“Clients want to be questioned about dreams and aspirations.”

Harjeet Heer is a Founding Director and Chartered Financial Planner at Logic Financial Services Ltd, based in Oxfordshire. He is a member of the IFW board as well as heading up its research stream, and brings a sense of calm to any meeting room or Zoom call. He has a keen interest in behavioural economics and financial wellbeing. He tells us how he balances his workaholic tendencies with the pleasures of family time, and how a natural curiosity about client aspirations led him to the IFW.

What’s your happiest memory?

Other than both my kids being born, and getting married (better put this in just in case the wife reads this), it would be a recent holiday. We went to Portugal with the kids just after lockdown, it was great to spend time together after a period of feeling like we would never leave the house, it made us appreciate the smaller things and each other. It was also the first time that we felt like we were on holiday with young adults rather than the kids. We had some lovely long lunches sat in the marina chatting about all sorts.

What one thing do you wish you’d been told about finance when you were 15?

It’s hard to pick just one, but if I had to it would be, start savings plans as soon as possible and be consistent. At that age, time is your friend.

What made you want to become a financial planner?

Like a lot of people I came in to industry by chance – I did a Biochemistry degree and medical research jobs for graduates did not pay very well. Around the same time I was invited to interview with a stock broking firm, I got the job and that was my first step in to financial services. I loved dealing with clients and talking to them about their goals (even though this was not part of my role as stockbroker). This eventually lead me to looking at financial planning.

What prompted you to join the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing?

I have always spent a lot of time talking to clients about their goals and aspirations, what makes them happy etc. and found that this is not all that common in the adviser community. So when the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing was launched it seemed to be a group for other advisers like me.

What drew you to financial wellbeing in the first place?

When I worked as an adviser in a bank I often met clients who had received advice in the past but they were no better educated on how what they had would help them achieve their goals. When I started to read up on how to best approach this it lead to what has since become known as financial wellbeing.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about financial wellbeing since joining?

So much. As part of my role for the IFW, as Head of Research, I have been very fortunate to be involved in the white papers we have published. One of the main points that came out from our paper on Adviser Competencies was that the most sought-after competency was trust. Trust is directly linked to effective communication skills – clients want to be questioned about dreams and aspirations. How well an adviser then identifies these aims directly links to how trusted they are. Unfortunately this is not something advisers are taught to do as part of becoming qualified, something I hope we can change through the IFW.

How has the way you work with clients changed since you joined?

I now have a first meeting where we talk solely about the client’s plans. There is very little talk about actual finances. Clients find this very useful as they have often never had to articulate what they are trying to achieve.

Who or what is your favourite wellbeing guru, podcast or book?

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A guide to Wealth and Happiness. Naval is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a modern philosopher. This book is a collection of some of his tweets and then his own thoughts around them. There are some great quotes in this book and it one to go back to again and again. Also it is available for free.

My favourite quote from it “People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.”

What are you doing to advance your own wellbeing?

As a married person with kids who runs his own business I can find my own wellbeing moving further and further down my to-do list. So a couple of years ago I agreed with my wife that once a year I would take an entire month off work and we would travel. Luckily, for the workaholic control freak in me, Covid stopped this happening for a few years, but this year I am off work for a month in summer and the plan is to not do any work.