January 11, 2022
  • January 11, 2022

Weekend Trial: Are We Expecting Less for Less from Advisors?

By on January 7, 2022 0

My son Liam wants to go to music college when he leaves school. He’s gotten more serious about performing over the past year or so, and at age 13 he’s already gone through a musical rite of passage – stepping down as lead singer / guitarist in a band due to ‘musical differences’.


In short, they couldn’t agree on what to play. Liam suggested David Bowie but the bassist – who saw him as his band, because he had them together – preferred Elton John. At the heart of this difference of opinion was authenticity.

The group included a pianist and the bassist felt that meant they could only play songs with a piano part. Liam’s suggestion to create a piano part where there was none was rejected as it “wouldn’t be like the original.”

Growing frustrated, Liam refused to sing Elton’s “I’m Still Standing” and left the band. He will happily sing it in the car but does not want to interpret it. The reason? It doesn’t make the hairs stand on end like ‘Space Oddity’ or Nirvana’s live cover of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ by Bowie. Despite his youth, Liam knows he needs a real connection to a song to perform it well.

Liam’s band issues and the larger theme of authenticity were at the back of my mind when I did a few interviews for Money Marketing recently. I have studied the evolution of the role of financial advisers over the past few years.

Not the aftermath of RDR, but how financial planning is the ideal solution for intergenerational wealth transfer. I’m really interested in the ability of counselors to connect to different generations of clients the same way my son and his peers connect to songs written by and for people from another era.

My husband and I often joke about being ‘down to earth with the kids’, but the reality is that we can connect better on some levels with our teenager than others. I remember being let loose like a dirty rag when my best friend had her first boyfriend, so when Liam went through a similar thing, I could help him.

But there are aspects of my son’s life that I have no idea about – like gambling – as time goes on. Just like I don’t understand my grandmother’s passion for black and white films from her youth, on the other end of the age spectrum. I could feign excitement or even educate myself a bit, but ultimately the likes of Nintendo’s Mario and Hollywood legend Cary Grant are “not me.”

I imagine it’s no different for counselors trying to bridge the generation gap with someone much older or younger than them. There will be areas of mutual connection and it is better to focus on those rather than forcing areas that don’t come easily.

Just before Christmas, I spoke to John Porteous of Charles Stanley about the findings of the company’s “Moments that Matter” report. The firm also linked the report to information from its advisor conference on when and why clients see an advisor, what clients expect from advisers, and how advisers can interact with the next generation of clients.

What emerged from our discussion was that counselors are increasingly coming to understand the complexity of their clients’ family relationships as intergenerational wealth grows in importance, which is not an issue. easy task. But for me, the most remarkable statistic is that about a third of counselors surveyed by Charles Stanley said their clients need more emotional support than financial support. The firm also found that many consumers expect financial advisers to approach their services more like advisers.

According to Charles Stanley, consumers increasingly seek financial advice at “critical, and often more vulnerable, times in their lives.” He says clients demand more of the extra support they need, so the skills of advisors have had to go beyond financial advice, which has reshaped their role.

The press release issued by Charles Stanley ends with a comment from Sean Osborne, the company’s group sales manager, who said: “The lines are blurred between professional and personal advice in a post-Covid world, and advisers are under pressure to hold all fronts.

I have already written about my discomfort with the tendency of certain professions to interfere with other professions, however well-intentioned they may be. But at the same time, I understand that professions change and that financial planning – as opposed to old-fashioned transactional financial advice – is where we are.

So if my financial planner asks me questions about my life – my relationships, motivations, goals and concerns that at first glance don’t affect finances, then it’s only natural that I turn to them. for emotional support when something changes that I can’t handle on my own?

However, I still feel like shouting “the clue is in the job title”: financial planner, wealth advisor, financial advisor or whatever. Is it fair that customers expect to be put on the right track emotionally and financially? I wonder if clients who expect financial advisers to be like advisers just want more for less.

