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By Samantha Russell Outreach

How Virtual Reality Will Change Financial Planning

7 minute read
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Today’s Guest Post is Written by Dave Grant, CFP®. Dave is the founder of Finance for Teachers, a planning firm, and the Finance for Teachers Network, in Cary, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners. Follow him on Twitter at @davegrant82.

The way in which we interact with video games and alternate realities has changed. With the release of powerful virtual reality (VR) headsets and cases that turn cell phones into VR capable machines, a new way of consuming and interacting with media is now being unleashed.

But what does this have to do with financial planning?

Nothing now, but in the future – everything.

Imagine a meeting taking place 10-20 years in the future. The initial process will be the same – “getting to know you” meeting, goal discovery and then a discussion of how a client’s situation might play out in the future.

But what if a client could interact with their projected future life?


Planner (in plan presentation meeting): “Thanks for working with me to create your financial plan. Based on what you’ve told you’d like to achieve and your current situation, I’d like to show you what your future might look like.”

(Notice it wasn’t “let’s discuss your future”, it turned into “show you […] your future”).

At this point, each client puts on their headset and finds themselves in a house.

Planner: “Based on what you told me, this will be your retirement home and if you look out the window, you can see the lake. Your boat is out there – do you see the tube on the back – and both of your desired cars can be seen out of the window to your right.”

Both clients can interact with their dream home, look out the window, examine their surroundings and determine if this is the life they want.

Planner: “Outside, you’ll hear your grandchildren playing, as this is the month where you take them up to the lake to spend time together. But let’s look at other parts of your retirement.”

The planner will then adjust his computer model and take them through various goal scenarios that they have laid out – travel, seeing family, volunteering, gardening, etc. It’s at this point that a client will not only see if their retirement is achievable, but they can also understand if it meets their expectations.f

But a more powerful scenario will be when a plan is not successful and a client’s goals are unachievable should adjustments not be made.

Planner: “So given your current situation, we’re in a new house and you’ll notice it’s smaller than the one you had outlined to me. It’s not in a great neighborhood – you’ll see that by looking out the window – but it’s what you can afford with the money you have saved.”

The planner will then take them on a trip – not internationally like the client hoped – but to the nearest town to stay at a bed & breakfast. He’ll be able to fast forward through their retirement and show them how they’ll run out of money in their prime years and their pantry will sparse. It will show a Medicare-run nursing home, not a private-one like they had desired, and a challenging time as they get older due to lack of funds.


In coming out of this virtual reality, a planner can explore the emotions a client felt these scenarios and show them different scenarios tied to subsequent changes they can make now to their financial plan.

By interacting with their future life and seeing an immediate impact to their future quality of life, I believe client’s will be quick to act in changing their current behavior, living on less, and purchasing necessary insurances to prevent any discomfort they may be subject to in the future.

As financial planners, our main job is to educate clients on their situation and what may be to come, and encourage them to change their behavior to bring about an optimal outcome. With the help of being able to see the (VR) future, I think behavior changes will happen swiftly and without hesitation.

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Dave Grant, CFP® is founder of Finance for Teachers, a planning firm, and the Finance for Teachers Network, in Cary, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners. Follow him on Twitter at @davegrant82.