Today’s piece is all about the importance of values and having shared values with the people that matter in your life. Alan tells me it’s an important topic and values affect all partnerships and relationships; friendships, marriages, family relationships and professional relationships too. Having similar values generally means that you get on rather well, whereas if you hold different values, the chances are you don’t really get on and if you do, it’s likely to be on a superficial level. Of course, you don’t have to have exactly the same set of values but your values need to be compatible. Here’s a good example that Alan gave me:
Honesty is an important value, as is integrity. You might not place both of these in your top five or top ten values but they’re compatible, so if your partner lists honesty as a top value and you list integrity, they both work in synergy and they are similar.
Here’s an example of when values are incompatible. Let’s say your values are about having power or making a huge amount of money, perhaps you want to have a lot of influence? You might meet someone who has values including compassion and wanting to contribute to society, with no desire to be powerful or ridiculously rich. The chances are you won’t get on (on a deep level). Of course, you might want to make a lot of money and give some of that money to charity, in which case money and contributing to society might be two of your values. Don’t get me wrong, people who crave power and influence aren’t uncompassionate and I’m sure many of them like to make charitable contributions and help whenever they can! It’s just an example (before you start knocking on my door!).
Do You Have the Same Values as Your Financial Planner?
In Alan’s view, values are just as important to take into consideration when you choose a Financial Advisor or Financial Planner so you choose someone like-minded. So while you probably won’t have exactly the same set of values, your values should at least be compatible. The truth is, there are plenty of Financial Advisors out there who don’t give two hoots what your values are, or whether they’re compatible or not with theirs. They’re in it for the money and that’s it. Alan isn’t.
Alan’s values are integrity, respect, compassion, honesty, trust and contribution. Alan believes shared or similar values make for a fruitful professional relationship but it works both ways and it is why he carefully selects his clients too. He has even turned clients away because he didn’t feel they shared the same values.
Alan told me about a gentleman who once came to his office for a meeting. He’d sold his successful business and had £1 million to invest. Alan sat talking to him for 45 minutes and during that time, Alan noted this man’s values, which were power, influence, control, making inordinate sums of money and it didn’t sit well with Alan. There was nothing about other people, about happiness, enjoying life and giving back. So Alan terminated the meeting and told this man that they weren’t a good fit. When Alan relayed this story to another Financial Advisor, the other advisor was shocked! Why would Alan turn down the opportunity of making quite a bit of money? The answer to that was that yes, he might have made money out of this man’s investments, but life is more than money. Alan believes that it’s about looking forward to the future, making a difference to others’ lives while still being able to enjoy what you want out of life (with enough money to do so).
What are Your Values?
I bet I’ve piqued your interest. Do you know what your values are? Yes, you’ve got a good idea but actually, there’s a brilliant exercise on Alan’s website. It’s part of a bigger exercise surrounding life goals but it’s worth doing. It’s not something that takes five minutes, it takes time to dig deep and really concentrate because there are loads of different values listed and you need to really focus on selecting just ten from that list. Next you need to put them in order of importance. Alan asks all of his new clients to do this exercise so he can get to know what they’re about and what they want out of life (which is why he’s a Life Planner – more than just finance, see my other blog here). Funnily enough, he has several clients that perfectly match his own set of values!
From a business perspective, Alan chooses to work with clients who have similar values (they don’t have to be exactly the same), that way working together they’re always aligned. He treats all his clients fairly, his aim is to make their lives better, not rip them off or make money out of them. He would never do anything to put a client at a disadvantage; it simply isn’t in his way of thinking. He also believes that life’s too short to work with people who don’t share values – it leads to conflict and stress! Plus, working with a Financial Planner is about a long-term relationship so you need to have shared values for it to work really well.
If you are looking for a Financial Advisor or Financial Planner, do take into account your values and theirs too, many Financial Advisors/Planners aren’t looking at your values, they’re looking at their own (without a thought paid to yours).
It’s good to hear that Alan strives to always do the best he can (and his whole team does), he wants to enjoy his client relationships, make a difference to their lives (while they enjoy making a difference to other people’s lives too). Many of his clients become Alan’s friends. So, he likes to check-in and make sure that his business is always doing enough for them. Recently, he asked for client feedback and he had a load of contributions back. Here are a few of the things that were said:
- “Alan, I can truly say I’m very happy to be your client, and wholly satisfied with all that you’ve done, and continue to do for me. Many thanks”
- “Your friendly advice and taking care of financial matters has given me an easy, trouble-free retirement”
- “Alan is a sensitive and caring Financial Advisor who was genuinely concerned that I received the best advice for my particular circumstances and not about making money from the advice given. I do not believe that Alan could have done anything better”
That’s not to say he didn’t have some comments where the business could improve – and he welcomed all comments. Where the business needs to do things better, Alan and his team will go the extra mile to make sure it happens. It’s a two-way street after all and Alan is committed to providing the best possible service.
On a final note, as I mentioned earlier, have you thought about your values lately? Why not try the exercise – get your partner to try it too and read each other’s. Revisit them in a few months to see if they’ve changed (it’s unlikely). Most of all, if you are looking for financial advice, make sure your advisor or planner shares the same values as you.