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Embracing the Emotional Side of Planning With Beverly Flaxington

It’s a challenge for advisors to embrace the more emotional side of planning. But your clients are acutely aware of all the emotional issues tied to their money—which, for them, are just as important as any functional financial jobs you do.

On this episode of Elementality, Reese welcomes Beverly Flaxington, founder of The Collaborative, to discuss the therapeutic side of advice. Advisors have sometimes been called financial physicians, after all, you know finance like a physician knows medicine. But the attentive doctor is also known for their “good bedside manner.” And just like a conscientious doctor, to really know your client you need to learn to ask the right questions and then listen empathetically as you get them to share their story.

 


Podcast Transcript

Beverly Flaxington:
Most people who do take some sort of a financial track in life, and for the large part of people who wind up in the advisory business, it’s a love of numbers, investments, whatever, this is not thought to be an emotional business. It’s so nice ’cause it’s black and white, and the numbers at or they don’t… The returns are there, and yet we absolutely know right from behavioral finance and everything else that it’s quite emotional, but I think there’s a hesitancy to admit it maybe… And address it.

Abby Morton:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Abby Morton, CFP and producer of our podcast here at Elements. I love being a financial planner, but I know it’s a challenging profession as well, that’s why the number one goal of our show is to help you prosper as an advisor as you better connect with your clients. We know your time is very valuable. Plan on a good return when you spend it here with us.

Reese Harper:
Welcome to Elementality, everybody! I’m your host, Reese Harper, excited for a really cool guest interview today that actually correlates with my most recent post on my advisor substack. If you haven’t joined theadvisor.substack.com, it’s where my late night ramblings go about, things that very few people are interested in, except for financial advisors, and this week, I wrote one about emotional jobs that I feel like my title was a little bit crickets ’cause I didn’t get a lot of people that interested in it, and it made me realize I needed to name it something sexier and more interesting, but it’s one of my most favorite topics. And I found someone who I feel like is uniquely suited to chat about this topic, and really look forward to introducing some of you to Beverly Flaxington. Beverly, welcome to the show.

Beverly Flaxington:
Really happy to be here Reese.

Reese Harper:
Why do you think no one read my article about this topic, Beverly? They read a lot of my stuff and then this… I was just like, I think the title I called it was, “Why your clients care more about the emotional jobs than you think they do,” and it was like everyone was like… They wanted a tax tip, I don’t know, but it was… Do you find that this subject is important, but not always exciting. I’m curious what your experience has been.

Beverly Flaxington:
So I don’t know so much that it’s not exciting. I think it’s daunting. I think it’s daunting. So you think about this, and most people who do take some sort of a financial track in life, and for the large part of people who wind up in the advisory business, it’s a love of numbers, investments, whatever, this is not thought to be an emotional business. It’s so nice ’cause it’s black and white, and the numbers add or they don’t… The returns are there, and yet, we absolutely know right from behavioral finance and everything else that it’s quite emotional, but I think there’s a hesitancy to admit it maybe… And address it.

Reese Harper:
Last week, I wrote an article about the functional side of Financial Planning, which we are calling functional jobs like reduce my taxes or monitor the change in my net worth or increase the returns on my investments, those are very functional things, and the subsequent… And that was just lights out almost a thousand reads, like it was… People were just really perusing through it, I got a lot of private emails, a lot of conversation about it, then I posted one that I thought was the most important dimension. I would rank these emotional jobs from the client’s point of view far more, at least equal to, if not more important, I would… The guess I have is that they’re as important, if not more important, than the functional side of the jobs that financial advisors do, and yet I do think that it’s challenging for financial advisors to embrace that softer kind of communications and emotional side of this business. Why do you think that’s… I guess, how would you look at the… From a client’s perspective, do you think these are kind of equivalent, the functional and the emotional… Or is one more important than the other? I’m really curious what your experience has shown you…

Beverly Flaxington:
So there’s actually a really good… I think it’s kind of a white paper. It’s called the value of premium wealth management. CFA Institute put it out, and I have to tell you Reese, it was like… I felt like, “Boy, okay, I’ve stayed around talking about this long enough, but now even the CFA Institute is saying, EQ is as important as IQ.” And that’s basically what they publish. And I think that if you simply look at this as taxes, risk management, how to bring your debt picture in alignment with whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, and you’re not paying attention to what the person on the other side is probably not telling you is… I call it dropping the Nuggets and you’re not following them and you’re staying on this technical path, you’re not gonna really be able to get to know what’s going on with that person because let’s face it, what is closer to our hearts? Our health, our families, money… It’s the top three, and for some men, not even necessarily always in that order, sometimes money trumps the other two, so how can we not admit that the emotional human relational, who are you, what do you care about side is at least as important as the other stuff, if not more.

