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Bring Your Questions!

If the 80/20 rule applies to everything in life, then I’ve got to assume that the 20 percent of you who ask a lot of questions in your planning meetings have a pretty good understanding of our financial planning discussions. For that 20 percent, you’re good to go, and I love the questions you ask – it helps me understand what’s going on in your head, and to gauge your understanding of these not-so-everyday kitchen conversation topics. 

But for the other 80 percent of you who are less likely to speak up, I’d like to challenge you to be more active in your next update meeting. Let me know where I completely lost you in the conversation – I do this stuff every day, but I know it’s not every day to you. Give me a chance to help educate you, as I know from experience that educated clients are much more engaged and easy to work with over the long term. No question is too small. 

Let me share a story. The other day, I was preparing to meet with a client couple, and when I walked into the conference room, only one spouse was there. She informed me that her husband had had something come up at work, but she’d decided to keep the appointment so she could review the family finances and ask some questions she normally wouldn’t feel comfortable asking. 

As I reviewed the family portfolio with her, I was thrilled that she hadn’t cancelled the meeting, as she was asking great questions. I was learning more about her and where she was coming from with the family finances, and she gained more confidence in the financial plan we’ve developed for her family. Moving forward, I know where I should spend more time following up with her, and the next time she and her husband come in together, and she’ll be a more engaged client.

When it’s all said and done, not only will our planning relationship be better with them as a client couple, it will also be simpler. Sometimes her husband comes in when she’s traveling on business, and I send him home with a few things to go over with her. Now that she has a fuller understanding of what we’re trying to do, she’ll be more willing to sit down and look things over and accept our recommendations – or to pick up the phone and call us when she has additional questions or needs clarification on certain topics. 

So whether you’re the wildly successful (at your job!) clueless guy or the clueless gal – we all have a role to play in our family finances – I would encourage you not to avoid asking those fundamental questions. Go ahead, let us know how we can help you. And if you’d like to come in for a solo meeting, we’d love that – you don’t have to wait until your spouse has a work conflict. 

Article by David Smyth, Senior Partner at Family Financial Partners — a financial services firm in Lexington, Kentucky.

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