You (Yes, You) Are More Important Than You Know

© Can Stock Photo / smarnad

True story from a friend who has a daughter and son, ages about 4 and 7. This December, they each wrote a letter to Santa Claus. I don’t know what they said, but my friend liked them so much she wanted to keep them. Hoping the letters would find their way back home, she sneakily left off the postage, provided a vague mailing address, and made sure the return address was crystal clear.

Her daughter had other plans. “But, Mommy,” she observed. “It doesn’t say ‘Santa’ on it.”

Busted. My friend still managed to omit the postage, but she had to add an address – “To Santa” – and off they went.

As hoped for, the postal service did return the letters … although not in the “Return to Sender” format you’d expect. Instead, both letters had been removed from their original envelopes and inserted into a single new envelope addressed to the household. Along with the letters was a new one – from Santa!

Santa encouraged my friend’s daughter to be kind, and offered up some advice for her son as well, who cautiously observed, “Well, I didn’t used to believe, but I might have to now.” As you can imagine, the four-year-old was blown away by the personal reply; she will no doubt think twice the next time she’s choosing between naughty or nice.

What has this got to do with your role as an investment advisor? Call me Scrooge, but I still don’t believe in Santa Claus. I’m more inclined to believe there’s one or more wonderful postal workers – or maybe community volunteers – who take the time to respond to this sort of correspondence. To me, that’s even more miraculous. These anonymous, but very real individuals are surely touching lives in so many positive ways they will never know about. They must act on faith that what they’re doing matters.

There’s the connection for you. As we press on the accelerator to another busy year filled with market swings, global turmoil, and personal challenges alike, take a refreshing moment to realize this:

Every act of kindness you extend is important to someone.

Each piece of solid advice you offer contributes to everyone’s well-being.

Each time you need to be brave, and make the right choice instead of the easy one in your personal and professional life, your decision counts.

So, as “Santa” said, let’s be kind instead of careless. Let’s be honest, even when others seem to get ahead with a lie. Let’s be fiduciary, not because it’s the law, but because it matters. More than you are ever likely to know.

Happy New Year to you all!

Grease Isn’t the Word After All

© Can Stock Photo / Leaf

On the threshold of Thanksgiving (here in the U.S. anyway), I pause from my regularly scheduled project list to post some ponderings on the power of a single word.

What’s the Word?

Recently, I was privileged to attend the BAM ALLIANCE 2017 National Conference. Returning to my roots is always part educational, part sentimental, and entirely inspirational; this year was no exception.

I could blather on for pages about some of the insights gained by networking with my peeps. Maybe I will in a future post. But if I were tasked with condensing the entire event into one word, it would be this:

It’s Empathy.

Events ranged from deep dives into academic financial theory, to business development workshops, to helping the local food bank with an outreach program, to pondering the true meaning of happiness. Throughout, I couldn’t help but notice a silver thread of empathy connecting all of us attendees, fund managers, financial service providers and keynote speakers alike.

Continue reading “Grease Isn’t the Word After All”

Are Your Clients Happy? Time Will Tell

© Can Stock Photo / photocreo

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Hey, did you catch the recent study that’s been making its way around the popular press: “Buying time promotes happiness”? As perennially popular as happiness tends to be, the media jumped right on this one.

Of course one study – even an academic one – isn’t “proof” according to evidence-based rigor. But this particular one seems about as far-reaching as a stand-alone inquiry can get. It’s co-authored by five academic heavyweights from four universities. Plus it represents four academic disciplines across three countries – the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands. Contributors came from Harvard University’s Business School, the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology, Maastricht University’s Department of Finance, and Vrije Universiteit’s Center for Philanthropic Studies.

Go ahead and read the study yourself, but one of its compelling conclusions is as follows:

“[W]orking adults report greater happiness after spending money on a time-saving purchase than on a material purchase.”

I’ve seen a number of posts lately about the value of spending money on spending time … i.e., on having experiences instead of possessions. Tim Maurer recently covered this subject nicely, for example. The study I’m referencing suggests people also derive a lot of pleasure from spending money on saving time or, put another way, on avoiding experiences they’d rather not have, like housekeeping or yard work.

Or how about wealth management? While financial services didn’t seem to come up as a happiness-generating time-saver in this particular study, I’d be willing to bet there are plenty of people who would rather be mowing the lawn than figuring out how to finagle their finances.

