We distributed our annual shareholder letter to clients this week. It’s something we do each January to reaffirm our guiding principles, provide reflections on the past year, and share updates on our practice. We feel good about our work and the impact it’s having with those we partner with. As our adventure continues into a new year, I’m thinking about how we may do it better?
As a firm we’ve embraced ongoing learning and discovery that extends well beyond traditional financial themes. We are not content to sit back and mail it in going through the motions of gathering countless customers. We recommend that our clients act with thoughtful intentions and avoid reacting whenever possible. This is how we define planning and strategy and it’s the same approach we take when creating new relationships.
Simply doing things the way they have always been done before does not sit well with us. We set time aside to think strategically on all aspects of the planning experience. It’s a dynamic field, understanding all the moving parts, people, and consistent change requires a repeatable process. This process is high touch and often refined as we go. Our goal is to make it easier to share knowledge so clients may make better decisions now.
My curiosity runs deep. Questions help me understand others and see different perspectives beyond my own. What makes others tick and drives their choices? What may we offer others that may help them achieve what they want? After they get what they want, have they quantified enough, or do they feel the necessity to chase more? More is rarely the answer yet a reoccurring theme when discussing one’s financials. I think about what our firm may do to change this narrative.
We choose organic growth as our path to serving others. Often starting a conversation with those who reach out to us on the suggestion of someone we know, like, and trust. The financial industry continues to send a different message insisting company acquisitions are the fastest path to growth. What might be possible if a firm, our firm, was created to follow a narrower path? Constructed with purpose in serving a limited number of families and professionals? What sort of experience may this feel like for our clients and what might they accomplish?
The key to successful planning begins with message clarity and includes ongoing dialogue. How may we increase our communication effectiveness? I believe that’s done by spending time with those who welcome advice and strategy. Reducing noise and jargoon and keeping a simple message that focuses on inputs, not outcomes. Supplying those with the necessary nudge and encouragement to achieve what’s desired. Helping others set achievable goals, small at first, often leading to bigger steps tomorrow. As I see it, the messenger; what we do, say, and write as a firm is ultimately the message to all who may watch, listen, and read what we share.
This choose your own adventure approach works well in running a practice and also in making daily decisions in life. Now’s a great time to reflect on your own adventure and consider your happiness with the current path you follow.