For those of you that have enlisted in the military—or hired a personal trainer—you know what boot camp is all about. The first day is the one that you will never forget because it was hard both physically and mentally. You probably found out that you weren’t as strong as you thought you were or maybe that you didn’t prepare well enough. However, as painful as boot camp is, it makes you stronger in the long run. Traditional boot camp requires you to first break down your mind and body in order to build them back up. This has a detoxifying effect that enables you to build greater strength and clarity.
Working with a new financial advisor, believe it or not, can be a similar experience. It is common for most people to have some level of emotional duress when thinking about money. This is only compounded when investors come us seeking to break their bad investing habits or when emotionally recovering from painful experience with their former advisor or broker.
Within this context, there are benefits to going to financial planning boot camp, so to speak. We find that by helping new clients break down their bad habits and recover from poor financial relationships, their financial plan can be a form of ‘financial therapy’. This sets them up for long-term prosperity that is more self-sustaining. In other words, a client grows to be more empowered to manage their day-to-day finances. This enables us to provide more strategic advice, which is of greater value anyway.
Perhaps the greatest difference between an actual boot camp and a financial planning boot camp is the fact that we must listen to our client more than a drill sergeant ever would. Initially, asking the right questions leads to the discovery of what lead the client to this moment in time and it typically has nothing to do with investments.
We find that by asking the right questions and listening, most clients are able to accurately reflect upon what went right or wrong in their previous relationships. They are smart enough to know that something was amiss and simply need some direction to move forward. This element of critical thinking is the boot camp aspect that allows an investor to be broken down so they can be built back up with a financial plan.
The sting of financial pain can lead investors to a better place. Part of this is finding the right financial advisor who can help an investor recover from previous mistakes or from a poor relationship. The first step towards improving an investor’s well-being, however, is for us to ask questions and listen intently. This type of boot camp sets the stage for financial empowerment and well-being. As financial advisors, we experience divorce, death, business success (and failure), and personal growth from the passenger seat of our clients’ lives.
And it all starts with financial planning boot camp.