First Time Last Time

When one thinks of great orchestral conductors, the names of Toscanini, Bernstein, Ormandy, Levine, and Szell only begin the list. We all have our favorites. A name on my top 10 would include the late Robert Shaw. His ascendancy to the podium as music director and conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra changed that institution forever. He was without peer, celebrated as much for his prowess as a choral conductor as for his command of …

Acceptance

I write today on a personal note reflecting on the powerful word “acceptance.”  Like many if not most of you know, I am a polio survivor who was 13 months of age when that virus invaded my body. I was one of the lucky ones; only my left leg bears witness to the after effects of its assault. But, in the aftermath of polio, I became a pianist, a husband, father, minister, and now advisor. …

Acknowledging Noise

The agenda set for a client meeting is predictable: Anything changed since we last met? Is there anything that keeps you up at night? Review the account. Re-visit past and current recommendations? Is there anything else? “Good to visit with you. See you next week at the symphony gala,” etc., etc. I deeply believe that no matter the client, the day of the week, or the statement numbers, people are hearing more voices outside a …

Being in Role

Actors make their living taking on the personality, mannerisms, attitudes, and voice of the character they portray at the time. In one movie, Leonardo DiCaprio is a doomed hand on the Titanic and in another, Howard Hughes. Helen Mirren is the Queen on film in one year and Cleopatra on stage in another. Being in role is how actors make their living. In much the same way, our role as professionals is vital to being …

Choose Happy!

Golfing legend Gary Player often tells an audience his secret to positive, purposeful living. Says Player: “Every morning when I get up, I look in the mirror and say to myself, ‘Gary, today you can be happy, or you can be miserable.’ I choose happy!” What about you? What if your whole day—maybe your life—depends on the choice we make and which choice the client in front us made earlier in the day. What are …

Client Loneliness

My guess is that your practice may include single, widowed, and divorced individuals. The numbers are telling: single adults in the United States now comprise slightly more than half the adult population. That number is growing.  For younger adults, being single poses unique challenges. My under-40 single friends and family members tell me that finding a social, spiritual, or leisure affinity with peers is anything but easy. Social media promises instant community. Finding that community …

Adult Children Challenges

Far more than any advisor is comfortable admitting, we serve senior clients who have challenges with their adult children. Just imagine; the adult children I’m talking about are Baby Boomers with kids of their own!  When one of these senior clients calls with a problem concerning their “children,” I listen. I say, “Let me think about that and get back to you in the next couple of days.” I call back, gather more information, and …

On Being Judgeable

We are professionals in a highly people-centric, story-shaped, often misunderstood business. My experience bears witness to a public that imagines financial advisors are primarily stock traders and CPAs who spend entire careers only crunching numbers. To move beyond these errant images demands a focused commitment to becoming more, not less, judgeable, likable, engaging, and yes compassionate. I continue to benefit from the work of Columbia business professor Heidi Halvorsen, author of No One Understands You …

Expressing Condolences

Some months back, I came across an article in The New York Times by Bruce Feiler titled “The Art of Condolence.” I have written about this topic here before, but he had me re-thinking it, remembering how important it is for advisors to get this right as we reach out to clients going through loss. The article identifies seven bullets to keep in mind when we express condolence.  Of the seven, three bubbled to the …

Advising Couples Toward Retirement

I came across an online Forbes article by Robert Laura titled “When Couples Argue About Retirement” that snagged my imagination. The 2015 article shares links to a starting-point questionnaire. That instrument has both partners answering retirement lifestyles and time management questions. Other open-ended questions focus on mortality, values, and family. In the article, Laura raises an issue that, for most of us, is the elephant in the room when we talk with clients about retirement …