I am a financial planner, not a psychiatrist, but I do know that your net worth will rise to meet your self-worth only if your self-worth rises to accept what can be yours. – Suze Orman
Having been in the financial services industry for over 25 years, I’ve learned no matter how analytical and logical this profession purports to be, it comes down to relationships.
As a female advisor, I’ve been keenly aware of the need to be professional. Yet for me, I thought that meant shutting down my personal side and using only my intellect. I got very adept at masking my feelings and running my life on autopilot.
I didn’t want to delve into the personal side of the equation with either my clients or myself. After all, I rationalized, such conversations were private; I didn’t want to be nosy, so I didn’t dare go to such unfamiliar territory. What I didn’t realize was my inability to connect with the so-called soft issues was rapidly eroding my ability be resourceful and creative.
Ultimately, it was making me a less effective advisor.
I realized I had to get past my credentials and experience to be able to truly connect with my clients. Being willing to start and stay in tough, emotional conversations took a tremendous amount of courage in a field where soft issues are dismissed as philosophical, and daring to voice them is criticized as too feminine.
For example, I think back to a tech-savvy engineer who came into my office in January 2009. He made it quite clear he was interviewing a number of potential candidates to be his advisor. He arrived with his laptop in tow, and opened it up to his list of questions. He had lost a great deal of money trying to manage his finances on his own. He needed assistance and wanted to pick the best advisor. He asked what stocks I liked, what I thought of gold, and where the dollar was going.
I responded to many of his questions by saying, “I haven’t got a clue.” He seemed taken aback and closed his laptop. Others had given him analytical opinions and answers, while I merely shrugged and smiled.
Yet I wanted to engage in a meaningful conversation with this restless, agitated young man. I asked him why money was important to him. What is it that lights him up? What did he want out of life? Who was he becoming? He sat transfixed and speechless. I thought he would grab his laptop and run away screaming.
Then, we began to speak deeply about his hopes and fears. I wasn’t surprised when he asked whether I would consider taking him on as a client. I accepted the invitation because he was willing to engage in a meaningful conversation.
As a result of such deep dialogue, the bonds I formed with clients were now with the whole person. It was the emotional issues that were driving the bus. My clients weren’t looking to connect with my credentials or the analytical side of me. They wanted to connect with me.
I remained resourceful by daring to ask the bigger questions. It was not in trying to get my questions answered that I made the connections, but in daring to ask such seemingly outrageous questions in the first place: questions that arose spontaneously in the moment, due to my genuine curiosity.
Noreen Mejias-Bennett is a former financial advisor with a large brokerage, and is now a Certified CODE Model Coach™ and an Affiliate with the WEL-Systems® Institute, specializing in life transition. To learn more, go here.