These past few weeks our firm has been hard at work on some new aspects of the client experience we’re hoping to launch in this next year. A significant portion of our conversations during these strategic meetings revolve around ways we can increase the value we add. With those conversations in mind, I recently came across an interview on the CFA’s Enterprising Investor blog with researcher Anne Cabot-Alletzhauser on the topic of trust and how advisors can go the extra mile to add value (you can read the full interview here). In the interview, Ms. MsCabot-Alletzhauser talks about how a big part of providing value is setting clear and realistic expectations about what can be achieved from the client-advisor relationship.
One of the big questions we ask prospective clients during an introductory meeting is “what are your goals?” Contrary to the traditional approach of selling different strategies or investment ideas, we believe that focusing on what you’re trying to accomplish provides a much clearer, achievable objective. As Ms. Cabot-Alletzhauser puts it, “We have, for historical reasons, been so totally focused on the returns game that we have been negligent in helping our clients get a real handle on what can and cannot be achieved and what the scope of potential value could be.” The wealth management industry has in the past focused solely on chasing returns but has failed to recognize the importance of linking returns to client needs. As a result, many individuals have found their life savings invested in volatile vehicles, leaving them feeling anxious, apprehensive, and in some cases, downright fearful of the markets. As advisors, we want to change the narrative. Not only do we want to add value from an investing standpoint, we want to add value in the form of peace and contentedness and we believe this starts with having a clearly laid out plan.
If you invest with us you know that every decision we make comes back to the plan. Should you take more risk? Let’s see what that does to the plan. Can you draw extra or retire early? Let’s look at the plan. This approach sets a much better expectation for what you’ll get when you work with us. We’re not going to trade you in and out of investments, wreaking havoc on your emotional capacity to handle risk in the process. Instead, we believe in taking a much steadier approach. We want to be consistently adding value to everything we do. Not only does this include the more traditional approach of thoroughly vetting our investments and doing our due diligence when it comes to our investment strategies, but it also means doing everything we can to care for your entire financial situation. For us this includes staying up to date on changes in relevant laws and regulations, seeking efficiency in every aspect of our business, and hiring people who deeply care about you and take the time to stay on top of any changes to your financial position.
As Ms. Cabot-Alletzhauser says later in the interview: “Credibility is not just a function of education, accreditation, past performance, and experience. It includes additional traits, the most important being a solid track record of demonstrable stewardship of clients’ asset.” I couldn’t agree more. We are huge advocates of education – in fact, every single one of our employees either holds a respected designation or is currently pursuing one. When it comes to our investment performance we have put up respectable numbers and when it comes to our experience we all have a background in finance. But what I appreciate most about the firm that we’ve built and what lies at the heart of our goals this upcoming year is our clients. We want to steward not only their assets but their financial livelihoods. Our value-add is not simply generating returns – no matter the cost – it’s generating returns that meet the needs of your plan – whatever that plan may be. If you’d like to learn more about how we do that I would encourage you to reach out to one of our advisors. We would love to run a plan for you – no strings attached – and discuss what it looks like for you to meet your financial goals and finally find peace.
Stammers, Robert. “Evolving States of Trust and Value: Anne Cabot-Alletzhauser.” Enterprising Investor. 2017. https://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2017/09/06/evolving-states-of-trust-and-value-anne-cabot-alletzhauser/.