Start your engines . . .
Ying and yang. Chocolate and vanilla. Led Zeppelin and The Who. Throughout history, there have always been battles between two competing forces.
And now we can add driver versus passenger to that list. Here’s what I mean.
Money can create an interesting power dynamic between you (the client) and your advisors.
On one hand, it’s your money and your life. Your advisors work for you, you are in charge, and you call the shots; you are the driver.
On the other hand, most people aren’t comfortable enough with the tax code, laws, or financial strategies to make smart decisions. You must rely on your team to guide you; you are the passenger.
And this is what creates the driver versus passenger battle.
Some people go too far one way or the other. For example, they may throw their hands up in the air and relinquish all control to their team because they feel con- fused and overwhelmed. Or on the flipside, they become involved in every detail and make it difficult for the experts to do their jobs. Both scenarios are disastrous. The key is to identify the areas where you will be the driver and the other areas where you will be the passenger.
So, what’s someone to do?
Here’s what I’ve found that works best…
- Be the driver when it comes to defining your goals, objectives, and vision. Sometimes, well-meaning attorneys, CPAs, and financial planners will place a higher emphasis on form over function. They may devise sophisticated strategies that are financially correct, but in doing so, compromise your overall vision and desire for simplicity. They may dazzle you with big words and highly technical details, but make sure you are vocal about what you want.
- It also makes sense to be the driver when it comes to setting expectations for your team. It is worth repeating: your advisors work for you. It doesn’t matter how little education or experience you have, or how many letters they have after their name, you pay them to perform a service. As a result, you should set expectations, such as how often to meet, how they should best communicate with you, and how well they should explain things.
- Be the driver as it relates to asking questions and ensuring you understand what is happening. Every question you have is valid and deserves an explanation. What is “obvious” or “common sense” to them may not be to you. Don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions or having your advisors explain things until you understand them.
You shouldn’t attempt to be the driver in every situation, however.
There is a reason you are hiring the best attorneys, CPA, and financial advisor you can find. They have decades (or should!) of knowledge and experience. You’re paying them, so let them do their jobs. This means giving them the freedom to explore different strategies, to have conference calls with the other members of your team, and to keep an open-mind to their ideas and advice.
I’ve found that the best client relationships are the ones where the client paints the big picture of what they want and hope to achieve, and then lets the advisors craft the strategy for how to make that happen. Focus on the destination while you let your team figure out how to best get you there.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from Get Money Smart: Simple Lessons to Kickstart Your Financial Confidence & Grow Your Wealth, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.