by Tony Vidler.
Heaven help us...the financial services sector is apparently getting new jargon! Because we need it.
It can only be a matter of time before the new buzzworders suggest we also need new qualifications to qualify for the new buzzword, possibly with a recommendation for new acronyms to describe the new Jargon.
In the last 24 hours two interesting articles appeared on my radar screen suggesting that financial services - or more specifically, financial planning - has some new buzz words now because we need them.
In one story I read with interest that "Finology is the new buzzword in US Financial Planning circles". In the other, I read that "financial life planning" has arrived. Dammit....I think I'll have to call myself a Life Finology Planner. Actually, I thought the Financial Life Planning wave was rather late in being reported given it has actually been around for quite a few years now as a school of thought. Nevertheless, I am now reassured to learn that it has in fact arrived.
Finology though? More on that shortly....but it does sound rather like the scientific study of the back end of rockets doesn't it?
Let's begin with the tardy Financial Life Planning that took so long to arrive. Well this is the "core of a fast-growing American financial advice movement that is spreading across the world", and credited to George Kinder. According to one practitioner quoted in the story this discipline is about "connecting money with life rather than sitting down with people and telling them they need to buy a pension". The Financial Life Planner quoted contends that ordinary financial planning consists of planners attempting "to find an individuals secret sorrow".
This intrigued me, as I have never heard - from the hundreds of financial planners, or the many more hundreds of other types of financial advisers that I know who effectively do financial planning work - that the business is about finding someone's secret sorrow. Doing a little digging via Google around the financial planning world didn't reveal anyone focused upon uncovering sorrows or vast regrets for individuals either.
The focus of the Financial Life Planner is oddly enough precisely upon doing what your common garden-variety financial planners say they try to do: ask clients questions and get to know their aspirations, and then helping them to put together a plan that is most likely to help them achieve it.
So back to "Finology"...with full credit to my faithful assistant Google....it seems the founding Finologist is a chap called Richard Wagner, who claims credit for inventing this word. In an interesting article he says that the profession needs this new word because there is no word that describes the relationship between an individual and money in the English Language. What about "dependence" Richard?
Just as an aside; the word "relationship" itself is defined as "a connection, an involvement or an association". So conceivably the apparently missing word to describe a persons relationship with their money is "relationship"? Just sayin'...y'know?
Regardless, Wagner postulates that the profession's progress is limited by the absence of our own vocabulary to describe this link, and the term "Life Planning" is dismissed as being too broad a term to accurately describe what planners do. Ergo: Finology. Hurrah!
What a huge yawn....and that is just for those in the business. It will be an even bigger yawn for consumers.
The questions that arise whenever this sort of nonsense is mooted should be:
- How will coining a new term to describe an existing professional competency help the profession or the consumers of its services?
- Who is this term being developed for? (i.e. for whose benefit?)
- If the new term is to be valid, how is it really differentiated from existing disciplines?
The story on Financial Life Planning that caught my attention:
More on Finology by the very Finologist himself....
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