The DOL Gift, Part 1

For the last 18 or so months, much has been written about the new Department of Labor (DOL) “fiduciary standard” that will soon be required for those working with retirement accounts in the financial services industry. No longer will a financial advisor be able to make recommendations that are only “suitable,” but rather all advice must be in the client’s “best interests.” This fiduciary standard rule will require more transparency regarding fees, how investment advice …

Your Number One Resolution for 2017

The singular focus of this blog centers on becoming more aware of ways we can connect with clients when life is challenging. Issues like divorce, loss of employment, chronic or terminal illness, family challenges, and scores of other issues all elbow their way into our practice. And when they do, how do we respond? That said, the last impression I want you to have about my approach to all the above is the suggestion that …

‘Tis the Season

It took a bit of coaxing and patience, but three weeks ago, Kathie and I received “Santa’s List” from our grandchildren’s parents.  Gift lists look different than what we once scribbled on dog-eared index cards.  With our family, the parents created an on-line document they shared with the in-laws, aunts, uncles, and yes, the grandparents noting the specifics of what our crown jewels want.  It couldn’t be any easier.  With “Deck the Halls” droning “tis …

The Holiday Blues

With the holidays upon us, we in the financial services business are wrapping up what has been a stellar year in the markets. We have seen double-digit gains in equities indices while managing a difficult fixed income environment. 2016 will be remembered always for the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President after a contentious and often ugly campaign. Some of our clients come to the end of the year with more blessings and …

THE POWER OF PERMISSION

You would think that working with and being around adults most of the time would free us from needing to ask anyone for permission to do anything. With maturity comes autonomy, with autonomy more responsibility, and with both of those, a sense of self-actualization that is freeing, right? Maybe not. Several years ago, a new client stopped by the office to sign a couple of forms. He had, some two years earlier, bid a tough, …

Connecting with Stories

The pressure to develop new clients always stares us in the face—normally on Monday morning!  As the manager who hired me wisely taught, “new relationships are oxygen to your business.”  We all know it and yet the vast majority of advisors in our firm and all firms have zero—that’s 0, nada, no—net growth in any given year.   The temptation on a call is to create quick rapport, keeping the other person on the phone, …

The Pause

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a conversation. But, with our national election over, Thanksgiving in the books, and the December holiday season staring us in the face, I realized the wisdom of catching my breath in these waning days of 2016.  Call it a pause, a break, a halftime moment to look back, look forward, and look inward. In all candor, on any given day of the week, all of us are …

Are You Safe?

Having a conversation with another person, a give-and-take, back-and-forth exchange that is engaging and genuine is a beautiful thing.  The opposite is just as true: attempting a conversation with a guarded, less-than-transparent person is frustrating, close to impossible. Successful advisors are students of conversational dynamics. One aspect of the art form is diagnosing a client who may be unable to be transparent with information vital to your work with them.  Why?  What keeps us from …

“Think” or “Feel”

Restaurant owners know what a “reefer” is, but perhaps it’s a new word to you – unless you grew up in the 1960’s.  Back in—when I was a teenager—a “reefer” transitioned to a “joint”—think Colorado–but I digress.  For those in the food business, a “reefer” is a climate controlled, movable trolley with shelving on which perishable foodstuffs are transported from the distributor to the restaurant.  When the truck off loads the raw material for tonight’s …

Noise

The agenda set for a client meeting is predictable: Anything changed since we last met?  Review of recent quarter or the past 6 or 12 months.  Re-visit the asset allocation.  Any recommended changes?  “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 numbers, people are hearing more voices outside a conversation than any one …