Running with a blindfold on!



Picture this. Your best friend is stood at the start of an obstacle course. It’s a long, complex course… and between them and the finish line, lie a multitude of obstacles that they must carefully: negotiate; climb over; crawl under; and cross using ropes and ladders.

Not only is the course going to be a physical effort, it’s going to be a mental challenge as well. Trying to figure out the most efficient way to a successful completion of the course.

But there’s a snag! Your friend has to complete the whole course blindfolded.

Luckily, although they have to actually do the hard work of finishing the course, you are there to guide them. How well they deal with the obstacles? Will they be able to climb, crawl, or swing from rope ladders?

You hope they will be able to complete the course, but there is no guarantee that, even with you talking them through a route to success, they will stick with it.

This ‘assault course’ has been one of my go-to analogies when I talk at conferences to describe the role of the financial planner, the client, and the part that behaviour coaching can play.


Financial planning with a blindfold on


Financial planners provide clients with their financial plan, with a clear focus on achieving their goals, their aspirations, their financial dreams.

Exactly like the assault course, throughout this journey, people will face a series of difficulties that have to be negotiated in order to achieve their particular aim. Incidentally, the highlighted statement is the dictionary definition of “assault course”, yet could so easily be a description used in financial planning.

There is a way of negotiating the course which is more likely to succeed. Of keeping people on the path to success.

You have to remove the blindfold!


Understanding behaviours


In relation to financial planning, the blindfold represents not having an understanding of our underlying, subconscious behavioural traits.

This, and not knowing how to apply insights gathered from learning about people’s behaviours, means that clients are going through their financial lives with their eyes covered, tripping up at every obstacle that comes their way.

They struggle to climb up the cargo net, focussing too much on how they feel in the moment, much like Present Bias.

They become fearful of crawling through the dark tunnel where they can’t see the end, similar to Ambiguity Effect.

They are petrified when they have to walk over the thin rope bridge, and may fall, which is a form of Risk Aversion.

Everything seems to take a lot longer, and is a lot harder than they’d initially thought, a fault of the Planning Fallacy.

These fears fill them with anxieties and worries that often lead them to reach the conclusion that there is no way they can complete the course.

Knowing up-front about their underlying behaviours, their fears, their anxieties, not only removes the blindfold, it also refines the map, providing crucial assistance along their journey, helping them stay the course.

I think it’s time, as an industry, we start to remove all the blindfolds that exist, and give people the best possible chance at successfully negotiating the difficulties they will face along the course.

At the end of the day, and as Chris Budd states in his Financial Wellbeing book, this is what financial wellbeing is all about… a clear path to achievable objectives. Let’s bring behavioural coaching and behavioural insights firmly into the process, and then we can absolutely focus on delivering that!

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