The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the other day (March 22nd) down 700 points. Checking through my email, I saw that Julia had sent me an email. Paraphrasing, she said, "I'm freaking out. Should I be scared, or should I stop watching the news and the markets every day." You see, in her office, the news runs constantly in the waiting room. It's hard to ignore all those red arrows and talking heads. It's stressful.
Therefore, Julia is one of my favorite clients. That's her real name. She knows who she is, and she is reading this blog. So why is Julia one of my favorite clients? And more importantly, how can you too achieve such rarified status? Here are a few things you can do to be your advisors’ top client, irrespective of how rich or smart you are:
Read My Blogs
So far, you are one for one.
Tell me What’s on Your Mind
Every relationship needs communication. The healthier the communication the healthier the relationship. Without getting too sentimental, I adjure you to tell me what's on your mind. There are a couple reasons I need to know:
First, if you are feeling consumed by fear or greed, pessimism or optimism you are prone to bad decisions. One of the benefits of having a multitude of counselors is that we can keep you from making mistakes. Before you buy that timeshare, fax me the contract. Before you surrender that cash value life insurance policy, shoot me a quick email. Right after you win the lottery, call me, collect. Seriously.
Second, life events have an impact on your financial plan. Obviously, the birth of a child or a change of job makes a big difference. In fact, we must update your file when these things happen. But more importantly there are opportunities for you to maximize your outcomes if we can adjust your financial plan to accommodate the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Even the mundane or the insignificant can at the very least provide your advisor with insight on what's important to you and why. The truth is we are often teachers and not the best listeners. It takes us awhile to get to know you.
Finally, I sit here in my office, looking at this screen. It gets lonely. One of the highlights of my day is when I hear of that promotion at work, closing on your first house or your recent marriage in Las Vegas. I even welcome the bad news: the downsizing at work, the doctor's diagnosis, or the loss of a parent. I need to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Living life vicariously through you is my favorite part of this job. It becomes more of a job, something special, almost sacred.
Open Your Mind
Thank you for your trust. When you became a client, you did so on the introduction of an existing client and limited interaction with me. You placed on the friend who introduced us. We met two or three times and you took the leap of faith and signed the paperwork to be a client.
I'd like to build that trust over time. One of the ways I do that is by teaching you what I know about the way money works. That's why I'm committed to this blog. It's a way for me to explain financial planning principles in my own voice. The more you know the more the decision we make together have clarity. When we meet and talk about your financial plan, I want you to leave that visit with a larger, more detailed map of the journey ahead.
The other reason is that we need to unlearn a few things. You've heard me expound on the hidden weaknesses of conventional wisdom ad nauseum: modern portfolio theory, target-date funds, buy and hold, life insurance, et al. You see, there's no perfect financial product or strategy. It's all a compromise of features and benefits, risks and rewards. So, open your mind to let new ideas in and some old ones out.
Mind the Gap
Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we don't get back to you as soon as we should. Sometimes we misunderstand your real priorities. Sometimes we're impatient and bossy. We're human. And by we, I mean me. Your patience and understanding as we make this journey together means the world to me. Make no mistake, I realize you can take your relationship elsewhere. And I realize that I must earn your business every day.
On the other hand, sometimes I offer heroic levels of service. Sometimes I burn the midnight oil to take care of an urgent and pressing need. Sometimes I take an extra hour of my day to talk you off the ledge. Sometimes that “aha” moment occurs in our annual review and you can feel the weight of retirement turn into a golf cart in The Villages. When that happens, consider those less fortunate than you. Don’t let them slip through the cracks. Assuming they are as awesome as you are, let’s find a way to introduce me and see if we can help your co-workers, friends and family.
Minding Our Manners
Obviously, you don't lay at wake at night wondering if you are in your advisor's top ten favorite clients. If you know me, you'll take this missive as both tongue-in-cheek and helpful. You see, we lay awake at night trying to figure out how to be your favorite financial planner. We want to make sure that we communicate well. We aim to continually learn our craft and learn our clients. We strive to dot every "i" and cross every "t".
Let me say thank you for letting us share in this journey. If you’d like to learn more about how we help our clients, click here.