By Michael Seitchik, Bates Associate
Believe it or not, it took me until I hit my sixties to pick a financial advisor. Friends kept on recommending their advisors, but whenever I met with them they seemed to be pushing whatever product gave them the biggest bonus or commission, not what was best for me. I felt their statements about “putting the customer first” were fake. My sense was they thought they could pull a fast one on me.
Well, I finally met someone whom I could trust to take the lead on my investments.
One of the major reasons I trust him is that on a regular basis he sends me an email that describe all of his assumptions and thoughts about the economy and what he thinks this means for my investments. That is, he is transparent about why he is recommending keeping my investments as they are or changing them. I know his thoughts and feelings behind his recommendations, not just “the bottom line”. Because I know his real thoughts, I experience him as authentic and not as someone trying to hide the truth about his intentions.
I can either agree with his assumptions, or I can challenge his assumptions and give counterproposals. He takes the lead by leveraging his expertise and experience. He makes it an engaging discussion; he makes it a learning experience. He gets me to buy into the final decision.
As an Associate at Bates, I coach many people on the Bates Executive Presence Index, or ExPI. On this assessment, it is quite common for highly successful executives to score relatively low on the Authenticity facet because they are not transparent about the thinking behind their recommendations. It isn’t that people necessarily disagree with the executive’s decisions. It is usually quite the contrary. However, people want to know the basis for the decision. With so many tradeoffs involved in decisions at the top of organizations, people want to know, “How did you get there?”
By sharing your journey, not only should others feel reassured, they have now learned from your experience and can hopefully make better decisions themselves.
I am more likely rather than less likely to follow my financial advisor’s recommendations because he shares his thinking and feelings. It makes him more vulnerable... but it also makes him more authentic.