Weekend Essay: Drawing the Line to Go “Beyond and Beyond”
Going “beyond and beyond” is something I have thought about a lot this week. I spoke to a few people while working on some articles for our next magazine and these conversations left me wondering if this is still as welcome or desirable as we think it is?
Exceeding what is expected of us in our work or even as a member of society is seen as an exceptional quality that we should admire, if not emulate. I’ve seen it a lot when I worked in local newspapers, from go-to heroes to local business leaders honored for years of charitable work with a place on the New Year’s Honors list.
This is great if you have the ability to go beyond the call of duty, but sometimes you won’t know until after the event. If you go beyond your remit or skill because you’re trying to help but don’t quite understand what you’re dealing with, you risk making matters worse. Maybe for yourself, if not for the person you are trying to help.
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My uncle discovered it when he witnessed a heated argument between a man and a woman when he came home from work one day. He knew he should just call the police but he was concerned for the woman’s immediate safety, so he intervened verbally. He was not expecting the next step: standing united with her partner, the woman turned on my uncle, deliberately scratching his face. My uncle quickly withdrew, wishing he hadn’t gotten involved.
From a financial advice perspective, advisers want to help – it’s in their nature. So many counselors I’ve spoken to over the years say that’s why they joined the profession in the first place. I have heard heartwarming stories of how counselors have made a real difference by going beyond the usual parameters of their jobs. Researching motorcycles for a client who grew up thinking she could never own a Harley Davidson or supporting a client’s mental health awareness campaign following her husband’s suicide are examples that come to mind. the mind.
The profession has evolved in the 21 years that I have been at Money Marketing. Most conversations with customers no longer begin with the need for a product to fill a gap, they are more about the customer’s life and aspirations. This change has increased the means by which advisors can help clients beyond purely financial matters, which can easily bring them into the territory to go beyond their usual parameters.
I recently spoke to counselors who mediate between generations on inheritance and so on. It demonstrates their value as financial planners, and it’s still part of their job – though old-school advisers may balk at helping people come to an agreement.
“We are not advisers,” is a response I received from an advisor when I wrote about financial lifestyle planning several years ago. Most counselors have embraced it as part of the industry’s evolution into a profession, as I have. But looking back, I think the adviser’s point was valid to some extent.
Situations such as identifying vulnerable clients require a lot of counselors. It is a matter of judgment and they take this responsibility seriously. Companies rightly have specific training and policies to help them take the right approach, in accordance with the requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority.
But how to draw the line between the end of the adviser’s responsibilities and those of the local communities / medical profession / legal profession? It probably seems clear on paper, but in practice I’m not so sure.
When I caught up Money Marketg Columnist Clive Waller, CEO of CWC Research, something he said really touched me. We were talking about additional services that some advisers could offer, such as drafting wills. Waller’s argument was that this tends to go beyond the usual services offered by advisers and if they have to research how to do it, is it fair to charge the client for that research?
You might think you are doing your client a favor in that they don’t have to go somewhere else to settle their will, maybe someone they don’t know and in whom they don’t. confidence. But are you the right person to do it? I am not an advisor so I do not judge. I know some advisers are experts in estate planning and all that goes with it. But Waller’s point gave me food for thought.
I have noticed that counselors are increasingly using psychology in their daily work. My husband tells me that the construction industry does this as well, with a lot of big companies putting people with psychology degrees on the board. They’re looking for behavioral insights to get the most out of staff – improving negotiating skills to generate a little extra income.
This echoes what I heard from Vanguard about the contribution of behavioral coaching to the value of counseling. Vanguard estimates show that of the 3% more returns that advice can generate for investors each year, most comes from behavioral coaching – helping clients avoid bad decisions.
You can see why all kinds of businesses are flocking to get insight into human behavior if it improves efficiency and makes them more money.
