There are things people say that stick with you your entire life. It's as true for me as I'm sure it is for you. And it's interesting to hear what these things are- the things that shape and define us, labels we picked up, advice we followed, advice we didn't follow. I thought I'd talk briefly about the three things I've been told, at least when it comes to finance and being a financial planner, that have stuck with me.
First is something I was told at the first place I worked in financial services. We were discussing an e-mail I had written to send to all of our clients. In the midst of our argument about whether the e-mail was ready to send I was told, "Logic doesn't sell!" Ever since I had started there, I was told I was too logical in my thinking and writing, that I needed to inject more emotion. But I just couldn't buy it - the idea that someone wouldn't use logic when evaluating an investment. Even if it was a stock I liked, I realized that there was always an argument for the stock going down. That maybe things wouldn't work out and I was wrong. As an analytical thinker, I hated the idea that logic should be brushed aside and emotion should rule when it came to investing. It was exactly the opposite of how I thought you should think about an investment decision. But to him, like many in finance, we were in the business of selling, and logic had no place in sales.
Next, "I know they're screwing me, I just hope they screw me less than the next guy." Yep, someone really said this to me. He was a friend with a million dollar plus account at a big Wall Street firm and this was what he thought of the people who managed his money. He was married with a couple of children and one of the nicest people I've ever met. And while he had an exceedingly low level of trust for the people managing his money, he didn't seem to have any interest in looking for a different investment manager- someone he could trust in and believe was working in his best interests. I'm still trying to understand how someone could feel that way and yet continue to pay for "being screwed."
And finally, "You can't trust Steve, he works in finance." Sometimes it's the little things we say in passing, the jokes, that can really hurt. A friend of mine actually said this as we were playing a group game called "Saboteur." If you've ever played "Mafia," it's similar. Players are blindly assigned roles of "good dwarves" and "bad dwarves." The bad dwarves try and stop the good dwarves from reaching their goal- a pot of gold. But at the start of the game, nobody knows who is good and who is bad. I know he just said this in the fun of the game (and he was right, I was a saboteur that night ;) but it hurt to be labeled that way, based solely on my employment field. It's something I've always fought against. For a long time now, I've wanted to prove there was someone working in finance who could be trusted.
I share these experiences because they've shaped who I am and who I want my clients to know they're working with. When I look back over them it seems like the common theme is "trust." Is Steve trustworthy? I don't ever want any client to question that. And I hope you never do.