My family has welcomed a new baby to this world, a lovely little girl. I just love what babies do for people; babies make us smile and forget our cares for a few moments and prompt us to alter our perspectives on life. My great-niece was very fussy the other night at a family gathering. Her Mom tried alternately feeding and burping her and then we all took turns walking the floors with her, rocking, shushing, singing, changing the room she was in, changing her diaper and clothes. Since babies cannot communicate – aside from crying – what exactly they want or need, we caretakers must go through a list of possible causes of the distress. It turns out the poor little dear was exhausted; she finally (although reluctantly) fell asleep.
This episode got me thinking about the fact that, even though we adults may have the tools to communicate what it is that’s troubling us, we may not be able to identify our wants and needs; this makes it much harder to find solutions.
All service industries survive and thrive based on their ability to listen to what the customer wants, and then provide it, preferably at a profit. The trouble is, the customer may not know what s/he wants. This is when we have to put on our Mommy/Daddy hats and go through a list of possible causes/wants/needs to see if we have what it takes to satisfy the customer. I spend most of my time listening to what people want out of life (such as a comfortable retirement, money to send their kids to college, annual vacations, a new home etc…) and then using my financial expertise to make it happen. There have been many occasions, however, when I’ve had a client in my office who is not clear what it is s/he wants out of life.
I recognized this problem some years’ ago and have since have developed a unique discovery tool that helps my clients identify what is important to them (retirement means different things to different people, after all) while also helping them gain self-knowledge about his/her/their values, beliefs and behaviors so that when I’m analyzing their financial situation, I can consider these fine points and customize my recommendations based on them. This process takes a lot of time, but, just like parenting, is a journey more than a destination.
Sometimes, just like babies, people just need to be cared for, comforted, and told “Everything will be okay.”.
You are doing a great job for your clients by really integrating the financial life planning process so well into your practice..
Your clients are lucky to have you as their advisor!