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Depending on your stage of life, current needs, or level of complexity, your financial advisor must be adept at playing a few key roles.

Coach

I’ve had some good coaches in my life. One of the things they did consistently well was provide highly directive leadership. They told us what we would be doing in practice. They told us what we would be doing in a game. They told me what I needed to do in order to become better. They didn’t mince words and provided structure.

Sometimes, you need your financial advisor to play the role of coach. You need them to tell you how to invest your money. You need them to tell you when you’re overspending or deviating from the plan. Sometimes you need them to say, “Absolutely not!” to one of your hair-brained ideas OR, on the contrary, “Absolutely, yes!” because it fits well with your plan.

A good financial advisor knows how to be highly directive when the person or situation calls for it. (And a good client has the humility to recognize when this is the case as well!)

Mentor

I’ve also had a few good mentors in my life. These people have patiently helped me understand what is going on, how to get it done and invited me into the decision-making process.

Sometimes, you need your financial advisor to play the role of mentor; someone who educates you on investment management and financial planning, who knows when to take their coach’s hat off (i.e., it’s not the time to tell you what to do) and who knows how to start a conversation in which you’ll be comfortable engaging. A mentor brings you far enough along that you can be part of the process and make decisions.

A good financial advisor knows how to be both highly directive and to take a step back in order to let the client become more involved in decision-making.

Therapist

I don’t know what your experience with therapists has been, but mine has been really good. The best therapists know how to ask really good questions, listen extraordinarily well, ask another really good question, listen really well… until suddenly you’re seeing the things you need to see. They also manage to steer clear from advice until asked, “Do you have any advice for me?”

Sometimes, you need your financial advisor to play the role of therapist. In that role, he or she needs to have the humility to drop both the coach’s and mentor’s hat in order to sit and listen well to what is going on in your life – not to provide you with immediate answers, but to think deeply about how your wealth connects to the meaning of your life.

A good financial advisor knows when to be quiet, ask the right questions, and patiently wait for you to choose the direction you want to go.

Putting it all Together

In addition to expertise in financial planning and investment management, your financial advisor needs to know what “advice” hat to wear at any given moment. The best financial advisors can recognize what their clients need and transition seamlessly from coach to mentor to therapist.


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