To some extent, we all get lost in the private part of our professional life, just because we’re human and I don’t have a problem with that. If someone says they can’t do something for us in a professional capacity because their mom moved to a care home or their cat just died, we don’t just say “No worries, I’ll ask. do this and that instead ”and move quickly. At the very least, we ask them if they are okay and take a few moments to listen to them.

But if the occasional reference to the mother in a care home allowed me to determine if it was the right decision in the first place, I wouldn’t know what to say beyond: “Well, I’m sure you have. made the right decision because you know your mother better than anyone. I am not a qualified counselor and have no relevant personal knowledge or experience to assist anyone in this situation.

I would be better equipped to comment on the death of a pet. When my 14 year old Yorkshire Terrier was diagnosed with cancer and glaucoma, I knew it was the right decision to put him to sleep. I could have given him treatment that would have given us a few more months together, but it would have made him sick and it seemed selfish. Just watching him – disinterested in everything he liked and not eating – told me what to do. Even so, it didn’t stop the guilt that plagued me for months, no matter how much I made my decision out of love.

Going back to what I said earlier about authenticity, it’s easier to help someone if you can relate to them on a personal level. Whether it’s something as trivial as a shared hobby or something deeper like going through a divorce, it’s a way to connect. So I appreciate that understanding the interconnected emotional and financial aspects of someone’s life can help counselors build relationships with clients.

As John Porteous has pointed out, people’s personal experiences and relationships shape their view of money, which means that sharp lines between financial and emotional would never work, especially as financial planning. is a melting pot of everything that matters to customers.

I know counselors who have taken formal counseling training because they decided it would be beneficial for their clients. Having seen the evolution of the profession, especially with regard to the identification and fair treatment of clients in vulnerable situations, I can see this as a sensible decision for some.

But I think that should never be a prerequisite for becoming a counselor, because formalizing it takes one step too deep into other people’s territory. At the risk of sounding harsh, if clients want advice on personal issues, they really should look elsewhere. That said, there seems to be a need, especially among people who gain wealth quickly in a life-changing way.

On my return to work after the Christmas vacation, I had a conversation with Amanda Falkson of Psychotherapy City, a psychotherapist who also provides wealth and business advice. She often works with people who have gained wealth through lucrative careers or an inheritance, but then struggle with isolation, fit in or find meaning in their lives if they don’t need to. to work.

Falkson never talks about her clients but has given me a few examples of people she has known over the years. A young man was among a group of friends who had attended school and university together. He expected to inherit the family wealth later in life, but this was far from the case. However, the death of a relative who did not have a direct heir allowed him to inherit wealth much earlier and this destabilized him.

His friends believed that with his newly acquired wealth he would live a different lifestyle and not want to spend time with them, doing the same things he always did. They didn’t know how to behave around him, so it was easier to stop inviting him and he felt he couldn’t trust them anymore.

Falkson – a former chef – also spoke of a friend who became a well-known chef. All she wanted was for her friends to invite her over to their house for spaghetti bolognese. The invitation probably never came because his friends thought their bowl of spag could never compete with his – but as Falkson says, it was about spending time together, not eating.

I mentioned Charles Stanley’s research at Falkson and she said it reminded her of when nurses became nurse managers, changing their role in the NHS to involve sustaining departments as well as caring for patients. Recognizing that some counselors will not have the skills to act as counselors, she suggested counselors could perhaps adapt the supervision system that works in her profession.

It’s not about having someone to control your work – it’s about having someone to talk to about the way you’re doing and the impact things are having on you, as a as a therapist. It’s basically a sort of debriefing, which Falkson herself would be happy to help the advisers on.

Having had an in-depth discussion with Falkson, I now wonder if this is the path the counseling profession should take – having an advisor who has counseling skills or an outsourced arrangement with a qualified counselor to act as a sounding board. for counselors who don’t have this training. After all, how can you support other people if they don’t have the right support themselves?

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