Two entirely separate situations share a common thread.
My daughter Belle was diagnosed with cerebral palsy a few months ago. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it is the most common motor disability in children. Many children with CP struggle to walk or control their muscles, and it is a lifelong condition. As parents, Brooke and I had countless questions at first about what it was, what we should do, and how we could help Belle as much as possible. We still have unanswered questions.
Soon after the diagnosis, Brooke found a group of parents on Facebook navigating the same thing. They understood exactly the kinds of emotions, questions, and challenges we are facing. Brooke had coffee with an incredibly strong, kind woman from this group who had lived and breathed a decade of caring for not one, but two children with cerebral palsy. Two hours later, Brooke came back full of perspective, tips, and perhaps most important, hope. She left with a better sense of direction.
I also recently attended an incredible conference Commonwealth invites affiliated advisors to attend each year. Two thousand advisors from around the country congregated to learn from industry experts, share challenges and solutions with one another, and improve our ability to take care of clients. We were able to learn from accomplished entrepreneurs and sports icons like Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Laila Ali, who were fantastic and inspiring.
However, the greatest takeaways from the conference were the unplanned conversations held one on one or in small groups with advisors. We shared our experiences with one another–that alone was invaluable. Even more valuable were the tips and advice we exchanged on how to solve each other’s challenges. The advice came from real experience navigating the exact same thing in our own businesses. I left feeling clarity.
What do these two experiences have in common? There is an incredible amount of relief from sharing a burden with someone else. As an advisor, clients lean on us with the financial questions and burdens they carry. We live and breathe the big money questions and concerns clients have every day. When clients share problems, they are relieved because they know we understand and can help.
I remember a client came to us having already worked with another advisor. She said “I had a question that was really worrying me and needed to talk to someone. I reached out to my old advisor asking for help. He emailed an article with no other explanation. I have a master’s degree in business administration, can read a profit and loss statement no problem, and consider myself fairly financially literate. I had no idea what that article said.”
She left that advisor and partnered with us because she wanted something different. And she isn’t alone–most of our clients have similar stories. They were looking for a trusted partner they can rely on for anything with a dollar sign. Their investments are a starting point, not the end of the story. They want financial planning and wealth management. More generally than that, clients seem to want relief and clarity.
Many of our new clients are shocked by how good it feels to finally confide in their financial life with someone else. Even clients with financially sophisticated backgrounds say a load has been lifted–they can focus on the rest of their life better with their concerns named and out in the open. They don’t have to be the sole steward of their family’s wealth. We can help them navigate.
That sometimes means broaching tough financial topics in a family meeting with us. It might mean working through the financial side of a divorce, the implications of a large inheritance, hefty student loans, how to exit a business successfully, or how to plan for supporting a special needs child (or your parents). Sometimes it is walking through the kind of legacy you want to leave for your family and community; sometimes it is making sure you simply don’t run out of money. Regardless, we are your partners through it all.
I close with a little Bill Withers:
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I”ll be your friend, I”ll help you carry on.”