I recently wrote about how clients of financial advisers can ask questions to test for conflicts of interest around their advice relationship. Reflecting on it since, my thoughts have now turned to exploring all the positive qualities that un-conflicted advisers can bring to their client engagements.
Doing this has taken me back to what it was that attracted me to financial planning as a profession in the first place (for those that don’t know me, I had another career before this one). I have always been fascinated by complex systems, enjoy problem solving and working with numbers. I also enjoy being someone who inhabits the space between the super-technical and the lay person and is able to bridge the gap between the two. The world of personal finance ticks all the boxes for me and I started along the road with the simple intent of helping people to make the most of their money.
My apprenticeship in financial planning had me witnessing first hand a lot of the behaviours that the Royal Commission on Banking is exposing and I wasn’t happy about it at all. As I moved from role to role and practice to practice, I was keeping a mental list of all the great things that financial planners do. I also kept another list of things that I would never do (either in my business or somebody else’s!).
Now in my own practice, when I sit down with a client or prospective client, I try to step into their world. They are the sole focus as we draw out their hopes and dreams and map out a path forward. This process of shared vision cannot be constrained or manipulated by a need for me to be paid. That must come into play only when we are working out whether or not it makes sense for us to continue to work together.
The challenge in doing it this way is that sometimes I spend time getting to know someone and then find myself referring them on. This is usually when I can’t offer value for money, or if they can be better assisted by a different type of organisation (such as a government agency). I know this is not good for “sales”, but it keeps me consistent with my values and focused on my own vision and goals.
When there is a good match in terms of client needs and my skills and preferences, it is a beautiful thing. There can be a true and transparent exchange of value.
For the client, the value may take many forms. For those who simply wish to outsource, it is one thing on their list that is being taken care of. For those who are bamboozled by the complexity of it all, there is the benefit of having an expert in their corner. For those that feel they lack discipline around their relationship with money, it is knowing that they have someone who is keeping them on the straight and narrow. For all clients there is the sense of empowerment that comes from choosing to take action.
For me, as well as the dollars, I also have the pleasure of a job well done and the enjoyment of satisfying client relationships.
It is the only way I want to do it.
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© Summation Strategies 2018.
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