Earlier this month I had two meaningful events happen in my life. First, I walked my only daughter down the aisle and entrusted her life and well-being to someone other than myself. A week before that, my wife and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Two very significant events. One, a celebration of the “beginning” of a beautiful, strong relationship and the other the “continuation” of something that will continue to grow and be wonderful for many more years.
Some of you may be thinking this month’s blog will haves omething to do about me giving advice to my newly wedded daughter and son-in-law. This is correct, but there is more to it.
I will share advice but not only to the newly-weds. I would like to make a few comparisons and direct my attention to you, dear advisor, and your relationship with your clients.
Like a good marriage, your relationship with your client requires many of the same elements to be successful for years to come. Some of it more mechanical or financial in nature, some of it more philosophical in thought and design.
Rather than giving cliché` financial advice, I’d like to talk about a few things that I consider to be one of the most important elements to ALL things successful in life.
Communication is king. It is imperative that we communicate to have a successful relationship personally and professionally. One of the complaints I hear most often from clients is that they never hear from their advisor. If we are not communicating, we are not growing. It is easy to celebrate and share the good times and major “wins” in our lives, but we must also be thereto answer the tough questions and sometimes be strong enough to explain why some things aren’t on the “right track” at the moment. But, we always communicate the plan to bring things back in line. Honesty is the best policy. We need to discuss our wants, needs and expectations.
Compatibility and Values need to be given the importance they each deserve. Every good relationship starts with an element of common ground. We are all different in many ways but what do we have in common? Although we have differences, do these differences balance each other out and work well together? Sharing the same goals, values, wants and needs acts as the binding glue in all good relationships. Before a couple can become a couple, there has to be compatibility. It is quickly realized if this isn’t the case and usually,they go their separate ways. Before an advisor and client can build their relationship, there also needs to be compatibility. Sometimes personalities just don’t mesh, at that is okay. The important thing is to be able to recognize it and act accordingly. Sharing the same values is just as important as compatibility. In fact, the two-go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
Appreciation and mutual respect go a long way in creating he trust that ultimately holds a relationship together. We know a marriage isn’t solid without trust. As an advisor, you also know trust is really all you have to keep your client coming back to see YOU. Not all clients are created equal, but you should always have some level of appreciation and respect for each one. After all, they have entrusted to you one of the most important things in their life, their financial future; effectively their family.
Time and commitment are sometimes elusive but very important when building and maintaining a healthy relationship. Our new couple needs quality time spent with one another to begin a solid foundation for their future. They must commit to one another in a way they never have before; a real commitment to someone else. Much of the same can be said between an advisor and his client. They want your time to discuss their successes, concerns and answer their questions. This is when you share with them the time you have spent in creating a great portfolio and plan, just for them. They will grow to understand the time and commitment you have invested in their success. Be sure to commit to each of your clients the attention they deserve. At times, some will need more time and attention than others, but your efforts will always be noticed when it matters most.
Financially, I say to our new couple, invest in your 401K,put a portion of your paycheck into savings every month, and create a budget. Not only live within your means but below and don’t rack up credit card debt. These are all valid points and building blocks to having a successful balance sheet when planning a successful roadmap to financial freedom; typical advice given to clients by advisors on a daily basis.
On a side note, it wasn’t that long ago I can remember our daughter telling my wife that she was “not too sure about this adulting thing”. My how things change quickly!