The new DOL rule gives a second gift that celebrates community more than it creates reams of transactions. The client-facing professions of finance, law, accounting, and insurance have an elephant in the room few are willing to name and discuss. We earn our living by the fees we charge clients for our services. In past years, the stock broker lived and died by the number of trades in a day. Lawyers and accountants are famous for billable hours. Insurance agents earn commissions.
The DOL rule does not sidestep the need for everyone who offers a service to the public to earn a living. And yes, the more specialized one’s craft, the more one should expect to earn. But what advisors have been slow to adopt is the need to place care, discovery, relationship building and bonding, active listening, and being warmly present to others as the engine that pulls the train. The fiduciary standard is an authentic complement to advisory work built on a relational, bonding foundation.
Creating and sustaining community is what makes any civic club, faith congregation, or business partnership viable. For example, I am a Rotarian. As a polio survivor, Rotary’s leadership in eradicating this pernicious virus from the world has been a powerful reason to stay affiliated with the organization for almost 30 years. But what keeps me bonded to this large international charity is the fellowship and friendship found in members of my club. Whether you look to a golf foursome, a bridge club, a fraternity or sorority, or an affinity group who enjoy a shared hobby, the feeling of community keeps human beings networked with each other.
The most important business relationships we have, ties that affect how we structure our family finances, estate planning, and all manner of risk management, cry out for advisors who create a feeling of community in client engagement. Those who choose community will discover within their practice a depth of professional satisfaction no level of compensation will ever touch. In Part 3, I will take this idea one step further in sharing what it means for an advisor to sit on the same side of the table with the client. Until then, I’d love to know how you create community in your engagements.