As financial advisers, we tend to think of the value we add from a ‘dollars and cents’ point of view. Until recently, I assumed that the time and energy that we spent thinking, worrying and stressing about our client’s financial situations was only useful in terms of how it helped them achieve their goals. Until a few things happened recently.
I read an article by a journalist who had arranged to outsource some research tasks to a virtual assistant in India. As part of the tasks he outsourced, one day he mentioned that he was spending a lot of time stressing about a book deal that was taking a long time to go ahead, and jokingly asked if she could do this for him. Due to the ‘lost in translation’ effect, the assistant thought he was serious and replied to say that she would set aside time each day to worry about this problem. The punch line of the article was interesting; the journalist then found that his stress levels went down. Every time he caught himself worrying about this problem, he would remember that he already had someone doing this for him.
In an ideal world we wouldn’t spend any more time than absolutely necessary worrying about things. If we’re stressing about something that we can do something about, we should just do something about it. And if we can’t do anything about it… what’s the point of stressing about it? The reality is though, we are human, and sometimes we can’t help it.
That’s why the next thing that happened that I found interesting was when I met with my parents (in the role of their financial adviser). Over the last few years, I had noticed that they seemed much more calm and spent far less time worrying about money. I assumed this was because they had now reached semi-retirement, and were just in a better financial position than what they had previously been. When I asked them about this, they kind of agreed but then said something along the lines of: What’s the point of having a son who’s a financial adviser if we’re going to stress about money? You’re the one who knows what the real issues or problems for us are, and you’re already thinking about this for us.
To me, this sounded extremely similar to the journalist ‘outsourcing his worries’. Many of our clients have mentioned before about the increased peace of mind they have from regularly meeting with a financial adviser. I always assumed that this was purely because this meant that they had clear goals, and knew that they were on track to reach them. I always knew that people didn’t ‘need’ to worry about their money, but what this made me realise is that just because we don’t need to worry about something doesn’t mean the stress goes away. Now during appointments with my clients, I sometimes jokingly tell them that part of the reason they are paying me is to be the one to ‘worry’ about their money, so there’s no point doubling up by them doing it as well. This usually gets a laugh, but I also think it actually helps them feel better the next time they start to stress.
Written by Dallas Davison.
Dallas Davison, Michael Hogue and Ali Hogue.