by Ira Brower~How does the Role of the Trusted Advisor fit within the context of personal financial planning?
I recently saw this quote describing ‘Trust’.
“Trust is an aspect of a relationship that is earned and based on the belief that someone can be relied on to live up to expectations. Trusting someone means the person extending trust has confidence that the other person will live up to the understandings that have been established in the relationship. When we consistently deliver on or exceed what is expected, including stated, implied, or assumed commitments, we are thought of as dependable and therefore usually trustworthy.”
Within the context of personal financial planning, the trusted advisor operates more like an orchestra conductor assuring that all sections of the client’s financial wellbeing are playing in harmony. We need to know our client’s current financial picture and just as important for long term planning purposes, the dynamics of the client’s family. Oftentimes, as a trusted advisor, we may stand in place of the client in making lifestyle decisions, administering to his or her current estate plan as well as investing to meet our client’s financial goals and objectives.
Years ago when I first entered the trust business the client saw the role of the trust advisor (trust officer) as the necessary vehicle to gather assets, pay taxes and distribute assets to the client’s family upon death in accordance with the terms of their will or trust agreement. Not anymore, today like the conductor of an orchestra, the trusted advisor is intimately involved with the plans of their client both pre and post retirement. The trusted advisor works with the client, and the client’s attorney, accountant and other advisors and brings an active unbiased perspective to the planning process.
How does one become the trusted advisor? The simple answer is time. With time, a trusted advisor earns his or her position with the client through relationship building. It takes time and trust before the client will share family matters. The more the advisor learns about family dynamics the easier it becomes to overlay the client’s goals and objectives into a comprehensive plan for current and future needs. The client should view the trusted advisor as a gatekeeper for personal financial services and lifestyle management. As the advisor learns about the client’s past decisions and life events, the more that advisor becomes a valuable asset for the client.
Confidence in the advisor is not all about conversation. Clients today are much more sophisticated, knowledgeable and more cautious than in the past. Much can be attributed to all of the media outlets (think Enron, WorldCom, Bernard Madoff) we are bombarded with carrying financial advice and advertisements whether it is cable television, radio and of course the internet. Clients have come to expect a higher level of service, and they know where they go for other sources of financial services. Clients should expect accuracy and timeliness. But, above all, clients should expect and deserve a high level of proactive communication and responsiveness from their advisor. Over time as the advisor continues to meet the expectations of the client he or she is then on their way to earning trusted advisor status.