Going the extra mile: the rise of advisors as lifestyle coaches
There is a growing trend emerging among the advisory community, and it has little to do with markets or investments.
I recently met a very good friend and client of mine. We were discussing markets and the latest news about our homeland of Argentina when the conversation turned to his children’s college application process. We talked about it for a while, and I went through my own experience with my three children all going to different colleges.
Among the services I provide my clients are daily market update videos and weekly summaries, and my friend suggested that with all my years’ experience in the industry I should do videos on this theme of ‘lifestyle coaching’ and think about incorporating it into my business.
It got me thinking, what does ‘lifestyle coaching’ really consist of, especially in the advisory realm?
Financial advisors today are much closer to their clients than they were in the past and are in touch with them on a more regular basis than many other professionals: Clients see their doctors about once a year or only when they are sick, lawyers less frequently, architects and builders maybe once in a decade.
But their bankers are regular contacts. Also, financial advisors know that their clients talk to their fellow wealthy friends, sharing information and tips.
As my friend and fellow banker Miguel Osio likes to say, ‘I am not a banker, I am a happiness optimizer.’ That is often what we really do, helping our clients not only with how to manage their wealth but also with the best ways to invest it in the most rewarding manner. However, sometimes it is not even about how to invest but about life’s everyday issues and dilemmas.
With that thought in mind, I spoke to another friend about how I could approach the subject of lifestyle coaching. This client knew about my love for Russia, its music, history and literature. I have traveled there many times, for business and for pleasure, and he suggested that I should record a video for those clients and fans going to the soccer World Cup in June, offering up ideas about possible activities and cultural spots they should visit when they are not watching the games. (Full disclosure, I’m not a big soccer fan).
Finally, I started to understand the idea and how to approach it. Every advisor will likely have many areas of expertise or interests that they can share and that could be helpful to others. This can help your business grow too, giving you the opportunity to become a true advisor, bringing a holistic approach to the relationship and thus understanding more and more about the needs of your clients.
However, it’s important to stay in the areas where you have some expertise – otherwise, it could be too time-consuming. Remember, you don’t get paid for this. If asked about something you don’t know about, you could find someone with that expertise or experience among your peers in wealth management. I recall one client of mine who had a child with a serious illness. I remembered that another advisor I had encountered was in a similar position and I put them in contact. The client was forever thankful for that second opinion and then had the chance to consult with one of the top doctors in the field.
The first step is to start by making a list: sports, not-for-profit work, charities, religious affiliations, hobbies, life experiences such as putting children through school, marriage and grandchildren. Even experiences that are sad or stressful such as the death of loved ones, divorce, exile or significant loss of wealth could also be helpful to share with your clients.
Happy to help
Base it on your experience and make a list. In my case, I shot a series of videos on different topics that I will send privately to my clients. Like I said, this is just the beginning but I have already shot one about the World Cup in Russia and another one about real estate in Miami.
I am currently working on ones about cigars, fine wines and collecting fine art. These are just general lifestyle issues, but some others are more personal.
You do them one-on-one with your clients based on personal experiences, knowledge and needs. There are many opportunities for you to be helpful to your clients where it is not just about managing their money. And when you do it, your own personal brand increases in value. After all, you are the only professional that is in regular contact with these clients. That is worth a lot.