Reese Harper:
So what… You just broke it down into three groups, you said the people… I’m hearing people, family relationships, I’m hearing money and your biological health were three things that… Why did you… I guess what in my mind, I would have gone to the American Psychology Association’s survey of stress. When you said that thinking… ’cause those are kind of the top three that kind of shuffle places around. During COVID health kind of popped up a little bit, but money is normally kind of the highest stressor. Were you referencing just experience when you said those three things, or in your mind is that research backed?

Beverly Flaxington:
So I would say, honestly, a little bit of both. Because think about this, so we make decisions all day long that are important things around our family, we might not connect in the fact that there’s a money element to it, but there is a money element to it, same with our health. In fact, think about the planning for retirement, what’s the biggest fear now people have is that medical bills will be something that consumes everything maybe that they plan for. So my point about it is that we tend to strip it out and talk about it as if it’s the separate kind of technical thing. I’m going to plan for retirement, how much money do I spend each month? I wanna buy that home, how do I leverage debt?

Beverly Flaxington:
It’s not separate from everything else that matters so much to us, and I feel like in the meetings that I have sat in with advisors, the agendas that I have read over the years, the conversations they’ve had, they do separate it like, here, we’re going to have this financial. Reese, one time I was trying to… I was working at a large organization, they had a lot of different things they could bring to bear, and I drew this little stick figure up on the board, and I basically walked through all the stages of life, everything that we encounter throughout our lives, and I was like “What can you not help with?” You can help with everything, but don’t you wanna know the nuances and what’s happening to the stick figure all throughout their lives? So that interconnectedness… I feel like it gets missed…

Reese Harper:
If you break these jobs that we do with money into functional jobs or emotional jobs… I’m just gonna throw an example out there. Like a functional job would be, I wrote… I think last time examined my retirement accounts for suitability and funding. That’s a functional job. I got and an emotional job would be like… The client wants to let’s say, feel confident that I’m heading in the right direction. Those are two really distinct categories of things, and the client often doesn’t have awareness of the functional side, they just… They’re not aware of it, but they are really aware of the emotional side of how do they feel, and I don’t think we realize that in many cases, that’s probably why they hired the advisor to begin with, it wasn’t for the… They might have set a functional thing, but I don’t know that they actually hired someone because of those functional jobs… I’m curious. Your thought on that.

Beverly Flaxington:
I feel like the functional piece is kind of table stakes, if I go to your RIA, if I go to a large organization and if I walk into my bank, wherever I might be going, I am going to have a level of assumption that you’ve got some knowledge to help me with the functional aspects. Now, maybe you love annuities and this person over here only does certain manager by manager portfolios, whatever it is. So behind the scenes, we all know there’s a lot of different things going on, but I don’t think the average client just comes to you because they assume you have a level of expertise, so where’s the difference? The difference is how you treat me, the questions you ask me, how much you care about me as a person, whether you’re listening to me with empathy, whether when I care…

Reese Harper:
There’s a lot here. I’m gonna pause you on the list ’cause I wanna go into these one by one and before we dive into those, I wanna ask you something that you said, which is the kind of table stakes here, ’cause I’ve had a couple of conversations this week on this little point, I’ve been banging the drum on emotional jobs, and I had an advisor tell me, I don’t think they come to me though originally because of an emotional job, when they show up on my doorstep, they’re showing up there because of some functional thing, and I kind of think that’s a little bit of a misunderstanding, but I do think there’s a lot of advisors who think that way? I’m curious, do you think clients actually show up on the door step for a functional reason, if advisors are feeling that way, I guess, how would you respond?

Beverly Flaxington:
So I think you have to almost parse this apart a little bit. So let’s say, I’m wondering, I hate my job. I’m wondering if I can retire in the next five years, I don’t know how to run the numbers and know… So I come to you, in theory, you could say, that’s a functional reason, I come to you, you’re gonna help me look at how I’ve invested what I spend. Okay, but let’s think for a minute about the emotional component to the idea that number one, I hate my job, number two, I’m thinking five years, can I get out and scared ’cause… I don’t know. I think to say that we can parse it apart or people in transition, right?