So here’s an interesting idea for your marketing & communications: What if you presented the value you bring to your clients in increments of time instead of just the money? Here are some ideas to get you going.

Portfolio management services saves some time. After initial set-up, maybe you’re saving a family a couple of hours every month by managing their portfolio for them. That’s nice, but a decent roboadvisor can take care of that too, so this is just the beginning. Continue reading “Are Your Clients Happy? Time Will Tell”

IT’S ALIVE! (The Most Awesome Evidence-Based Infographic Ever)

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Hey, remember about a month ago, when I teased you with a nearly ready – and free – Evidence-Based Investment infographic/poster Mineral and I were putting together for you? Today, we are delighted to announce actual availability.

Order It!

There’s additional information to be had by clicking on “Order It!” But to summarize a few key points:

  • You can order a high-resolution, print-ready version of the infographic/poster for free.
  • Mineral will even add your logo and disclaimers before sending it your way (allow a week or so for delivery).
  • The default primary color is blue, or you can request a different primary color to complement your branding.
  • If you’d like a printed version of the same, you can order that too. $30 USD to cover costs will score you a big, beautiful 24″x 36″ poster size to display proudly on your office wall ($10 USD more if shipping internationally).

Suggested Use

You know evidence-based investing can dramatically improve investors’ expected outcomes. But it can be hard to convince your clients and prospects of that, especially when the markets are acting up. Our clear infographic (with your branding added) will help you explain why you do, what you do, with a simple comparison between evidence-based and traditional active investing.

What’s the Catch?

Seriously, there is none. I’m as passionate about the benefits of evidence-based investing as you are, and I wanted to do my bit to help. If you’d like to stay in touch with me or Mineral, there will be check-boxes you can click to start (or keep) receiving ongoing news from us. But that’s entirely optional. (You can also sign up for my Content-Sharing Library to keep receiving more goodies at reasonable rates.)

Don’t Be Me (Go To the June EBI Conference)

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

True story. When I was in my teens, my mother, brother and I went to see the Indy 500 world-class motorsports race. Through a family connection, we had darn good seats. But in case I got bored, I brought along a book to read. It was hard to ignore all the commotion, but I managed. Let’s just say I was not this kid.



In stark contrast to this delightful child (with the best laugh ever), here I am at 10 years old, impatiently waiting for my dad to finish his photography, so I can get back to it.



Then and now, if I’m not reading, I’m mostly writing. That might explain why, other than even thicker glasses, not much has changed. (I do wish I still had those awesome bell-bottoms!)

It’s also why I don’t get out much, especially to conferences where people gather and (gasp) speak to one another. Most of the time, I’d rather be writing, reading, or reading about writing.

Continue reading “Don’t Be Me (Go To the June EBI Conference)”

Breaking News: Your Blogging Life Just Got Easier

You know it’s good for you and your community: blogging. Especially if it’s good stuff, accessible and informative, without sucking away too much of your client-service face time.

What would you say to a new service to help you achieve just that? Consider it done!

It all started when husband/wife team Jud and Kim Mackrill of Mineral reached out to me recently with an intriguing idea. Here’s the overview: Continue reading “Breaking News: Your Blogging Life Just Got Easier”

In Memoriam to Phil, My Friend and Adviser

Today’s blog is not whimsical. Today, I received the news that, earlier this week, my financial adviser passed away suddenly while vacationing in Hawaii with his family. Phil – who I blogged about just last August – is gone.


I share this news with you, my adviser friends, for two reasons.

First, especially for those among you who knew Phil personally, nobody could more fully understand the feelings I’m experiencing today, as I think about how my good friend and adviser (decidedly in that order!) will now no longer be there.

He’ll no longer be there to celebrate – as only Phil could do – the good-news milestones in our lives. I won’t be able to remind him how grateful I am that he and his team have helped make those milestones possible, and to share in how happy that always made him, right to the bottom of his fiduciary soul.

He won’t be there to shake his head along with me whenever the market has lost its flipping mind. Even though I know better than to succumb to the insanity, it will no longer be us and Phil against a crazy world.

