You can’t do great Financial Planning with the puppet – you need the master
Something you’ll need to look out for is the ‘puppet and master’. But what is it, and how do you deal with it? Let’s take a look.
How to spot the puppet
There were several occasions, during the early parts of my financial planning and coaching career, when I came across a particular scenario. I’d be doing some really great work with a client – securing anchor points in their mind to help with some great decision making, looking at their life outcomes, financial planning and then financial advice. I’d then finish a session feeling on top of the world – like we’d made some really great progress.
But then they would turn up at their next session and ask really curveball questions – almost as though the previous session hadn’t even happened. So I would answer the question and try to get them back on track. But the next time they came back, the same thing would happen again. More weird question that had little to do with what we’d just talked about. It was perplexing.
I also noticed that, every time there was a decision to be made, they would say, “I’ll go away and think about it” – even with the most obvious decisions, when there wasn’t really a decision to be made.
Over time, I realised that I wasn’t dealing with the master. I was dealing with the puppet.
Behind the scenes, someone else was calling the shots. Someone else was being fed information and asking questions back. But, they weren’t actually a part of the process themselves.
The different types of puppet and master
Then I realised, there are different types of puppet and master.
- The trusted aide. The person in front of you maybe lacks confidence in their financial planning and wants some support, but maybe didn’t feel it was appropriate to bring the other person along. Instead, they relay the information to the other person and receive advice and questions back from them.
- The decision maker and the money holder. At the other end of the spectrum, you might come across an example where the money might be in the name of the person sitting in front of you, but the decision maker hasn’t come along. Sometimes (because the money isn’t in their name) they feel it’s not their place, or maybe they just prefer to sit behind the scenes and pull the strings.
How to deal with the ‘puppet and master’
If you come across the ‘puppet and master’, there’s only really one way to deal with it. In a nutshell, you have to get the master there. Why? Because, you cannot do great financial planning work through an intermediary and you can’t do it by proxy.
But how do you get the master there? You deal with it by saying something like this:
“If you’re not the person who this is impacting, or who makes the decisions for your life, there’s no real value for me. It’s a bit like if I was a doctor – I wouldn’t try to examine you via a third party. So, I really need the decision maker to be here and involved.”
Because remember, you can’t do great financial planning with the puppet – you need the master.
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