Mitch Anthony, who pioneered life-centered financial advice, will address the annual FPA Congress next week. He spoke to Financial Standard about what advisers can expect from his session.
Mitch Anthony has been a thought leader in financial planning for over 20 years.
The University of Texas credits him as introducing the idea of "financial life dialogues" with his 2001 book Your Clients Your Life, which the university describes as seminal.
Anthony, who is flying in from the US for the event, will speak at an afternoon session on day one of the Congress about building relationships that last and flourish.
"The session will be about why financial planners need to move their central value proposition from talking to their clients about a return on investment, to a return on life," he said in an interview ahead of his arrival for the FPA Congress in Melbourne next week.
A lot has changed since Anthony's visit to Australia last year: the government has passed a ban on grandfathered commissions paid to financial advisers, the big banks has hastened their exit of financial advice and advisers have sat two rounds of the new FASEA exams.
"The Aussies are moving to be the frontrunners in transparency and ethics. The legislation has upset a lot of people but the intent is good that financial planning needs to move from making a sale to ensuring they support people through the different stages of their life," he says.
Return on Life (ROL) is a concept that he developed and owns the trademark to.
Anthony also helped co-develop a coursework on life-centered financial planning at University of Texas, with Sarah Asbedo and Deena Katz.
Interestingly, the first student to graduate the course was an Australian, Glenn Malkiewicz of Endorphin Wealth.
He says their work identified 65 life transitions that a person goes through, far beyond the four to seven that are used as a norm.
His company now works with 250 advisers across 12 countries. It equips them with software, marketing tools and content to help them move towards a life-centered approach to financial advice for their clients.
Financial planning was not Anthony's first career of choice - he came to it after decades in community support work.
Anthony studied theology and philosophy at university. When he was 25, he set up a crisis helpline for farmers who were dying by suicide after being sold unnecessary, inflated loans, and finding they had no support from the government.
The next 17 years of his life were spent working with high school students in suicide prevention.
As a part of this work he made his first visit to Australia more than 25 years ago to work on a program called Peer Power in Queensland which taught high schoolers important life skills such as how to manage conflict in relationships.
The switch to finance came after a speaking event where he addressed about 700 people and the next day received a letter from a mutual fund company inviting him to work for them, to share his human-centric ideas.
The switch to financial planning came after a conversation with a top adviser in California.
"About 15 years ago, I talked to an adviser who was top five in all of California and he was miserable. I realised that it was because his value proposition was making a return on investment, which is a promise that you just can't keep," he says.
He staunchly opposes "cookie cutter" advice that doesn't take clients' life stages into account.
His session, he says, will offer insights on how advisers can move away from it and towards a more wholesome approach to financial planning.