Lessons from Shakespeare on financial advisors: Part 3: “Lend me your ears”
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series we discussed how, 400 years after his death, we can still take lessons from Shakespeare when it comes to choosing a trusted advisor and we introduced the concept of the trusted advisor. In Part 3 we discuss the importance of strong communication and trust.
“All the world’s a stage”
“All the world’s a stage” and the skills of communication and persuasion are important themes throughout Shakespeare’s plays. In his eulogy for Caesar, Marc Antony successfully rouses the citizens of Rome by skillfull repetition of the term “He is an honourable man” to demolish Brutus. Similarly, Henry V’s rallying cry to his troops at Agincourt “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother” still stirs the heart today.
While we don’t routinely encourage our clients to shed their blood with us, we think the client / advisor relationship is very much like a partnership or a marriage. Open, two-way, clear communication and including each other in decision making are always key to a happy and strong ongoing relationship.
While you would not expect your advisor to have the soaring rhetoric of a Henry V, Churchill or a Martin Luther King Jr, you should still expect them to be effective communicators. When you meet a potential advisor you should be able to detect an immediate rapport between the two of you. If it is not there at the beginning you will struggle to develop it over time.
A quality advisor should be able to actively listen to what you want and convey to you in plain English how their advice will add value and achieve your financial goals. They should have a communication style that suits you – you may seek a straight-to-the-point, investing talk only advisor or you may seek a friendly advisor who chats more about finance and other holistic financial planning issues.
Your advisor must earn your trust
The failures of financial institutions, rampant consumer abuse, and widespread investor anger against the financial planning industry have created a lack of public trust in financial planners. In recent years some of our fellow financial planners have done things that are unethical and wrong. As financial planners ourselves, this saddens and embarrasses us.
Only the ability of Australians to identify and place their trust in competent, ethical and professional financial planners will re-build their confidence in financial planning. To achieve this, we need financial planners who act more clearly in the best interests of their clients and treat them fairly.
With this in mind, employing and trusting an advisor can be a large and daunting step to take. In reality, trust can only be earned over time.
 Henry V, Act IV, Scene 3
‘Part 3: Lend me your ears‘ is Part 3 of a 6 part Series. Keep an eye out for ‘Part 4: Trust your advisor as they are YOUR advisor‘