Recently I attended a Social Media debate, and was fortunate to speak with another attendee that was a professional Interior Designer. After a short while I realized that many of her best ideas could translate well with Financial Advisors. I was very interested in finding out just how this professional differentiated herself from her competition – so I pressed on.
She laughed out loud when sharing with me that most of the less experienced Interior Designers she meets almost always begin a conversation by asking the prospective client their price range. While I didn’t necessarily think that this question was all that ridiculous, she took me to task and emphasized that people design and re-design their homes and environment for more important reasons than price. She said that you always have a more satisfied client when you identify the right creative design that satisfies their inner most desires, rather than just their pocket books. Of course they want to stay within budget, but they also what an end product that reflects their tastes and values. She went on to show me the checklist that she has perspective clients complete. She asks her clients to place a number next to each value they place on a design style. This approach, exploring a person’s values before exploring the design books, acknowledges that people have different priorities – depending on the stage of life they’re in, their experiences, their age, etc.
I’ve often wondered why people choose certain Financial Advisors. Most times they’re not truly Financial Advisors, but insurance professionals or stockbrokers. I do emphasize with them that there is a big difference in the fiduciary standard that a Financial Planner working for a Registered Investment Advisor must adhere to rather than the overly simplified “suitability” standard utilized by Stockbrokers that basically just want to sell you their products. Financial Planners employed by a Registered Investment Advisor must according to the Securities Exchange Commission put their client’s interests above and beyond everything else – even their own. It’s not always an easy question to ask, but more often than not they’re ready to offer that he/she’s a relative, or a neighbor. I realize that most would not know how to articulate the Financial Life Planning Values that are most important to them in a relationship with a Financial Advisor. That’s why I share a Financial Life Planning Questionnaire with them before we begin a relationship. And, I don’t just let them take the forms home, oh no, we’re going to fill them out right than and there.
I believe that most clients will share many of the same values regarding financial planning as their advisor. When it comes specifically to what each client values in his or her advisor, I don’t think that we can assume or prognosticate. Unless you have some sort of sixth sense it would be very wise to inquire. Allow your clients to tell you what’s important in the advice that they’re seeking. At the end of the day it’s their money – the common denominator being the value of money.
Author’s Note: Please consult with your CFP®, Financial Advisor, CPA and/or Estate/Tax/Eldercare Attorney when discussing your financial needs and developing the appropriate personal/business financial plan.
John Politi is a Financial Advisor with Main Street Financial Solutions located in Harrison, NY. John provides comprehensive and customized, Fee-Based financial planning, consultation and investment advisory services for individuals, families and businesses. Since 2011, John has volunteered his time as the Executive Director of the New York City-based Jewelers for Veterans Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to connecting US Military Veterans with training, education & employment in the jewelry industry. John holds an MBA in Financial Management, MBA-Advanced Certificate in Health Care Management, Series 65 (Investment Advisor Representative), and successfully completed the Financial Planning Certificate Program at the Lubin School of Business, Pace University. He is a Board Director for the Financial Planning Association-Greater Hudson Valley, NY, an active member of the American College of Health Care Executives, and the 24KT Club of New York. John welcomes your input and can be contacted at, firstname.lastname@example.org , or telephone (914) – 517-7574, facsimile (914) 517-7577.