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I recently saw an ad that really helped me frame the difference between the traditional Wall Street approach to planning and the more holistic experience we feel best suits our clients here at TAAG. It was a television commercial for one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms essentially touting that they had the right answer for any question a client might present.

That’s quite a claim.

I understand their intent, but think starting from a benchmark where you must provide the one and only right answer presents a number of challenges, not the least of which is that it claims an expertise that no earthly mortal possesses. Most of us agree that nobody has all the answers. In fact, there are plenty of questions where “right” doesn’t necessarily exist.

We take a different approach.

I’ll defer a bit to the advertisement as they only had 30 seconds to draw in the viewer and didn’t have the luxury of a 500 word blog to explain. So, what would I say in just 30 seconds? Rather than saying we have all the answers, I would say we know which questions to ask and then have the discipline to shut up and listen.

Listening provides the insight we need to understand where our clients are today and where they want to go. We can then use our expertise and access to research, technology and other data to assess any roadblocks that exist and build a planning process that ensures we continue to ask the right questions and recommend the minor adjustments as needed so that the client ultimately achieves their goals.

When it comes down to the math of reaching a numerical goal, sure, we can help get a client to the correct answer. But, it may not be their best answer. Instead, it’s best to walk through various scenarios and explain the impact of a decision on the other goals in a client’s overall plan. This allows the client to clearly evaluate the financial answer while also weighing emotions and other areas that may be involved in reaching their best decision.

Admitting there aren’t always right answers can be a challenge to our egos, but a lifesaver to our stress levels and long term plans. Constantly seeking “right” disallows any room for adjustments or listening for additional inputs that not only help us make informed decisions, but allow for some happiness along the way.

So, there’s not always one clear path to a solution? Maybe this has some applications that would be helpful to our friends in Washington? Oh, never mind . . . another blog, another day.

Have a great week!