A recent meeting with a client really brought it home to me the impact that we, as financial planners, can have on our clients. I made this client cry, yes really cry. But, don’t worry, it’s OK because they were happy tears. The sense of relief this lady felt that we could deal with her biggest worry (repaying a large debt) was palpable, and that’s what my job is really about. It’s about taking the worry out of money. It’s about providing real solutions to real problems in an easy to understand way (cashflow modelling helps with this, but that’s another article!).
We can talk technical solutions, taxation, asset allocation and fund performance to clients all day long, and ultimately, they pay us for our expertise. We’ve got the exams, the certificates, the letters after our names and the accreditations, but they don’t mean anything if the clients don’t see the outcomes they want and if we don’t provide a real and tangible service to them.
What really matters is the impact that we have; it’s the way we make them feel. We help them see what’s possible. We help them to realise their dreams and we help them to really get the most out of their money. Yes, our technical expertise helps, but ultimately clients just don’t want to have to worry.
These outcomes are great, but equally rewarding can be the harder situations. We’re there as a sounding board, someone to hold our clients’ hands, or to be a shoulder to cry on when the worst happens. Dealing with a client who died suddenly recently, being able to say to his wife and family that there was nothing urgent that they needed to deal with, to go away and concentrate on organising a funeral and to take time for grieving, means so much.
They’re safe in the knowledge that if there’s things that need to be done, they’ll be done, but if they can wait, we have a meeting scheduled for a couple of months and everything will be fine until then. But, equally, if she needs to run anything past me in the meantime, I’m here and available for her.
Sometimes the conversations we need to have aren’t always easy. Occasionally, we need to tell clients things they don’t want to hear that can be uncomfortable. One client told me he’d selected us because he felt that I would be strong with him. He thought that I would ‘tell him off’ when it was required, and needless to say, I’ve had to do it on numerous occasions! However, I’m worried I might be building a reputation for myself though, as another client called me her rottweiler – apparently it was a compliment around me being very protective of her!!
But this is what financial planning is about, it’s about the relationships we build with our clients and it’s about making money a less scary experience. That is why I love this job!