Beverly Flaxington:
A lot of people, a lot of advisors will say, I work with people in transition, when you are a transition, I’m getting divorced, I lost my spouse, I just got this great new job with this unbelievable benefits package, and I wanna know how to leverage it. How can we as human being say that there is not a huge emotional component attached to that?

Reese Harper:
Yes and I wanna… Yes, agree with all of that. And wanna add one thing that I thought of this week that I think seconds what you’re saying, which is, when the idea of, I got five years to retire, I need to run the numbers, ’cause I hate my job. When they have that idea. There’s a lot of choices that that person that has in that moment to decide how they’re gonna hire for that job, that meaning they can go on the internet and search for a calculator, they can go search for a piece of software, they can Google like how to calculate this thing.

Reese Harper:
I’m telling you that most of them probably did something before they showed up on your doorstep, they may have tried to find the answer to that functional job before they just call you, but even if they didn’t, then when they go through that process, they try to get the functional job solved some other way, they end up either calling you, which to me says there was something emotional that actually they’re hiring for, not something functional, because they wouldn’t have called you if this was a functional thing. They’re either… They’re saying, I don’t feel confident with my ability to process information or I don’t feel capable of picking between all these alternatives that I see, or I don’t feel like I know whether I’m parsing all this information and prioritizing it correctly, there’s a million emotions they probably felt and even though they’re telling you, when you talk to them that they’re there because they’re trying to calculate some kind of five-year retirement plan, it’s not actually the reason they’re there, they’re there because they couldn’t find any other functional way to get this job done.

Reese Harper:
And so they found you who… And you’re either gonna fill that emotional need that they came to you for, or you’re gonna fall into the trap of trying to answer it functionally. And if you do, they’re not gonna hire you. [laughter] Anyway, I wanna get your thoughts on that, ’cause that kinda was new for me this week, I don’t think anyone read that when I posted it. But anyway…

Beverly Flaxington:
I have to just… And I’ll do a truncated version, but a lot of times when we do, we offer learning opportunities for advisors on some of this, deepening relationships, I take them through this process, Reese where I feel like this is the best way to offer up what you’re getting at, so I’ll ask them about difficult clients. So everybody has them, they’re pushy, they question what you’re doing, they argue about fees. So we go through this whole thing, and I ask them what’s your response when you have a difficult client? Well, you have to show them the error of their ways, you have to remind them about… Right, you have to present them. Psychological theory tells us that under every negative emotion at a base level is fear here, and ultimately, if you follow it through, I’m afraid of dying, but what are people with money afraid of, I’m gonna lose my reputation, I’m not be able to feed my kids, I’m gonna be eating cat food on the corner, and I try to get advisors to see how many of you have ever had clients that can run out of money if they tried? Many advisors have…

Beverly Flaxington:
But they’re still afraid. So this is what gets missed. So I’m like, “But so here you are logic responding to emotion, and how does that go?” ‘Cause underneath it, I’m afraid. And now you’re showing me from a logical perspective. Have you ever had a personal argument with somebody who’s pretty upset and you’re like, “Hey, calm down, let me show you the error of your ways”? And this is what we do in this business, we think that it can all get solved by, the numbers look good, the tax savings are there, the portfolio is the way we want it to be, and we’re missing this entire undercurrent that’s going on, which is I am having an emotional like that’s the extreme, now I’m a difficult…

Reese Harper:
There’s something I’m feeling…

Beverly Flaxington:
Yes.

Reese Harper:
Yeah I’m hiring for some emotional job that I’m… And they won’t… They’re not gonna come to you and tell you that, no one’s gonna come to you with that much self-awareness and say, “You know, I’ve realized that I lack confidence to pick between complex alternatives or… ” They’re going to say something that preserves their, especially if they’re a confident kind of wealthier person, they’re gonna say something that feels pragmatic and practical and logical and functional, no one wants to really hire a Financial Therapist… It’s kind of like you’re supposed to make me more money anyway.

Beverly Flaxington:
But think about it, we really think about the dynamics that go on, we know… And I have a lot of friends who in fact our therapists, right. So we joke about this, what is the biggest problem for most couples? It is… Well, I mean, there’s other things, but money is in the top three…

Reese Harper:
Yeah, it, it said like sexual dysfunction, money dysfunction, like some kind of philosophy about life, we’re going different directions, but money is up there.