During a conversation with Louis Williams of Dynamic Planner about behavioral finance, I discovered that his wife was a clinical psychologist. This area of psychology has become a topic of interest in the education sector – education professionals receive formal training in this area to make it easier for them to move to mental health specialists, for example. example.
Williams suggested that counseling professionals could benefit from similar training to help them refer clients who may be showing signs of depression, for example, to specialists who can help them.
I don’t want to generalize, but in my experience as a mother of three school-aged children, signaling in schools to specialists can be overzealous and uneven – not a good example for those who work in financial services.
When my daughter started school, her teacher told me that I should have her eyes checked because she seemed to be squinting. I hadn’t noticed any of this at home and started to worry – not just about the squint, but why I hadn’t noticed it.
An eye test confirmed that Chloe’s eyes were okay and I haven’t heard anything more about the squint. However, the pattern had been established. A few weeks later, I was told that Chloe was saying “daughter-in-law” and not “blue”, so she might need speech therapy. At home, I went through all the “bl” words I could think of with her, but it seemed like she only had a problem with the “blue”.
Then she got a few spots that “looked like chickenpox,” so the school called – could I get her right away and take her to the doctor? The doctor told me it was nothing – certainly not chickenpox – and that was it.
It was the same when my son started school – he had a red cheek, he was not sitting up straight. I rolled my eyes – we were there again.
I know if one of the school’s concerns had been something serious, I would have been grateful that they had been taken care of sooner. But honestly, I felt like my kids were pinned down under a microscope until an issue that apparently needed specialist attention was discovered.
Ironically, my son’s friend is dyslexic and his parents felt he had not received the right support until they transferred him to an independent school specializing in learning disabilities. This contrast tells me everything I need to know to allow people to mingle with other professions.
I know the reason this is happening is to provide a seamless link between different services and ultimately help. But in my experience, teachers get frustrated when their requests to GPs for specialist referrals to pediatricians and the like fall on death ears. On the other hand, my GP does not appreciate their well-intentioned interventions. He’ll never refer unless he’s done his own assessments, because he doesn’t want to be told how to do his job.
Of course, going above and beyond doesn’t necessarily mean stepping on the toes of another profession. It may simply mean an act of kindness for someone in need and the pandemic has brought a lot of it to the fore in the counseling profession.
I heard from a consulting firm how an advisor brought home some big purchases for an elderly woman. He had told her where he worked during the chatting as they walked and she phoned the company to tell them about his good deed as she felt he deserved some recognition.
It reminds me of a teacher I had when I was doing my A-levels. I had what I thought was the worst exam schedule in history – three two-hour exams a day. One in English, one in law and one in sociology. Two of the exams were back-to-back and I felt overwhelmed.
My teacher was not only friendly, she went out of her way to help. She asked the exam board if I could take the sociology test another time, but they refused. There was the risk that I would pass the details of what was in the exam to another student or vice versa, including the exam.
The only option they allowed me was to take the sociology test everyone’s next day, with a teaching professional able to attest that I had not come into contact with any other candidate during that time.
So my teacher said I could spend the night at her house and take the exam in the morning. I liked the idea, but for all the wrong reasons. My teacher was close to his nephew, who was in an independent group and he was in London, so there was a good chance of meeting him.
I wasn’t a fan of the band, but as a music-obsessed teenager I had read about them in Melody Maker. I was playing with the idea of being a music journalist, so I had a vague idea of doing an interview with them. I was just starting to explore fanzines and thought I might be able to contribute to one of them.
In the end, I just passed the triple exams that day and passed with two A’s and a B’s. As I mentioned in the previous weekend’s practice I was shy around this time and when things happened I just wanted to come home. My parents also had reservations about staying with a teacher they had never met. Which brings me to another point regarding surpassing oneself – is it appropriate?
My teacher was a woman – but rightly or wrongly, the scenario would have been completely different if the teacher who offered to put me up for the night had been a man.
The point is, there are always limits to going beyond, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them and are driven by the best of intentions. You can’t just ignore them.