How many times have you told someone about a commitment you made? How many real commitments have you made in your life? I think of my faith in Christ. I think of my marriage to Jenny. I think about my kids. I think of my business partnership with my brother, Steve. I think about my mortgage. These are things I’ve clearly committed to.
Brian Moran, in his book The 12 Week Year does a great job taking apart the necessary components of making a successful commitment. I would add that if we think we have to do all of the below work before we start the commitment, then we may not be ready to commit at all…
- Strong Desire.A clear, personally compelling reason to do what you are committing to.
- Find Keystone Actions. It’s what we do that counts. A few key actions will produce the best results. Learn what those are and do those.
- Count the costs. Consider the hardships that will need to be overcome and decide ahead of time not to succumb to them.
- Act on commitments not feelings. Know up front that we will have to act from a commitment rather than a feeling. We will not normally feel like doing what we’ve committed to do.
Nearly ten years ago, I made another commitment to you my clients—to households who entrust me with their retirement portfolios, to businesses who trust us with their plan and fund administration, and to all of you who trust our investment advice.
Here are a few of the ways I am answering the above four challenges in my commitment to you. If you have not felt every bit of this, I want to know about it. I am “all in” for the success of your financial future and your investing peace of mind.
- Strong Desire. One of my clients came into the year 2000 with nearly $1,000,000 in their investment account. They were working with a traditional commissioned annuity sales person and purchased a product that they didn’t understand and had no criteria for holding him accountable. When they came to me in a crisis in 2009, they had $150,000 left and were facing drastic and severe questions. These questions did not have easy answers. This situation and countless like it drive me to help more households understand markets and products and to give the kind of advice that allows for exciting questions with a variety of fun answers.
- We can and will continue to evaluate what is best here. What we’ve been doing so far is this: Quarterly coaching and education in event-style formats giving timely data and market interpretation. Essentially giving you the right information at the right time so that you can make the right decisions. We have recently begun live streaming these events for folks who cannot make it out. We also call our clients multiple times per year. You have life events happen and we need to know about more of them. A good coach learns about his players and I need to know you better. Please – take our call, attend the events, schedule an appointment to meet with me.
- Counting the cost. My organization is grown with my clients. We have the capacity and resources to serve you ahead of time. Our offices have gotten bigger as well. I am running my business based on best practices and growing with you. We have also reduced our fees in the past couple of years for all of our clients. As we’ve grown, we’ve gained economies of scale and we passed the benefits of this on to you. Costs for investing are one of the biggest enemies. We are well under industry averages in every area. We won’t stop counting this.
- Act on commitments – not feelings. This is where the rubber meets the road in my business. Am I your advisor or am I simply a facilitator? Do I allow you to make emotional decisions? Will I make decisions based on my emotions or out of personal fears? One client, back in 2008, was a particularly difficult situation for me. It was a larger account belonging to a well-connected individual. He was not happy with the market decline that he was experiencing and did not want to “lose” any more money. The account was not needed for any reason over the next 15 years, but that did not seem to matter. Losing the client meant losing a good percentage of business revenue and meant that I would not have “access” to this person’s network, which I was excited about. He was giving me a solution that would have worked for him and had I agreed he said he would stick with me. He wanted me to move his money to our most conservative platform just until the dust settled on the economy and then he’d pick back up with plan A and get back on track with my advice. He just needed a short break. Friends, these “short breaks”, especially during down or flat markets are why you pay for my advice. I ended up disagreeing and parting ways with this client and received a call from a fixed-annuity salesperson who was more than willing to fix in my client’s losses forever for a nice commission.
I will not sell you out. I am committed to you. I just wanted you to know what I mean by that.
Thanks for listening.