Helping Clients Plan For, and Then Protect, Their Financial Future.
Financial Freedom is a term generally used to describe the state of having sufficient personal wealth to live without having to work actively for basic necessities. In the case of many individuals whose financial circumstances fit this description, their investment strategies generate income necessary for their expenses.
It does not matter how old or young someone is or how much money they have or make. If they can generate enough money to meet their needs from sources other than their primary occupation, and if they have properly planned for their financial future. I believe that having the ability to do the things that one enjoys while minimizing the stress about money is the essence of having an investment plan.
There are just a few fundamental steps that I believe are crucial to building and preserving wealth and pursuing financial goals:
- Spend less than you earn, both while working and also once retired.
- Commit to and follow a long-term retirement and investment strategy.
- Maintain discipline, objectivity, and patience in executing on one's plan and strategy.
- Embracing, measuring and managing financial risk.
How would your days and nights be better if you felt working was optional, and you had the resources for your financial obligations?
Providing Sound, Thoughtful, Appropriate, and Objective Counsel by Thoroughly Understanding and Addressing Client Needs.
I usually have the same objective for the clients I work with – get to the root causes that drive their desire for financial independence. If we can get to a point where both sides agree on the situation and what areas of weakness need to be improved, it is far easier to evaluate and agree on the next steps. The end result of this first phase drives the direction of the second phase, where a customized financial, investment, and retirement plan and strategy is developed.
In order to create and deliver a truly great plan and strategy for a client, it is fundamental to know who I am working with and what their needs are so that I can use this information to compile a preliminary list of items for attention and areas of improvement. Constant and continued discovery and communication with a client about their evolving personal and financial situation is central to my understanding of a client's needs.
If I am concerned that I may not be able to deliver what a client has asked for, then it might be worth spending a bit more time interacting with my client. What a client expects at the beginning of a lifetime relationship will almost assuredly be different than five years into our partnership; therefore, having regular and consistent conversations with each of my clients is paramount. In addition to semi-annual face-to-face comprehensive financial review meetings, regular telephone conversations, email interactions, and educational events are the norm. I am a voracious note taker, both during face-to-face meetings and during telephone interactions, allowing my clients the opportunity to confirm my understanding and ensure that we are on the right track.
Delivering Exceptional Client Service
The core philosophy my team and I have regarding client service is not about delivering what clients expect, it is about delivering what they do not expect. In doing so, we hope to create "raving fans." I believe exceptional customer service is rare because society, in our commercialized world, has become somewhat immune to what could be described as borderline abusive treatment. In order to envision exceptional customer service one must first consider the operative word, service. In this context, service means work or the performance of duties for others, sounds very average and ordinary. However, when the word exceptional is added, we break the mold of ordinary and provide the client a WOW experience. While above average may be better than the competition, I surely do not want my clients to define their experience in working with me as merely "above average."
Defining exceptional customer service and behaving in exceptional ways while serving customers are very different things. Note the word behavior, because that is the essence of bringing exceptional customer service to life. Doing whatever it takes to meet or exceed the needs of the customer. That is what my team and I strive for on a daily basis. Specifically:
- I have developed and continue to refine processes in my practice to ensure exceptional client service.
- When I make a mistake with a client, I strive to overcompensate.
- I have learned to ask and not assume, and I always try to get my client involved in solutions; e.g. if we could resolve this issue to your satisfaction what would it look like, what's seems fair to you?
- WOWing clients on a regular basis with unexpected gestures of thoughtfulness.
We fully recognize that people tell, on average, three people about exceptional customer service experiences and eleven about their unsatisfactory experiences - the numbers speak for themselves. Everything else being equal, exceptional customer service creates the unique competitive advantage we strive to maintain.
Joseph F. Eschleman, CIMA®
Managing Director - Investment Officer