Beverly Flaxington:
Money is always up there. So here I come with my spouse to meet with you, my advisor, if you really have no ability to recognize the emotional job that you have…

Reese Harper:
This it right? This is the reason they’re there, they are not there for a functional reason. Yeah, yeah.

Beverly Flaxington:
Right. And so… And you think about how many… We have a lot of our advisors, they work with family offices, very wealthy, multigenerational, the parents won’t tell the kids how much money they’re… Come on, how can we say that these are not the underlying human dynamics that really dictate what is the level of that relationship gonna be with that advisor?

Reese Harper:
But we really early on, I had kind of a debate with my development team, that I don’t think I understood why I was feeling this way, but we’re trying to build a prompt that was just the simplest, stupidest thing that could possibly work to do some testing, and my gut feel was anything that client can tell me that tells a story. And I didn’t know why I was feeling this, but I was just saying like, “Look, if they enter a house… Instead of asking like, I can do two things, I could ask them… The system could ask them about the value of the home and does it match up with Zillow or what’s that real value, how much mortgage, how much expenses have you put on the remodel and if you kept track of your receipts or all these functional things about the house?” Or I could just say a question like, “Tell me a little bit about why this neighborhood or why that… Why that house? Just tell me more, I’m just curious about that house.” And I didn’t realize at the time, this is like a year ago, but I was really feeling like how do you take a computer and turn it into something that feels like a little bit more human, and I just think advisors don’t give the client a chance to tell their story enough, and when they tell their story about anything, it could be as simple as like, why that house…

Reese Harper:
But man, if they start telling that story, I think you win the client, that’s when you get the relationship, and I’m curious how you respond to that or what your thoughts are around this, letting clients share… Letting them tell a story. How would you describe that in your work?

Beverly Flaxington:
So I actually oftentimes say that I really wish I could plant a seed for genuine curiosity, because I think that when you’re really in people, and I wanna be clear too Reese, I’m not diminishing, I’m married to a CFA. I know how… I did institutional product sales, I did investment product development, I’ve worked in RIAs, I come from the business, I understand the complexity and the technical piece, and I’m not suggesting that all of that is… And also, of course, you better know your stuff, you better keep up on what’s going on, you… I’m just saying that I think ultimately, something as simple as listening with empathy… I have sat in meetings, we’ve done practice sessions, in the learning experiences, we’ve offered, someone will say something and the advisor is ready with an answer.

Reese Harper:
They’ve already got it. And they’re just ready to just open up, right.

Beverly Flaxington:
It’s the classic listening to answer, not listening to understand, and it’s like… And I’m sitting there and I’m like, “Okay, that person just dropped an unbelievably valuable nugget in your lab, be interested.” Follow with a piece of yarn and unroll that ball a little bit because they want to tell you something… I often talk about the idea is the presenting problem in psychological theory, so we were talking earlier about therapists. Go to the therapist. A lot of times when I first go, I’m uncomfortable or I’m not in touch with my real issues or I’m comfortable saying this thing, but I don’t know about that thing, so… What does a good therapist? Do they ask question after question, after question and they are sincerely interested in your answer. And this is what I try to say to advisors, try a little bit of that… Just try a little bit of like what’s underneath that? That’s really interesting. Share some more about that. You’ll learn such valuable insight. And then Reese the technical piece, that functional piece you’re talking about, you’re gonna be so much better at delivering the answer because you have better information to work with.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, I just gotta be honest with you, I thought I would consider myself like someone with a pretty high emotional IQ, just because I was a music major in my undergrad, I’m an artist, but as an adult being married, raising kids, I’ve got four kids, and I realized how I was really not doing a good job at listening, even though I had a high emotional IQ, I found myself in this… I don’t know if the business I trained it into me, but learning to continue to just shut up and sit there and ask one more question, and usually it was like learning to say what else, or is there anything else. And man, a whole hour will go by now, and I’m a talker, as you can tell. I’ve interrupted you a bunch on this podcast already, and it’s hard for me to shut up and sit there and just listen, but man, I can ask two or three questions about… Tell me a little bit about this. I’m curious to know a little bit about that. And then if the only other question I’d say is, “And what else is there anything else?” Or there, the whole hour goes by and I haven’t said a thing, but man, they feel great. Oh my gosh, the client is just like loving my advice, the best advisor ever. I’m like, I haven’t shared any advice, I have no functional jobs I’ve done, but I just feel like most… It’s not that this isn’t a functional career, but when you have the privilege of getting someone’s face time, which is really rare.

