It’s ski season, and I love to ski.
This year I decided I needed new ski boots. Good ski days are all about having good boots.
What I didn’t expect was to chat with my new boot-fitter, Mandy, about the parallels in our business.
(For those of you who are not skiers: Believe it or not, there are people – seriously, “boot-fitters” – who specialize in putting people into good boots.)
Here’s taught she me about my clients.
Finding a Good Boot-fitter (or Financial Planner) Is Important and Not Always Easy.
Typically, my clients are do-it-yourselfer types that have been managing their finances on their own for a long time.
Most of my clients come to me when their lives have reached a level of complexity and they want outside help.
Because they’ve done it on their own for so long, they have no idea how to hire a financial planner, and their anxiety and fears about trusting someone else to help them are close to all-time highs.
This is where asking for referrals and slowing down the process is so important.
I asked several people who they recommended as a boot-fitter. I got several names. I picked the one that felt right. If Mandy didn’t meet my needs, I was prepared to walk out the door.
The same goes for finding a financial planner. It takes time to find someone you like and trust. Be prepared to say “no” to someone and start over if you have to.
Otherwise, you’re second-guessing the process the whole time. That’s not a recipe for success.
The Foundation Matters.
I’ll repeat: Good ski days are all about having good boots.
Sure, skis can matter, just like having warm and dry clothes matters. But boots will make or break a day of skiing.
Most skiers underestimate the value of great boots.
Similarly, most people will also underestimate the power of solid financial habits that are the foundation to financial planning. Bad habits will break a solid financial plan.
Most of my clients have a strong financial foundation, even if it happened by accident. Typically they have good habits: they’ve managed their careers, lived within their means, saved money, etc.
Strangely, they often don’t give themselves enough credit for the work they have done. These habits, though, are the same ones that will ensure success going forward and probably until they die.
Sure, I’m going to add my expertise, refine the overall strategy, find places to save them money in taxes, and all that. But it only works with solid financial habits.
Women (and even men) Are Tired of the Mansplaining.
Mandy shared with me how women come to her for fittings because they are tired of male boot-fitters mansplaining and talking down to them.
When she hears this from new clients, she quips back with, “Well, my name is MAN-dy, and I’m probably going to mansplain to you while I’m man-handing your feet.”
Everyone has a good laugh.
She’s not wrong, though. Mandy taught me more about ski boots in an hour than I could possibly have ever wanted to know. “I want you to be an informed consumer,” she said.
About 80% of my clients are from what I call “women-driven households.” People frequently comment that if there’s a woman in the household, it’s run by her.
Everyone has a good laugh.
Frequently I hear stories from female clients about how they were ignored in meetings with previous male advisors or how they felt talked down to and mansplained to.
While I’m super geeky and can get into the weeds on investments or planning or tax (I love tax!!), I do my level best to keep it understandable and practical. Even if the woman in the household is not the most financial savvy one, there’s no reason she can’t learn enough to be an integral part of the decision-making.
(And, by the way: May those male advisors keep doing that. It’s bad for the industry, but it’s good for my business. And it kills me that my word processing software has accepted mansplaining as a word. Not one autocorrect on that one!)
Clients Mostly Want a Good Outcome.
After Mandy’s extensive boot lesson, I plaintively asked her, “Is it even possible for me to love ski boots?” To which she said, “Yes, I believe that’s possible. That’s why you’re here.”
I almost broke out into tears.
I have clients that want to meet with me annually because they want to hear that they can, in fact, retire one day (or what I call Phase 3 of life).
Some of them do break out in tears.
Mandy probably loves talking about foot volume and brand specifications the way I love to talk about some technical tax concept.
We also both know that ultimately, we are there to get our clients a good outcome – whether it’s great boots and a great days of skiing, or a great financial result.
If you want to talk ski boots, let me turn you onto Mandy. If you want to talk financial planning, please reach out.
Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.