Trust. It lies at the heart of what we do as financial planners. Without a trusting relationship with clients, we cannot work constructively to advise them and help them to achieve their goals. At a broader level, if the public does not trust financial planners, they will be unwilling to work with us in the first place. Yet at the same time, there is not necessarily a clear agreement amongst financial planners about what exactly it is that best inculcates that trust relationship. It is about establishing the credibility as an expert to become a trusted advisor for the client? Or the intimacy and authenticity necessary to ensure that the client feels safe and comfortable to share with you in the first place, and be willing to act on your recommendations? If you had to pick one factor as the primary one leading to trustworthiness, which is more important to you: credibility, or authenticity?
The inspiration for today's blog post is an article featured in this past Friday's "Weekend Reading" column, published by financial planner Carl Richards (also known for his BehaviorGap work) in the November 8th issue of the New York Times. In the article, "How a Financial Pro Lost His House", Carl shared his own intimate story of how he got caught up in the real estate boom in Las Vegas, bought "too much house" and eventually had to give it up in a short sale. The article seems to have stirred a bit of controversy, in part simply because of the moral controversy surroudning short sales, but also in regards to how Carl's story as a financial planner who made financial mistakes of his own reflects on financial planners at large.