Reese Harper:
I would just encourage people to use that for these emotional jobs, and you can do the functional stuff via technology and systems and email outreach, but man, if you got someone’s attention, I just think that’s a time for these emotional jobs to be served the most…

Abby Morton:
Do you ever get out of a client meeting and feel a little frustrated because you spent the whole time getting updated and more accurate data? Do you leave feeling like you want to have another meeting just to further develop your relationship with them? The Elements financial planning system assists you in taking care of all the functional jobs that need to be done in advance, and because the technology was created with the client in mind, they are more motivated to come prepared, that means you can spend additional time actually listening to what your client needs. To learn more schedule a time to talk to us today by going to getelements.com/meet.

Beverly Flaxington:
I was having this analogous thought while you’re talking Reese, I can remember once doing a session with a bunch of advisors in this large organization, they were undergoing a lot of change, so I just simply asked a question, I said, “Before we dive into, or here, you know, tell me a little about the obstacles, what are you guys dealing with?” So they started to open about their obstacles, and I was sincerely interested in it, you shouldn’t be faking it either, but I’m asking them more.

Beverly Flaxington:
Well, anyway, we go through this whole session, we end up doing what we’re there to do, but later they practically lined up just to say, “You know what, no one ever listens to us. Thank you for just letting us share and listening.” And I just thought that so summed up the human condition. We are dealing with people all day long, but no one’s ever really getting a bit of a glimpse into who are we and listening to that. And my finances are everything. Are my kids gonna be able to go to school? Will they ever be able to buy a house? Can I pay off my own mortgage, will I be able to travel? What… You think about it is connected to so many things that have such emotional intensity for us, and now I’m with an advisor who doesn’t even wanna ask me why I picked this house and that’s all of our favorite topics… Right. It’s me, ask me questions about me. Unlikely gonna share. Now with that said, I have someone sitting across from me and there’s some hard charging person and they tell me they have 15 minutes and they simply wanna know what my process is and whether I can get them the returns?

Beverly Flaxington:
Okay, maybe I’m going to read the room and I’m not gonna start asking a whole bunch of soft questions, but I also have to question how good of a client is that gonna be for me over time.

Reese Harper:
Even most high-charging, hard charging CEO types, they love telling their story about themselves, they just love talking about themselves, so you just gotta get them to ask the right question, right?

Beverly Flaxington:
That’s the key. But that’s what I do really appreciate about what you’re doing that with your software, because what I’ve observed and we work with some of the planning software providers, we see every angle, and the thing is you can give people the… You can give advisors the inputs, right, here’s the you… You can change the tax thing, they’re gonna move from here in Massachusetts to Florida, it’s gonna be a big in impact. So you’ve got all of these fields, but I think what the systems don’t do is help the advisor with How do I engage with this person, this client in a way that takes that moving from Massachusetts to Florida away from simply a change in the tax rate, and more of a discussion of, “Oh, do you have family in Florida? Oh, but you mentioned your elderly parents, would you bring them with you? Why Florida?” It’s like it gives us so much richness for all this dialogue that would give me some insight into someone, and yet we’re so focused on the fields, we’re not focused on any back story, as you said earlier, behind the fields. Yeah.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. And man, I just feel really humbled about the opportunity that we have right now to build something from scratch, like we’re building, where we don’t have the baggage of saying, ‘Well, we have this existing job to be done, which is I generate Montecarlo simulation and put a 50-page PDF in front of somebody.” That used to be the job… It used to be like, we gotta sell a plan, a plan is a binder. I’m like, “We gotta sell it so you can’t print it unless all the data is in there.” But the truth is, these relationships were never… They were never… That job to be done was never what the client wanted, it was just what the advisor wanted to help them feel good about their fee, but it wasn’t what the client was asking for, the client was never asking for, prove to me that my future through a set of forecasts is going to be at this dollar amount. I don’t even think the richest people… I work with care about that. So I just feel like it’s a luxury to be able to back up and say, “What is it that we can do with technology to give the humans the best chance of just being the best humans they can be, and make this data part be like a little less loud?” Anyway.

