New Designs for $20 and $50 banknotes
Disclosure and Replacement Case Study

What is financial well-being? "Security and freedom, now and in the future"

A good financial planning process will directly address the question 'what is financial well-being?' for the clients. Poorer processes assume a common definition for financial well-being, and so long as it is 'about right' they work, but they fail utterly if a difference emerges between what the client and the adviser believes is 'good.'

So what is financial well-being? An excellent report from the (US) Consumer Financial Protection Board details the main components of the financial well-being, based on some extensive research, as the following four components: 

"FEELING IN CONTROL - People who have high levels of financial well-being feel in control of their day-to-day and month-to-month finances. They cover their expenses and pay their bills on time, and generally they do not worry about having enough money to get by. This is not just about having money, they told us, it’s about managing it. Think of this as having financial security, in the present.

CAPACITY TO ABSORB A FINANCIAL SHOCK - Whether they get in a car accident or are temporarily laid off from a job, these consumers have a safety net such as savings, insurance, or family to help stop a shock from turning into a longer-lasting setback. One way to describe this is feeling financial security, for the future.

ON TRACK TO MEET GOALS - Consumers with a higher sense of financial well-being tell us they are on track to meet their financial goals. Whether or not they have a formal financial plan, they are setting goals that are important to them, and working toward those goals. Think of this as moving toward financial freedom, for the future.

FLEXIBILITY TO MAKE CHOICES - These consumers have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow them to enjoy life, whatever that means to them. Whether that is taking a family vacation, going out to eat, or working less to spend more time with family, these consumers have the financial flexibility to do what they value and what makes them happy. This can be described as having financial freedom, in the present."

You will note that the first two are statements about security, now and in the future. The second two are about freedom: the ability to make choices either today, or in the future - our goals. 

Of course, that is just a conceptual framework. The exciting part is asking people what that means for them, and then working out how best to help them with that. Link


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