The father of holistic planning has automated his process for helping individuals figure out the most important things in their lives, essentially robotizing the first few steps of the life planning process he created almost 20 years ago.
“Everyone has always said you can't do this online, so I s et my mind to it,” said George Kinder, founder and president of The Kinder Institute of Life Planning.
His firm recently created the website Life Planning For You, an online tool that leads people through a series of deeply personal questions, including asking them to imagine if they had only a day left to live, what would they feel they had missed out on doing or being?
One aspect that makes this online process better than doing it live is that a client can more privately delve into the in-depth nature of the questions, Mr. Kinder said.
But by virtue of it being an automated system, it has weaknesses, he said.
The challenges of a web-based program include creating intimacy with clients and inspiring them to commit to and live out their life plan, Mr. Kinder said. Of course, some advisers don't do this particularly well either, he added.
The institute makes the tool available for free to the public.
The planning tool for consumers concludes by offering some basic financial advice on investments and insurance and suggests that those who want more should contact a live adviser trained in life planning. The institute offers a searchable tool for finding these advisers, all of whom have completed the life planning training.
About 3,000 people have used the online tool, and about half of those who complete the process look for an adviser, Mr. Kinder said.
“The consumer who has complex issues is going to want an adviser,” he said. “We show how they can find an adviser.”
Life planning, or holistic planning, grew in popularity in the late 1990s as the giant baby boomer generation began to think seriously about retirement. Mr. Kinder, then an adviser, published a book in 1999 that became a practical guide for other advisers on how to get into personal, goals-oriented talks with clients, even though it was originally written for consumers.
Goals-based planning has grown in popularity ever since, and is part of the process many people go through with advisors or brokers.