The rule will never change; people do business with people they like, trust, and believe are competent. These three are the trifecta that together creates the space or, the matrix through which we serve our clients as we travel with them through life. “Trust issues” related to us as the advisor, however, are not what I’m exploring, but rather the client who has lost trust in either self, a loved one, or the investment world with all its opportunities to make and grow wealth.
Let’s start with the client who has lost trust in self. How well I remember sitting, more than 20 years ago, with an older individual who had achieved a high level of personal and professional success. He was a respected community leader with a curious mind, thriving business, a supportive and loving wife, and children who were academic standouts. But then the market changed, and the economy went through a slump that took a direct toll on his company and family. What for a couple of decades was easy money, suddenly became no money at all.
As I listened to him offload a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion, I asked myself, “What do I have to offer this man that could lift this burden and ease his pain?” But alas, no words of wisdom or visionary strategy crossed my then younger, less-experienced mind. He was helpless before the collapse of his business; I was helpless knowing the only gift I could give him was a listening ear and the promise of my presence.
In the financial services world, we advise clients who trust us, and others who believe the markets are “rigged” and that many in our business are “crooked.” And while they may have ample reasons for believing such things, how then do we address trust issues with integrity and candor while helping our clients make prudent decisions that keep their money working for them?
Now, let’s consider the client who has lost trust in a family member or close friend. You know the story: the lazy brother wants all the benefits of business ownership while his hard-working siblings do all the work. Or of the husband who confesses to his wife that he has gambled away a huge chunk of their family wealth. Or the young person who has witnessed the ugly underbelly of a respected leader they once thought walked on water.
In Part 2, I will suggest options for addressing these vexing issues. Until then, I’d love to know how you deal with trust issues with your family, friends, colleagues, and clients.