Here’s what Dan Pink Can Teach Us about the Future of Financial Planning (with Lights)


Have you ever wished you could peer inside the mind of one of the greatest writers in the world and find out exactly how he sees the future of our financial planning profession?

Well… here’s your chance.

Dan Pink has published 5 books, all of them bestsellers. His books have been translated into 35 languages and have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, making him one of the best selling writers in the world.

And now he’s going to tell you exactly what to do to succeed in the future.

Sort of.

In 2006, Pink wrote his first bestseller A Whole New Mind, a scientific-based book chronicling how to succeed in the ever changing future where automation, technology and robo-advisors seem to rule the world. Since then, it’s become a wildly popular book, pulling in over almost 1000 reviews on Amazon and selling God only knows how many copies.

Here’s why:

The book is… visionary.

I’ve listened and read A Whole New Mind from cover to cover at least six times, and each time, I experienced a brighter and clearer vision for the future of our financial planning profession.

As you read through Pink’s vision, you can’t help but see that, to him, our future isn’t about technology, analytical reasoning or logical thinking. Instead, our future is about seemingly ‘touchy-feely’ aptitudes like design, empathy, story, meaning and symphony.

And it’s refreshing.

You can’t read A Whole New Mind and not come away with a vision of our future as financial planners. Where most “financial books” are focused on the mechanics of our profession, Pink shows you the power of the “human part” of our profession.

Personally, it’s inspired me more than any other book I’ve ever read, and if I could recommend only one book to financial planners, A Whole New Mind would be it. But don’t take my word for it. Below, I’ve collected a list of my favorite quotes from the book, and some thoughts on exactly how they apply to financial planners.

Here are the quotes:

#1. “We are moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age.”


Think about our profession 30 years ago.

Can you think of the real reason professionals like financial advisors almost always had guaranteed success and a decent living?

Well, it’s actually very simple.

It’s because you could benefit from your brain.

You could benefit from your brain because you had this information advantage. You see, back then, knowledge and information was scarce, so if people wanted (financial) information, they had to pay someone to get that information.

Now fast forward to 2016.

Compared to 30 years ago, there has been a major shift in the supply of knowledge and information.

Nowadays, because of Google, knowledge and information has become a commodity.

And mostly this information is free. And if it isn’t free, it’s cheap!

That’s why Pink says this is reshaping our work. As people self-diagnose, tap the same reservoir of information as financial planners, and use the same online inexpensive advice services, a financial planner’s role has been transformed.

Away from knowledge, analytical and information-based ‘left-brain-work’. Toward social, and people-based ‘right-brain-work’.

Or as Pink says:

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.

Which means that in the future, we won’t stand out because of our outstanding analytical qualities.

In fact …

#2. “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind”


Do you remember what happened here in this pic?

Back in 1997, for the first time in history, one of our most brilliant human minds was defeated by an IBM supercomputer named “Deep Blue”.

Grand chess master Gary Kasparov, was publicly defeated by a machine.

And this moment was actually a milestone.

Because since 1997, technology, internet and automation has had an enormous impact on our profession as financial planners. Nowadays there are robo-advisors like Betterment, Wealthfront, iQuantify, Personal Capital and dozens and dozens of other tech-firms.

And I believe those robo-advisors are here to stay.

And I also believe it’s a marvellous thing. Robo-advisors are a marvellous thing for people who can’t afford a financial planner. Or for people who simply don’t trust our industry.

That’s why I believe it’s crucial to be immensely trustworthy.

And being trustworthy is about designation, knowledge, and your skills. But it’s also about simply being human.


Because automation simply can’t provide what a human being can. Human beings have eyes to communicate, ears to listen. And we trust a person who listens.

That’s why it’s so important to strengthen your capacity to truly listen to what your clients want.

Which is in fact your #1 advantage over any other digital competitor.


#3 “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”


Empathy is the ability to ride in another person’s skin.

Which is something robots, computers and your digital competitors CAN NOT do.


Clicking a website is often a transfer of information. Meeting a financial planner face to face is often a transfer of emotion.

It’s not just the words you say. Not at all.

It’s the person delivering the words.

To make an impact, there has to be a human connection.

You can give the most brilliant pitch, with crystal-clear financial explanations and laser-sharp logic, but if you don’t first connect with your audience, it just won’t land.

#4. “In a world of abundance, you’ll get your profits out of significance, rather than utility”


Let’s do a little test.

How many cars do you own?

Is it one, two or even more?

If you own two or more cars, this reflects what’s going on in the Western world. Because right now there are more cars than licensed drivers…

Now, think back 30 or 40 years and consider the number of cars back then. No need to explain, right?

That’s what I mean by abundance.

And abundance, according to Dan Pink has one important consequence:

In a world of abundance you’ll get your margin out of significance rather than utility

Last summer we celebrated the 7th birthday of my daughter Sanne. And as a surprise we bought her a pair of shoes. And these weren’t normal shoes.

These were shoes with lights!


Now, why did we gave her these shoes?

  • Was it because she didn’t have shoes? No, I think Sanne has about 3 or 4 pairs of shoes.
  • Was it because she needed shoes with lightsWell, no, of course not! That would be ridiculous.

The reason we gave her these shoes was because of its significance. We gave her these shoes because Sanne would be thrilled about these shoes. She’d have fun when walking in these shoes in the dark.

What happened here, is that we gave her these shoes because it would be fun. And not because of utility (which was unthinkable 30 years ago).

Now, let’s think about your financial planning service and its utility for a minute.

The problem with financial planning is that almost no one understands the utility of financial planning, because financial planning is an intangible, invisible service with no guaranteed outcomes.

Therefore it’s almost impossible to show the utility of our service.


Well, because there isn’t any utilitarian about financial planning.

That’s why Dan Pink argues, we should ask ourselves the following question to succeed in this ever-changing future:

Are you offering a service that satisfies a non-material transcendent desire?

Or in other words:

Are you offering a financial planning service with lights?

Are You Ready to Become Significant?

The reason most financial planners are struggling isn’t a lack of talent or smarts or technical know-how. It’s a refusal to take what they do seriously. They don’t believe their service can be anything, so they never put in the work to make it anything.

But you’re going to be different, right?

You’re going to commit yourself to matter to your audience, right?

You’d better.

Let’s make financial planning matter,


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