Steve Thaxter- Senior Partner and Principal Adviser
Sovereign Wealth Partners
This is the first article in a series designed to help you get the very best out of your financial adviser, whoever they may be. If you’re already a client of Sovereign Wealth Partners, hopefully you’ll recognise the process and feel empowered to revisit these conversations with us at any time.
As a long-time adviser who’s helped achieve some amazing outcomes from financial advice and, I have to admit, agonised over some client relationships that just didn’t click, I thought I’d pass on some learnings.
These learnings are about the conversations clients and their advisers absolutely need to have.
You may know that financial advisers are required by law to have a reasonable basis for the advice they give. Therefore, each adviser needs to follow a ‘know your client’ form filling exercise to gather the information that’s relevant for the advice they give. Trouble is, we’re all time poor and people’s stories and circumstances are long and complicated. In our rush to start advising it’s tempting to tick the boxes and gloss over what’s really important.
All is not lost though, because armed with these tips, with or without your adviser’s help, you, the client, can still take control of the conversation at any time. By doing so, you will bring both you and your adviser to a better place.
Before starting, consider for a moment that both you and your adviser are only human. Advisers and clients alike have idiosyncrasies, strengths, weaknesses, egos, and blind spots. It doesn’t actually matter if you, the client, has any financial knowledge or experience. We’ll take it as given that your adviser is smart, savvy, trustworthy, fully qualified and backed by a world class process. The task at hand here is to have the important conversations that bring the best out of both adviser and client, neutralise the weaknesses and commit to the process.
If this is done well, you should start to get some real value from your adviser. You should soon become confident that you can live an extraordinary life backed by wealth that’s beautifully aligned with everything that’s important to you.
So lets get started with the conversations you absolutely need to have. One thing though, extraordinary advice partnerships are elusive. So the conversations are probably not what you’d think.
Conversation 1: Please don’t ask me for my “goals and objectives”.
You may not know it, but it’s most likely that the first question on any adviser’s ‘know your client’ checklist is to ask about your goals and objectives. My suggestion: – do not attempt to answer this! I don’t know about you but my goals and objectives change day on day. Sometimes twice a day. It’s an unfair question. Like asking a school kid what they’re going to do when they grow up. Push hard and you might get an answer. But that answer is just as likely to be a platitude just to get you off their back.
Actually this is a wonderful opportunity to take control of the conversation! All you have to do is just talk about what’s important. Everything that’s important to you. Everything that could have some remote connection with money, resources or time. Ambitions, fears, affordability, family, home, portfolio, successes, conflicts, failings. A good adviser will be curious to know your story. They will guide the conversation to cover everything they need to know, they will gain insight into your unique perspective and values. They will identify the concerns, the conflicts and the priorities. They might point out some really important things you weren’t aware of. Beware, this conversation will likely take a good while. But its time well spent.
Once your adviser knows what’s important to you it their job to document it, not yours. For the adviser, it’s a critical part of the diagnostic and needs to be reflected upon before moving towards any sort of prescription. So let your adviser demonstrate they’ve listened carefully. Let them do the work. Easy!
By the way it’s not set and forget either. Nothing stays the same for long. Nor should it. It always pays to refresh with your adviser on just what’s important right now. A good financial adviser will want to hear the new instalments in your story. They’re happy to tear up the old plan and start a new one.
In fact, we’ve built our own unique wealth planning software system to do just that in real time. Its called Sovereignty. Any change in your priorities, or even a new ‘what if’ scenario can be worked through and tested in real time during our face to face meetings. Or over zoom. And if the new scenario is more relevant than the old one, if we can demonstrate it’s realistic, sustainable and reflects what’s important to you right now – that’s it, you have a new “Grand Plan”. From there, we’ll document it, incorporate it into our advice and make sure your wealth is perfectly aligned towards it.
Look out for more important conversations in future Sovereign newsfeeds.