Advisor as tour guide
My favorite line from the movie “Dave“, occurred when the White House tour guide (played by Bonnie Hunt) was encouraging her tour group to get moving: “And we’re walking, and we’re walking, and we’re stopping.” This summer I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of teen-agers on an educational tour of England and France. We utilized the resources of an experienced local tour guide, Mario, who helped us plan our activities, and provided color commentary along the way (his favorite line to get us moving was “let’s go!”). As I reflected on the trip, I couldn’t help but notice some corollaries to your role as an advisor.
Mario provided us with:
- Organization – In developing the agenda, he had time points down to the minute for how long particular activities would take (based on his many years of experience). He also knew what things to avoid (like the 4 hour wait to climb up to the top of the Eiffel tower due to an inoperable elevator).
- Education and color commentary – Without knowing the history, many of the buildings and monuments would have just looked old. It took knowledge of history to truly appreciate what we were experiencing. We, like teen-agers, have short attention spans and we like a little excitement or drama in our history lessons.
- Re-direct (or modification of plans when things pop up) – Things don’t always go as planned; something we’ve come to expect when travelling (especially with a group of teen-agers). An 8:00 departure to beat rush hour traffic in Paris was delayed due to alarm clock failures. But Mario modified our agenda to ensure we didn’t miss out on too much.
- Clear direction, and constant reminders – “Get on the subway quickly.” “Get off the subway in 3 stops.” “Watch out for pick-pocketers.” “When you’re in the museum make sure you see exhibits X, Y, and Z.”
How does this relate to your role as an advisor? You provide your clients with:
- Organization – Rather than agendas, you develop financial plans for your clients. Financial plans which provide a blueprint for their savings and investing.
- Education and color commentary – Clients need to have at least a basic understanding about the markets and the economy; about the benefits of a globally diversified strategic portfolio, invested for the long-term. You can bring expert insight and perspective to the constant change that is the market, and help them not be swayed by current sentiment.
- Re-direct – Stuff happens, in the markets, in life. Your role in re-evaluating financial plans in the case of extreme market events or circumstances requiring larger than expected outflows of cash, ensures clients stay focused on their long-term goals.
- Clear direction, and constant reminders – Frequent communication on how your clients are progressing towards their goals will ensure they stay focused on those goals.
Traveling is not without hiccups, neither is investing. Your clients are well served by your organization of their financial plans, perspective on the market, ongoing evaluation of their plans, and guidance to help them anchor to a long-term investment perspective. Let’s go!