Hello SOTGC community,
Stephen Covey wrote a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People based on his observation of some of the most successful people in the world. This post is about how my business started out…by utilizing Habit #5.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. I have spent a long time learning how to be an empathetic listener. I consider it the most challenging form of listening because in most cases we listen with the intent to respond, instead of the intent to understand. Before my husband and I got married, he was frustrated with how I couldn’t empathize with how difficult it was being a single dad. I tried to be helpful but I really had no frame of reference since I myself had not gone through divorce nor raised a child. He often rejected my “parenting” advice not because it was illogical, but because it was dispensed from my mind, and not my heart.
My decision-making is typically driven by logic and analysis, not by emotion. Perhaps my affinity for math and data has something to do with it. I earned my B.S. degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where I specialized in Finance. I became skilled in the mathematical models pertaining to capital asset pricing, portfolio management, probability and statistics, and my favorite — derivatives and options pricing.
I believe I have more specialized technical knowledge about how financial markets work than the majority of financial advisors, stock brokers and other money managers. I thought when I entered the money management business that those technical skills would give me an edge. Sure, it adds to my credibility, but it doesn’t get the clients in the door. What really matters to potential clients is what Stephen Covey outlined as: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.
In just the past two weeks, several women approached me about potentially moving money from their current financial adviser to my colleagues and myself at Coastwise Capital Group. When I sat with them and showed them how to analyze the performance of their current portfolios, I had no doubt that the investment strategies we use at Coastwise would be a better fit for them. But the specific nuts and bolts about how we use stocks, ETFs, and options to generate income and provide downside protection wasn’t their primary concern. What they really wanted to know is that their adviser is listening — REALLY LISTENING — to their needs, goals, hopes and fears. They don’t want to be judged, they don’t want to be made to feel small, and they don’t want to be ignored.
Writing the chapter entitled “An Allowance to Last a Lifetime” in the book Empower: Women’s Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery and Triumph was a huge step for me. In that chapter, I sought to be understood. I wanted readers to know about my mother’s relationship with men and money, and why it was so important for me to do everything possible to become financially independent. I wanted to share my story about how I took a $1,600 inheritance from my grandmother, bought my first shares of stock at age 24, and became a millionaire before the age of 40. Why am I in the investment advisory business? Because I achieved success and believe other women can achieve the same if they educate themselves about investing, develop a relationship with a trusted adviser, take manageable risks, and forgo material things now so that they may enjoy financial security later.
The women who have read my chapter know that if I can express myself as a human who has feelings and emotions (instead of being a one-dimensional finance whiz) and they can understand where I am coming from, then they feel confident that I will be able to understand where they are coming from. By having empathy for each other, we can build trust. When I understand what my client wants and needs, then she can understand the value I bring to her.
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