Deepening Your Wealth Management Partnership
by Michael Worsfold
Just when you think it can’t get any worse,
it does… or it threatens to.
I recently read something that said it wasn’t a question of if the US dollar would fail, but when. That sent me running to Amanda Knapp, my RBC Wealth Manager. She has been taking care of my retirement nest egg for about 12 years. She’s used to me panicking. Usually, it’s prompted by something I’ve read or heard…some dire prediction.
This time she wasn’t quite as reassuring as I would have liked. She admitted that she too was concerned about the level of the US debt, and she added that Canada’s national debt is headed hard in the same direction, fueled by COVID 19 spending. We talked about how few voices are speaking about the danger of rising debt. No serious opposition it seems.
It made me think how glad I am to have Amanda to talk with about this sort of thing. I never feel like I’m being talked down to, or “handled” with some stock answer to calm the worried client.
It is so easy to get triggered when we are swimming in a sea of media stories intended to activate our fear or anger.
Recently we’d talked about articles that had appeared about the need for transparency and trust in wealth management, and the push to automate wealth management. (See links below) Of course, we all want to know the truth about our fees. And it was reassuring, if not surprising, to read that the majority of clients highly value their personal relationship with their wealth manager.
It takes a team of specialists to manage a portfolio. But perhaps more importantly, most of us need someone to keep us grounded; someone with an educated perspective who will calm us, and stop us from doing something stupid when the market goes crazy.
The faster things move the more complex life becomes. Complexity is what creates our need for partners to help manage parts of our lives. For wealth management, we need a partner with depth of experience and access to the most sophisticated systems. We need a partner with bench strength. Not one person, but a team. Perhaps most importantly we need a partner we can trust to have our back; to put our interests first.
Deepening the Partnership Connection
The COVID 19 experience has made us more aware of the importance of relationships of all kinds. In some cases, it has brought about a deepening of relationships. In other cases, it’s made us aware of neglected relationships and the need to create deeper connections. A major long term Harvard University study found that our biggest need is the need for intimate relationships. Connections with people who will be there for us in crunch times.
One of the key factors for emotional wellbeing is partnerships with people that help us manage important parts of our lives. As we change and our world changes, we need to reassess our relationships with professional partners, such as tech services, medical and wealth management, to ensure that we are connected in ways that take care of our changing needs.
Being Clear About Your Needs
Sometimes it’s hard to accept that our emotional needs are changing. We may not be clear about our needs because we are focused on other people’s needs, or because we’ve never really thought about our needs. Perhaps we worry that it’s going to be too painful to go there. Like avoiding the subject of your will.
It’s very helpful to have a checklist that gives you the language to specify your emotional needs.
I’ve been coaching for about 10 years. In 2018 I created a coaching program for retired people called New Retirement Experience. Its main aim is to help people create new meaning and purpose. The foundation of the program is 12 Key Factors for Wellbeing. It’s like a pilot’s checklist for proactively managing your emotional wellbeing. ( see link below)
Three Key Factors are Relationships
1. Friends. We need friends who care about us and have our best interests at heart.
2. Intimate relationships. We need people we can trust to be there for us in a crisis.
3. Support team. In this complex, fast-paced world, we need a support team. People we call for help with certain tasks like home maintenance, and others who ‘comanage’ important parts of our lives, like our wealth manager. My motto is… “It’s not what to do, but who to call.”
The Six Human Needs
The Six Human Needs is a foundational model used by Tony Robbins and taught in the Robbins-Madanes coaching training which I did several years ago.
In the training, I learned to use the Six Human Needs to assess my own needs and help my clients to calibrate their needs. I shared the model with my wife. Together we did a joint assessment of our needs, and we talked about how we could help each other satisfy each other’s needs. It was a revelation for me to learn about her need for variety. “Not big things”, she said. Maybe a new place for breakfast or walk the dog someplace new. I remember feeling relieved and thinking…“I can do that!”.
Tony teaches that our mission in love relationships is to satisfy the needs of the person we love. That mindset helps me to keep focused on the main thing. Now I take the garbage out as an act of love. I know, that sounds sucky, but it’s true. It’s not a task that I resent any more.
I encourage you to get some paper and assess your Six Human Needs on a scale of 1-10 and then think of actions to improve your satisfaction. And if you are feeling brave, try it with your partner.
The Six Human Needs: A Brief Definition
Certainty: The need to be certain of things that are important to you, like health and financial security.
Uncertainty: The need for variety, unexpected surprises, even challenges as “the spice of life”.
Significance: The need to be valued, respected and appreciated.
Love and connection: The need for intimacy; the need to love and be loved. In a work context, it is the need to be connected to people with mutual care, trust and respect.
Growth: The need for continuous learning, growing and expansion. We grow or we die.
Contribution: The need to contribute to others and to make the world a better place.
Note: The first four needs are described as personality needs or ego needs. The last two are spiritual needs that go deeper to your true self.
Wealth Management Partnership Application
Here’s how I see it. You may see it differently.
Certainty: This is number one for me. I need to be certain that my nest egg is safe. I accept moderate growth in good times in exchange for relative stability in bad times. I value the ability to have reassuring and educational conversations about how I am protected. Failure is not an option!
Uncertainty/variety: Boring is fine with me. I accept that turbulence is a reality and I am continuously reassured by revisiting the conversation about natural ups and downs. Even though, I admit, I sometimes wonder, secretly, if this is the big down that will finish us. I want ‘boring’.
Significance. Of course, I have a need to be significant to my wealth manager. I want my peace of mind to be her chief concern. Smart business people know that ‘job one’ is customers feeling that they are significant. Everyone says the words, but few deliver.
When we retire we lose our identity and role significance to a great extent. We need to create a new identity and to find new meaning and purpose. In some ways I find it freeing to be a “nobody”. However, I am secretly grateful to be somebody in my relationship with Amanda. I know it is so because I feel it every time we talk.
Love and Connection. Being deeply connected is a top priority. In a wealth management partnership, I’d reframe that to ‘care and connection’. From the first time I met Amanda, I felt connected. I intuitively felt that she cared about me, not about selling me. In my experience that’s rare. I’ve learned to trust my gut.
I was a partnering strategy consultant in business for 20 years. I know that the basis for true partnership is shared goals. In this instance, that means to me that my partner takes ownership of my financial goals and all the parts of the puzzle. I trust that she has my back. There it is again. In 12 years I’ve never doubted it. I know it is her soul purpose.
Growth: This is a top priority for me that is enabled by my wealth manager. By virtue of my partnership with Amanda, I am free to focus on my growth. I love to learn more about coaching and writing poetry and songs. It keeps me young. I can do that because I don’t worry about money. Amanda and her team do that for me.
Contribution: Similar to growth, I am able to focus on my coaching clients, because Amanda is taking care of my money. I get to do what I love to do and she gets to do what she loves to do. In that way, we enable each other to contribute the most to make the world a better place. That’s what partnership is all about. Together we are stronger.
Closing Note: I haven’t actually rated these factors with Amanda. We haven’t had that conversation directly. However, I would rate our relationship a 9 out of 10. Only because, I suppose, there’s always room for improvement. It’s the best professional partnership that I have ever experienced! We are constantly in conversation about how to improve it.
Fee disclosure, continuing education lead clients to trust advisors more.
What investors can learn from B.C.’s superstar provincial health officer
12 Factors for Wellbeing: The New Retirement Experience
I know that “Growth” has been my driving force in life… but not the kind that’s concerned with my bank account!
So, both a virtue an a flaw I guess.