The process of selecting a professional relationship is a daunting one, especially when we consider the cost of choosing poorly. Red Adair, famous in the 80’s for extinguishing and capping blazing oil well blowouts put it best when he said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
None of us wants to admit how many times we’ve found Mr. Adair’s statement to be true from the expensive end of his warning, particularly for the simpler things like painting a room or repairing a deck. But as the stakes rise, we are more apt to consider a professional, and for the really important instances, we seek the very best professionals.
Anyone who’s had major surgery intimately understands the importance of finding the best surgeon for the procedure. Similarly, someone seeking the best attorney to defend them against a serious legal challenge, a husband and wife desperately searching for an understanding counselor to help them reverse the decay of their marriage, or an expert contractor to repair a home’s crumbling foundation, all have critical, pressing needs. But while the circumstances in each case are unique, differing in every respect from the others, the process of finding an ideal professional is exactly the same, and endlessly repeatable. It consists of three essential questions in order:
1. Do I Trust him or her?
2. Can he or she?
3. Will he or she?
The first question of trust is fundamental and obvious, basically ‘the price of admission.’ It is the foundation of any relationship and it can develop quickly in some cases or over time in others. We can’t always explain it at first, but we know in our gut we do. During our decision time, we work primarily with our emotions; liking, feeling comfortable with, and confident in as well as the emotional connections others whose experiences we have sought.
The second question is more left brained or logical and objective. Here we analyze the capabilities and accomplishments of the professional. We review his or her track record – number of successful operations, cases won, and houses set right and perhaps talk to references they provide. Here is where we delve into the nitty gritty details as we get a feel for the experience and begin to work out our answer to the question – Can he or she solve our problem?
Finally, we come to what is arguably the most important question of the three – Will he or she? If Trust is the foundation, and Can the walls, then Will is roof that protects the relationship from the rain, sleet, and snow of doubt and second-guessing. It is where belief in and faith in transcend the emotions of trust and the logic of can. The answer to the question Will he? is measured by the strength of commitment we make to our new relationship. It’s the belief that he will get the job done, it’s a commitment we make to continue to trust our own process of working through questions 1. and 2. and to trust him through the ongoing process, even when circumstances argue otherwise and challenges test our resolve.
No relationship is stronger than the weakest commitment from a member. No matter how gifted the surgeon or the counselor, if the patient or the client’s belief and commitment that the professional will get the job done are not up to the challenges ahead, the results will fall short of the ideal outcome hoped for. Such is the nature of all relationships, professional and personal.
I often marvel at how carefully a person searches for a surgeon to remove a tumor or repair a knee, yet look no further than a brother-in-law or a golfing buddy for guidance on financial decisions that may impact them, their family, and countless others for generations to come. In these situations I find that he or she is overly satisfied with the answer to question with little or no regard for questions 2 and 3, or can and will he provide the best ongoing advice for my financial future?
Where your financial future is concerned, asking and answering questions two and three requires time and commitment beyond free dinners and sales presentations. The relationship you have with your financial advisor should ideally continually exhibit two-way trust, confidence, and commitment. But if it is founded on no more than a collection of statements and reports of balances and returns sprinkled with a few conversations regarding market or company expectations, then you are compromising your financial future. You are missing opportunities that almost certainly exist among your resources that an ideal professional will uncover.
The right financial advisor can and will enable you to meet or exceed your ideals and will measure those improvements with credible tools optimally aligned with your unique aspirations. If you believe that your relationship is less than ideal, please schedule an appointment with us today. We’d love to walk through questions 1, 2, and 3 with you.