From doubt to action: a conversation with financial planner Paul
14 Nov 2023
Navigating the financial world can be challenging, but Paul, a financial planner at Equip, makes it more accessible with his 12 years of experience as a Certified Financial Planner. In this interview we explore Paul's approach to helping Equip users. We discuss common financial questions and problems, and practical tips he gives to achieve financial goals. With his knowledge and people-oriented approach, Paul offers a unique insight into how financial planning can benefit everyone.
Which themes do you often see in your conversations with Equip users?
“Important questions asked by many Equip users are about housing and building up long-term wealth. Uncertainties about this have increased enormously, especially in the past 2 years. For many people who have not yet bought a house, I provide advice about the steps you need to take, different mortgages, the costs associated with buying, and taxes. Equip users are often people who have not previously had help with their finances and who now need expert guidance with certain financial decisions. People often know somewhat about what is possible, but do not have the confidence and knowledge to actually take action. Think of investing or opening a savings account with the highest interest: many people do not do this. I help them take those steps.”
For whom is a financial planner relevant?
“I just mentioned uncertainty about finances. I see that everyone experiences uncertainty about some part of their finances. So, a financial planner is relevant for everyone! Everyone has major financial choices to make, needs a good overview and needs to look ahead. Because you don't want things to just 'happen' to you. Of course, I also speak to people who already have a lot of knowledge and life experience. I often discuss more specific issues with them that are going on in their lives. In any case, it does not depend on your income, wealth or age."
How do you work with Equip users?
“First of all, I prepare well for the conversation with the information that the Equip user has shared on the Equip platform. Then, during the approximately half-hour conversation, we will go through your entire financial profile, see what your goals are and what steps you need to take. In that one conversation I usually take away so much uncertainty that people think 'aha, I'm going to figure out some things myself'! But sometimes we schedule a follow-up meeting to delve deeper into specific topics. At the end of each conversation I share my summary and what the specific action points are to get started with. I occasionally send a reminder about this, asking if I can be of further help. It is very nice to see and hear how satisfied Equip users are with this service!”
"In that one conversation I usually take away so much uncertainty that people think 'aha, I'm going to figure out some things myself'!"
What is the added value of a human planner compared to a chatbot?
“Two people are never the same. Even though on paper they have the same income, the same family situation and both have a house; I can still give different advice. You have to sense whether people are risk-seeking or risk-averse, what they are interested in and what they are not, and see how they react. On the other hand, it is also very important that people trust me. This usually happens naturally, I think it is a kind of appearance that you have and convey during the conversation. The fact that I am independent and not affiliated with a bank or investment party also helps with this. I also think it is important to listen carefully and not just transmit. I want people to know that I take them seriously.”
What are the biggest financial mistakes people make?
“First of all, I see that people have no idea about their pension. Most employers offer it, but many employees do not understand it and do not take steps to set it up in the right way. Secondly, I would say that people don't understand the difference between investing and speculating. Users often come to me, quite ashamed, that they have done “something with crypto”. They heard about it from friends, and then they started doing it. They really have no idea how to handle it, and certainly no idea that it can all suddenly be gone. Responsible investing means thinking long term. Finally, a more overarching problem is that people can be quite lazy sometimes. There are so many options when it comes to opening a savings account with a more attractive interest rate, for example, but almost no one takes advantage of that.”
Do you have a final money tip for us?
"Of course! The best way to build wealth is to open an account with an investment company, at least online. Of course with money you don’t need in the next couple of years. Make sure that that the costs are no more than 0.7% all-in per year. With most providers you pay (much) more, so don't do that. Buy 1 globally diversified ETF there, lay in automatically an amount every month, start with 50 euros if necessary. And if possible, increase it. And here's the thing: never look back! Then, you will have a nice surprise after 40 years!”