Like many people, I’ve become addicted to running since the pandemic and recently took part in an ultra marathon in the run up the London marathon in October.
I went well, despite the fact that I was suffering a slight back injury at the time - an injury that needn’t have been an issue.
I’d put off seeing anyone about it thinking it wasn’t important enough to consult anyone. Until of course, it got to the stage when it was too late, and the physio berated me for not seeing him two months earlier.
What a plonker.
But there’s an important lesson in there and I used the experience in order to tell my clients: don’t struggle on alone, don’t be afraid of asking for help, always seek professional advice.
Most of my clients are au fait with this mantra – they know they can contact me outwith their reviews and ask anything they like. That’s what I’m here for. No question is a silly one. Better to ask something than none at all, and so on.
But what about prospects?
I was reminded of a couple I spoke to once in their 40s who came to see me and said that what I’d told them had been such a relief. They’d always had in the back of their minds the thought that they should be doing something about their finances – they’d been told in their twenties about compound interest and about how putting away even a pound then would be worth it in the future.
They’d ignored it, but it had been mildly nagging at them ever since. What might that pound have been worth now? What could they have missed out on? What else should they have been doing?
They therefore assumed that by the time they did ask someone about these things - some twenty years later - they’d be told that yes, they should have done something much earlier and that solving the problem now would be harder.
Little did they realise that seeking advice in your 40s is relatively early. Or that they were in a surprisingly good position.
Barriers to advice
We can sometimes forget what it’s like to contemplate seeking advice for the first time. That it can be fraught with concerns about being told bad news.
This is in addition to the other concerns that we’re familiar with: that people will feel embarrassed about their lack of knowledge, that the jargon will make them feel silly, that they won’t understand what they’re being told.
And the stakes are high – make a wrong decision and you could be left with more than a sore back, so probably better to do nothing at all, right?
Wrong of course, but how do we persuade people that we won’t make them feel all the above? Because it’s down to us.
I think it helps to be as transparent as possible about who we are. I know that being open and honest about my own life helps clients see me as ‘human’, ‘non-stuffy’ and approachable.
Whether it’s commenting on my marathon training (including back injury!) or the development of my business, clients understand that even though they’re seeking professional advice, they’re also talking to a normal person who, when not in front of them, is going about life like anyone else.
Not someone who’d never try to blind them with science, bamboozle them with jargon or ever make them feel bad for sticking their head in the sand – because, clearly, I do that too!
It sounds simple, but it’s something we sometimes forget to do, or don’t have time to think about. But there are opportunities everywhere if you look, just look at your communications for a start – your website’s ‘about’ page, its blog, or your regular email newsletter.
Perhaps we worry that this level of ‘revelation’ will seem unprofessional?
It’s certainly a line worth treading carefully, and it’s true that clients want to see leadership from us, an impartial sounding board as well as professional advice.
But by combining that with a little of ourselves, a little vulnerability, as little of ‘I do that too’ I believe we can help people to ‘fear’ us – and what we might tell them about their money – much less.