Beverly Flaxington:
And give them some guidance. I… Just two super, super quick stories, but I just think there are such microcosms of what goes on. So my parents are elderly, they’ve never had a ton of money, but for them, they sold a house, had a few hundred thousand a lot for them, so they work with an advisor. So I wrote a book a few years ago, Pocket Guide to sales for advisors. My father’s so proud, he says, “I’m gonna send this to my advisor.” I said, “Sure, that’d be great. I’ve never even heard you tell me this guy’s name, I have no idea what… ” Anyway, he sends it to this guy, and the guy finally reaches out to me and he says, “Oh, you know, and if you ever have any needs.” And I’m like, “So, just so you know, I could buy and sell my parents several times over. I have lots more money than they do, I’ve already done all my work with someone else because you never even cared enough to reach out to me when you first started working with my parents to figure out who am I, and what dynamics do I have with them?” So I was just like, “Here I am literally writing about this stuff, like this is what I do, but here’s my parents own advisor, never thinking about, “Huh, Gee, I wonder if they have adult children who might be interested?”

Beverly Flaxington:
And then I had another situation working with these folks who deal with elder care, and the woman is a care manager, and she was talking about this wealthy couple advisor helped them save and save and save. So that when they finally were ready to move into assisted living, they had all sorts of money and they could go into the nicest place in Florida, on the beach, beautiful place. The wife is so depressed that they’re actually worrying that she’s suicidal because she didn’t actually really ever wanna move, and she felt pushed into it because gosh, here they’ve saved all this money. They’ve been planning for it. Well, they ended up Reese, firing the advisor because the guy never bothered to talk to them about what do you really want. And so I just… These are the things that we talk about what the work you’re doing and what I’m doing too in a different way, and I feel like people not… And they’re like, of course, but when you look at the microcosms, the examples of what happens every day in our industry, there are very few advisors who are bringing this emotional job to bear.

Reese Harper:
I love that you highlighted that because it’s a very under-appreciated. People think of that’s a functional job, they’re like, I’m not gonna call Beverly, ’cause what is she gonna tell me about Tom or your parents… She didn’t have any of their financial data is like it wasn’t a functional thing. For the client, your parents, that would have been a huge emotional job that they could have… That advisor could have done and then it would have turned into a functional job for you potentially… Where you hire that person.

Beverly Flaxington:
I just think at the end of the day, it’s like the financial stuff, you can calculate it, you can figure it out, you can put options in front of people you should… You should understand which investments are right for them, and you know your client… I mean, all of that, I held licenses for a long time, I’ve been in compliance roles like I’m not diminishing all of it, but I think we miss the fact that back to my little stick figure in the center of all of this is this person who wants to be known, who has this life, who has these relationships, who has these fears, who has these hopes, and we’re not allowing them to share it in a comfortable enough way because we’re just in some cases, simply not asking the questions.

Reese Harper:
I feel like you highlighted another thing right there, just in your intuition that I’ve started to explore, which is, sometimes you don’t actually have to complete the full job map to… In a job description, there would be… There’s a job description, but then there’s a map of all the little things that would have to get done to get that thing done fully well, as you know, and if someone were just to talk to you about your child in an inquisitive curious way, in my software brain that would be hacking at what we call the organizer analyze part of the job. It might not be that you go execute on the job or go get it done, or I might not actually call your son, but starting with you to sort of just realize the awareness that that is a job, an emotional job to do for you, and possibly a functional job that I might do for a future client, but just doing a step even of just being curious about that job, an awareness of the job, going after it, and being able to say, “This is an emotional job, I’m sure that this client has.”

Reese Harper:
‘Cause I’ve seen it appear in dozens of my clients, so I’m gonna ask the first step question to kind of organize and analyze that, and I’m gonna document the response. Beverly, tell me a little bit about, how do you feel about your kids in their overall financial wellness, how are they doing? Just talk to me about your son. Like How’s college going and you bought a house yet? And I’m just starting to edge down that path, document the answers, and just know that’s where I’m at in that job… I’ve hit that job maybe once a year, I’m gonna recycle it once a year, I’ll keep going at it. Man, it can be a fun left brain activity too, if you just realize, I’m gonna repeat this emotional job, this frequency, this time at.