He won’t be there to gently disagree with me when I’m wrong. Not that he’d ever come right out and say so. There was that pause of his. His hands would fold together as if he were stitching together his thoughts on the matter. He’d give me that look, affectionate and amused. “That’s right,” he’d begin, “but …” Whatever misguided idea I may have had would be a goner by the time he was done.

But now, Phil is the one who is gone. And yet, not really. First of all, he’s still lodged firmly inside my head. I have an “inner Phil” who will remain my advisor for life.

Continue reading “In Memoriam to Phil, My Friend and Adviser”

Fiduciary, Fee-Only Friends Found All Around the World

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

As we reflect on the outcome of yesterday’s presidential elections, you may enjoy a reminder that, big picture, the world has a way of continuing to turn, come what may. My personal inspiration came last week when I took a little longer than usual to knock off for the day, scheduling a 6 pm Skype with a new friend I’d recently met: Phil Stockton of Private Capital Ltd.

BREAKING NEWS: As I was putting together this week’s whimsy, I was delighted to see that my British communications colleague and Evidence-Based Investor author Robin Powell published a podcast conversation between us. In “What’s With the Name?” we explore the origin and meaning of Evidence-Based Investing. I also happened to mention my conversation with Phil toward the end. I do hope you’ll give the show a listen. We’re all one, big happy global family!

Now, back to my own post: I was willing to delay happy hour last week, because my Wednesday evening was Phil’s Thursday morning, and another busy day for him as he and his partners Rick Adkinson and Mathew Bate are spreading the mostly unheard-of word on evidence-based investing to families sorely in need of hearing more about it – in Hong Kong.

Continue reading “Fiduciary, Fee-Only Friends Found All Around the World”

Fred Reish’s Well-Rounded Angles on the Fiduciary Rule

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Fred Reish Interesting Angles on Fiduciary RuleAre you subscribed to Fred Reish’s Insights? If not, you should be.

Normally, when I seek legal counsel for anything, and I compare the hourly rate to my own, my first thought is, I am so in the wrong profession. In my next life, I intend to be an intellectual property attorney. Seriously, that’s how far gone I am; I think that sounds fascinating.

But back to Fred and his extended series, “Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule.” These are excellent legal opinions on a matter that either already is or is going to be of critical importance to you and your firm … and it’s FREE.

Continue reading “Fred Reish’s Well-Rounded Angles on the Fiduciary Rule”

Motivating Marketing Ideas: If It’s Good Enough for Tara …

www-web_optimizedA few months ago, I was privileged to be introduced to Tara Hunt of Truly Social, while collaborating on a Canadian evidence-based advisor firm’s marketing and communications (or “marcomm,” as we in the biz call it, because it sounds so much snazzier).

While you may or may not be in the market for a full-on engagement with a marketer of Tara’s stature, she shares a ton of excellent stuff for free on her YouTube channel. I encourage you to visit her channel and click on the “subscribe” button toward the upper-right corner of her page. You’ll then be notified whenever she adds new material.

Her most recent video, “Marketing is NOT an afterthought” was as insightful as usual.

In particular, as someone who generally prefers books over video (Shhh, don’t tell Tara!), I perked up at her recommendation of the fast-reading “Talking to Humans” by Giff Constable.

How fast? I watched Tara’s video earlier this afternoon, downloaded the $0.99 Kindle copy of Constable’s book immediately thereafter (or there’s a free PDF version), and am writing this post about an hour later.

Don’t let the attractive price or brevity fool you. If “Talking to Humans” is good enough for Tara, that’s certainly good enough for me … and you.

From my perspective, the book isn’t really about marketing as much as it is about understanding who your existing and would-be clients are, what they really want out of life, and how you may be able to best help them with that.

Client discovery, in other words.

“Here’s what customer discovery is not,” writes Constable. “It is not asking people to design your product for you. It is not about abdicating your vision. It is also not about pitching. A natural tendency is to try to sell other people on your idea, but your job in customer discovery is to learn.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Constable’s book should provide you with some worthwhile new ideas to spice up your practice development. It’s divided into two parts: A fictional case study to introduce the essential ingredients to client discovery, and a second part that is packed with practical tips on how to proceed.

All that, and Tara’s video will also treat you to a classic video clip of The Odd Couple’s Felix Unger parsing the word “assume.” Do you remember that one? Don’t assume you’ve got nothing to learn from “Talking to Humans.” Give it a read today.