How advisors can improve their clients’ lives

Being a financial advisor is a tremendously rewarding career and I am so grateful I found this profession as early as I did.

People outside our industry think of advisors as stock pickers or investment gurus. While I suppose there are those who fancy themselves as such, what we do is so much more than that.

The fact is that savvy, forward-thinking, financial planning will have a much more profound influence on a person’s life than merely growing their bank account. The difference between good, bad or no advice can determine whether a person will have a future in which they can comfortably visit their grandchildren, contribute a down payment for a child’s first home or pay for a grandchild’s private school.

When we do our jobs the right way, it changes lives for the better.

Sure, helping clients achieve good investment returns is important, but the deepest impact we make is guiding our clients through various seasons of life. These seasons can be external, such as negotiating a bear market or recession, or they can be internal, such as navigating the economic aftermath of the death of a loved one or the loss of a job.

I was drawn to this line of work soon after I graduated from college. Like so many young people, I really didn’t know what to do. I had a degree in finance, and math always came easy to me, yet a career in accounting or corporate finance didn’t seem appealing. But I really enjoyed meeting new people and I learned that I derived a great amount of satisfaction from the sales aspect of steering clients toward making decisions that benefitted them.

In the beginning, the biggest challenge I faced, like so many folks in our industry, was that it was my responsibility to find new clients. The firm I went to work for hired 25 people the year I joined them. Just 365 days later, there were only five of us left. I can state emphatically that that chapter in my career was not something I enjoyed.

As I built up a solid core of clients, I was able to spend more time doing what really motivated me — helping clients with their financial plans.

I have been a practicing financial advisor for over three decades and have co-hosted a weekly call-in radio show for 28 years. That’s a lot of questions answered and financial plans completed. But while the financial topics have remained static, each individual and family I have partnered with has had their own unique set of goals, values, concerns, and priorities.

The real beauty of a great client-advisor relationship is designing a financial plan and tailoring the guidance so that you know with a high degree of certainty that your client can accomplish their goals. It is part science and part art, with a large dose of behavioral psychology added in for good measure.

Here’s a bow to our profession and to every advisor who does things the right way. Never forget the important service that we provide for others.

Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with approximately $16 billion in AUM.

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