What Should You Expect From Your Financial Advisor?
Is It Time To Raise Your Expectations?
Chief Executive Officer, Founder
Todd Sixt is the CEO of Strait & Sound. He is a successful and seasoned leader of financial service teams. His focus is to ensure Strait & Sound’s clients are provided with a first-class experience and that the work delivered by our people is unsurpassed in the financial services industry. At his core, he believes in excellence. Todd is deeply committed to helping clients achieve complete financial independence.
When it comes to working with a financial advisor, there seems to be one universal expectation. It might sound something like this. “Invest my money so I see a good return, but don’t expose me to too much risk.” In fact, some people seem to see investment returns as the universal barometer of the effectiveness of a financial advisor. I take a somewhat different perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. Investment returns are important. Most people in this country won’t realize their financial goals without taking some sort of risk with investments. But far too often I’ve seen families achieve most or all of their financial goals without achieving their financial dreams. What’s the difference? Financial goals are about specific numbers and milestones, liking having a certain amount of money by the time you retire.
But financial dreams are much more complicated than that. This is about where a client’s personal history, family stories, values and even painful experiences from their past all coalesce into a vision for what they want the future to be for them and those they love. I believe you should expect a financial advisor to deeply understand, care about and commit to your financial dreams, right along with you.
What Else Should You Expect?
I don’t want to overstate the difference between financial goals and financial dreams. For some clients I’ve served, these two have been almost synonymous. But for other clients, especially those with multi-generational families and complex financial situations, their goals and dreams haven’t always aligned.
This is one reason we offer several different services, like Financial Planning, Investment Management, Retirement Planning, Tax Strategy, Asset Protection, Estate Plan Strategy and Charitable Strategy. I sometimes tend to think of these services like the proverbial story of seven blind people washing an elephant, trying to figure out what it looks like. When we look at your situation through all of these lenses, we get a much clearer picture of your financial goals.
But that doesn’t mean we’ll understand your financial dreams. These services will help us understand your what—what you want to achieve—but they won’t tell us your why—why these goals matter to you and your loved ones. To understand your why, we have to take a different approach. And this gets to the heart of my message.
I believe you should expect your financial advisor not only to care about your what, but also, and maybe most importantly, about your why. This makes it the responsibility of your financial advisor to develop certain qualities in their relationship with you. Here are several qualities that I believe are important.
- A fiduciary relationship. I believe it’s important for financial advisors to commit to putting your interests at the center of the relationship. This means they act in your best interest at all times.
- Intimacy. I believe it’s the responsibility of an advisor to get to know you deeply through a formal discovery process that allows you to express your vision for the future and why it matters to you and your family. Great financial advisors get to know you by listening to your stories.
- A long-term partnership. Most clients will need years of faithful guidance and partnership to achieve their financial dreams. I recommend that you expect to work with a financial advisor for at least a decade, maybe longer.
- A comprehensive approach. I believe a financial advisor should offer you the set of services you need, based on your unique situation. Achieving your financial dreams will probably require a multitude of services, not just investment services. I believe you should expect a comprehensive service palette that empowers you to achieve your dreams.
- A strategy to heal the gap. When most of our clients come to us, they tell us about their dreams and then we look at how they are positioned to achieve them. Most of the time, there are some significant gaps between their dreams and the current disposition of their wealth. Great financial advisors put plans in place to heal those gaps. But about every five years or so, they go through that same exercise again because things will likely have changed in your situation.
- A willingness to work with your other professional advisors. Most of our clients have several professionals they work with besides us: CPA, estate attorney, insurance experts, real estate professionals and even bankers. Effective financial advisors see themselves as being on the same team as these others professionals. Great financial advisors will lead this team on your behalf, saving you a lot of time.