Clients are family. This is a truism in my profession as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. When a client walks into my office, every aspect of their life is on the table – not just their portfolio. That’s because clients are people, and people have complicated lives that extend far beyond money matters.
Many people are surprised by how much of that complexity people share with their financial advisors. Throughout my career, I have worked with entrepreneurs that have sold their business and are looking for what’s next. I have worked with widows who were afraid to spend their money. I have worked with couples expecting a new grandchild. And, every client I have ever worked with has told me what they want from their future. Period.
Because we are helping people plan for a new phase of life (retirement), we talk about life stuff. Frequent topics include career or business updates, issues with familial conflict, a catch up on familial harmony, and the client’s hopes and dreams for the future.
Much of what I do, in addition to financial counseling, falls in the realm of life counseling. The conversation could start out about the client’s wealth. But we inevitably touch on the changes and fears in their life, financial and otherwise.
Maybe a client has lost a spouse – whether through their passing or because of a divorce – and they’re afraid. We talk about their marriage, their family, their fears and their life moving forward.
Sometimes parents have an adult child that has failed to launch, and who’s still siphoning money from mom and dad. Or, there may be another relative who’s always in need of “just one more loan.”
While these situations don’t happen every day, they are by no means an anomaly. Clients have questions about what to do with their finances “if….” And the “if” could be any important potential life event, situation or eventuality.
Often, the conversations take on a much more positive nature. I love talking to my clients about vacations, second homes, and how their grandkids are doing in school. This is all part of a holistic process.
So, when I take on a new client, I understand that I am going to get to know that person very well. And it’s one of my favorite parts about what I do.
Sometimes my role is just to be a listener. Other times, my job is to act as a guide or a voice of reason or support. It’s different with every client, and that’s part of what I love about these meetings and my profession.