My primary residence in the mountains gives me quite a different perspective on the world in contrast to rush hour traffic and 8-story parking garages in large cities. I enjoy a sense of calm and the time to reflect, as I pursue simplicity and success. In contrast, on a recent trip to Miami, where I met with my financial advisor, I encountered the onslaught of metropolitan sights and sounds.
The purpose of my visit to the city was to review my accounts and discuss planning and investment strategies. I need to work with a financial advisor who understands and manages my money in alignment with who I am and where I want to be next while optimizing the performance of my accounts. In the past I have worked with advisors who wanted to do as they chose with my funds. What got in their way was “me,” the client. They seemed to forget that it isn’t their money they’re investing – it’s mine.
When we first sat down, I happily noted that the advisor had placed a copy of my book on the table. He had mentioned that he had enjoyed the book and wanted to talk about it. I thought: Maybe he really gets me. I was a bit perplexed that I did not see a copy ofThe Wright Exit Strategy, wealth, how to create it, keep it, and use it, by my friend Bruce Wright, since I had given my advisor that book, as well, but nonetheless I felt upbeat.
In general, my initial experience was very positive. We spoke about general subjects in the financial markets. I shared my concerns about the uncertainty in the world and described my values and some of the ways I look at life. For example, although I have a technical background in business, I believe in the value of intuition, inspiration and a spiritual perspective in our lives.
We discussed my income, investments and expenses – it was the most thorough budgeting method I had ever experienced. The questions covered all the areas of my finances: savings, investments categorized, and expenses projected over a very long life span. My advisor was giving me clarity and showing some alignment with my long-term concerns. Yet I felt major concern over his recommendation and insistence of positioning 30% of my portfolio in the stock market, even though I had strongly emphasized that I did not feel safe with this allocation.
By the time we finished, he had shown me several projection models. We never discussed my book, let alone Bruce Wright’s amazing book, nor did I have the opportunity to address concerns about my vision of what success and happiness mean to me. Even so, I was satisfied about the clarity I had received regarding the projection of my finances over the next 40 years. As I returned to my car, my enthusiasm about the meeting and my financial projections continued to grow.
In the following days, I received a few emails from the advisor clarifying the projections, but I felt uneasy; something important was missing. His focus was on discipline and efficiency, while I felt the need for greater flexibility. What about my personal values?What about my priority to have my investment strategies be in alignment with who, what and where I want to be next? How did his reports and summaries fit into and support the integrative approach of body, mind and spirit that I live by? How could I accomplish my personal goals while this financial plan did not focus on many of them? How could I work with someone who was recommending that I invest sizable assets into stock market equity as an overall investment strategy in spite of my strongly stated concerns against doing just that? What about my desire to place assets into real estate such as rental apartments?
The answer came easily. The statistical information did not take care of all the aspects that I require. Although my advisor is very good and has many great intellectual and valid approaches to planning, his methods rely on artificial intelligence to advance and project his client’s financial position. Did he really understand me, the individual client? I felt that he did not have what was essential to my macro strategic plan – a soulful understanding of me the client.
What followed was somewhat encouraging. Within a short time, I received an email from my financial advisor requesting a follow-up call to discuss my book. Taking interest in my book was a great start, for in it, I discuss the evolution of discovering and supporting a meaningful life with values and principles that take care of all people. But I felt my advisor needed to further understand me.
Jacob Barrocas’ book, Sustainable Success
I realized that my advisor probably needs to come pick blueberries with me on my peaceful mountain property. What do blueberries have to do with financial planning advice? Let me explain.
Toward the end of berry season, I noticed wild turkeys around my blueberry bushes. I thought I had picked the last of my blueberries for the year, yet these birds knew better. Grabbing a bag, I hurried out to see what was exciting them. As I approached the bushes, they scrambled off, and I noticed a few berries. I began picking, yet soon it appeared that there were no more. I noticed another cluster of berries nearby and continued this process, gathering a half-gallon of blueberries where I had thought there were none. My new harvest came as a result of observing the turkeys, then allowing my perspective to expand by taking small steps then looking again.
As perspective and positioning are essential for successful blueberry picking, so are they essential for financial and strategic life planning. An advisor who merely uses formulas is missing essential information. In order to optimize success and maximize results, he must expand his view by stretching his perception to be sure all issues are addressed. Advisors need to dispense financial advice to provide guidance as to how to attain and sustain the lifestyles clients desire. To be effective requires integrating many aspects, tools and strategies to optimize the clients’ strategic plans, or as my friend Bruce R. Wright would say – a Macro Strategic Plan, that includes left- and right-brain perspectives and disciplines. As he says, such a plan “creates true success in which you are where you want to be, doing what you want to do, when you want to do it and with the people you want around you”.
You have company if you feel confused and concerned about how your finances and money are being managed. There is often a huge disconnect between advisors and clients. Advisors want to be trusted by clients, yet clients do not easily trust their advisors’ understanding and perspective about their clients’ lives. Many advisors want to base relationships on market performance over the past decade, while many clients want to be sure they are understood and that all their blueberries are discovered and harvested.
Do yourself a service: request that your financial manager or advisor increase his or her perspective and understanding about “YOU.” An advisor who does not understand you cannot be expected to represent your best interests. Settle for nothing less.