the software and the impact this novel approach to planning has had on my own plans for the second half of my life.

After all, I’m hardly unique in turning 65 this year: some 1,100 other Canadians now do so each day. (Incidentally, I’ll be collecting my first Old Age Security cheque late in May but, as per the guidance of Doug and his new software, I’ve elected to wait until age 70 to collect the Canada Pension Plan. This too has been reported in my columns in the country’s two major daily newspapers or MoneySense.ca )

If you’d like to be one of the first to know when the site officially launches, you can sign up at www.BetterMoneyChoices.com.







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