Beverly Flaxington:
Imagine if you’ve been asking along the way. It’s almost like you have a little bit of insight at that point into my son, and it’s like, “Hey, maybe next time we have this Zoom, you wanna bring them on, I’m happy to share some ideas,” because in my case, my son actually has walked into a very good job, he’s getting paid very well, he’s probably gonna make some good money, he’s an unbelievable saver, and you might wanna know that, so that is exactly it Reese. It’s like in that moment, when you first start asking me, maybe you’re not like, Well, he doesn’t have any money and he still a college student, what have you cared enough before he even goes to college, and then you’re continuing… Maybe the prompts and the software are reminding me as the advisor, “Hey, ask Bev because he’s coming up on graduation,” I mean… How cool would that be? Because now you actually can also relate to someone that you haven’t even met, but you have a picture of them through the relationship with me.

Reese Harper:
Learning how to prioritize all of the work that we could do for a client and ranking it and saying, Should I do this one or that one, or? Because the client has a limited amount of bandwidth for you, a limited amount of bandwidth for you, you can’t just be like, Well, there’s 72 jobs and we gotta get all done, so I’m gonna contact you once every other day. You’re gonna be annoying. And so these emotional ones, they are the ones that get engagement, they get client engagement, and if you want… If you have a limited set of opportunities to engage, to deepen those relationships, and you’re always doing it with functional stuff, I just think you’re headed for a less fulfilling, less profitable, less referral relationship. Anyway.

Beverly Flaxington:
But I’d put a plug in for what you’re doing because in all of the work that we do, the most challenging thing for advisors is it’s like, Whoa, I have to remember to ask about this or what questions or stay open-ended. Make sure, and they do struggle in fairness because it also is a functional job and you better keep up on the laws they’re changing, and you better know what’s happening in Washington, and you better know how the portfolio allocations are doing, and when the client asks you why the return was, you better have an answer, so all of that is also on the plate, so I think having some sort of software to guide me a little bit around, have you asked about this recently or make sure maybe in that annual meeting, pick one of these five things even just to ask about, I do think that they really could use some guidance on that piece, because in fairness, I’ll just tell them, I’ll say, “Pick one thing that we’ve talked about,” because it could feel completely overwhelming, so think every time I interact, I have to remember this laundry list of 50 things I’m supposed to do.

Reese Harper:
I’m excited to keep exploring this with you ’cause you’ve got a real passion for it, and maybe there’s an opportunity for us to keep exploring this together, it’s a very… Just a very meaningful work that you’re engaged in, helping advisors connect with people in a real way, so I’ll let you share your last thoughts with everybody Beverly as we wrap up, we gotta cover a lot of fun ground, but there’s a lot more to cover in another episode, but I’ll let you wrap up with kinda your parting thoughts.

Beverly Flaxington:
And I think, honestly, Reese would underscore what you just said to me is I’ve been in this industry a long time, I’ve held loads of functional jobs, I care about this business a lot, I think it is quite frankly an honor and a joy to work in this industry, and I do think many advisors are doing amazing things for people. I think though, that it is a big miss, if you do not carve out time to figure out how this becomes part of who you are, and I realize some people may not feel like I’m wired that way. I’m a techy, I’m a finance person, but if you have a heart and you have a soul and you have a mind, you are capable at incorporating some of what we’re talking about, but it does take focus and work.

Reese Harper:
Beautiful Work, Beverly. Thank you so much for all your service in the industry for all these years, you’ve got some amazing articles out there, I was a particularly a big fan of when I read on Barons and the advisor article section. To me, it was… You can look under the Practice Management area, it was a podcast, a transcription I just thought was really valuable between Beverly and an interviewer, Greg that had put that on, so we’ll let people go find you through probably your website, how about you introduce people to that real quickly, make sure they know how to get in touch with you.

Beverly Flaxington:
It’s just the-collaborative.com.

Reese Harper:
Is there any particular email or anything you’d like people reach out to with inquiries or anything?

Reese Harper:
Which is just Beverly, B-E-V-E-R-L-Y at the-collaborative.com. It’s our goal to make it as easy as possible.

Reese Harper:
0:43:56.5 RH: Awesome, okay, Beverly, thank you so much for everything you’re doing and look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Beverly Flaxington:
My pleasure, Reese. Thank you for having me here.

Abby Morton:
Next time on Elementality…

Reese Harper:
The point here is, we have a job map that is easier to build in a concrete job, it’s easier to build if you know who you’re building it for, and too many niches aren’t actually getting down to that homogenous clientele. They’re just marketing. That’s it. And the niche is not, you don’t do a niche just to market, it’s actually less about marketing and more about really delivering a service that’s of value.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Planning System at getelements.com/meet, and schedule a time to speak with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Matt Glazer. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haynes. Have a good one.

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