Thank you to those advisers and investors who gave me feedback on my last post. It is heart-warming to see so many advisers wanting to understand more about the 'real value' we offer our clients and how important it is to understand what emotional intelligence is and how we bring that knowledge to our client discussions.
I find that I cannot distil an adviser's value in a few words as I am often asked to do so. This is not a nebulous topic, hard to understand and implement, it is just about us, as professionals, offering a service that involves a unique relationship between the client and the adviser. A relationship that offers a connection, often emotional, always professional; one that offers a sympathetic listening ear to the story from each client; each one so different.
It is a relationship where the adviser's experience and knowledge offers solutions and a clearly defined path for the client to follow to achieve their pre-determined goals.
When I considered this more deeply, so that I could apply what I was learning about the client/adviser relationship, I found I was not engaging on a level that provided a secure footing for a long-term relationship. I was listening to the client story and what they wanted to achieve, then worked with the client to formulate strategies to reach those goals; but something was missing.
Each client whether young or old is asking us to provide advice on the investment of money, whether it is a large amount or a relatively small amount. The advice may be about budgeting so that small sums can be accumulated, or it may be advice on a large sum that has already been accumulated. What was missing was my clear understanding of where that money came from, I now spend time understanding the 'genesis' of my clients' money and can come as a result of; working hard over a long period of time, a property settlement resulting from a broken relationship, an insurance payout resulting from an accident or the death of a loved one, an inheritance, a redundancy payout, downsizing to a smaller home and much more.
So many different emotions depending on the source; how can I begin my client/adviser journey if I don't pause to understand and appreciate what the client feels as they discuss their need for advice?
Recently a couple sought my advice, he is retired and receives the single age pension, his wife is too young for the pension they had been surviving on his pension alone, with no nest-egg in a bank account; they have had to be frugal all their lives! They came to see me because they now had some money to invest and wanted advice on how to do this.
After a discussion about their goals and current situation, I asked where the money had come from. The wife's father had recently died and she had received an inheritance, so I asked her how he, her father, had been able to accumulate money so that he could leave her and her brother this wonderful bequest. She became very emotional as she told me her father's story. Briefly, he had been a truck driver, earning a small wage. It emerged he also had lived frugally, going without so that he could leave his children financially better off than he had been.
My client did not expect to have this discussion and appreciated that she could and her husband also came to appreciate just how 'precious' this gift was. As their adviser, I realised how real was my responsibility to educate this couple about investing, about asset classes, about the risks associated with investing and how to minimise these risks, but also to show them how they could enjoy their new financial comfort.
As our relationship has matured these clients have shared with me recently just how much they appreciated the fact that they could discuss where the 'money came from', they also appreciated that this had been acknowledged in their advice. That was the part of our journey they value the most!
Today, this need for respect is one of the cornerstones of my value and, while I have always understood where my clients' money has come from, I had never before acknowledged so openly the emotion that came with it i.e. the pride, the sorrow, the pain, the feeling of a job well done.
These clients will pass onto their children a bequest along with a story about its genesis. That is value.