3 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

By: Larry Miles

Be Precise. It's so important to us, it's written on our wall. We handle many of the most important and sensitive matters in our clients' lives. That is a tremendous responsibility. Accuracy, timeliness, and precision are of paramount importance. Our best teammates are instilled with a fierce client service mentality.  

And yet, that exact same mentality can cause our biggest problems, if we are not careful. I'd like to share a couple of examples of lessons I've learned (the hard way) in the hope that someone might benefit or perhaps it will start a helpful conversation.

* Turnaround time. When a client, or teammate, asks me for help, my first reaction is, "I'll get right on that!" Whoever I'm talking to is important to me. I want to make them happy. And I want to be a good teammate. I'd like to think those are good motivations. Unfortunately, they can get me in trouble. Sometimes, in my haste to help, I don't pause long enough to ask questions about the real issue that would allow me to be truly helpful.

Other times, in my rush to marshal resources to help a teammate, I may disturb the workflow of other teammates. As a result, I've helped one teammate - the person who asked for my assistance but have hurt others. That's not a good outcome. When I'm at my worst, I'll ask teammates to "rush" something and get it done in a shorter turn around time than they normally do. That's not setting them up for success and it's certainly not a clean agreement. Standard turnaround times are meant to help all of us, including our clients.

* Just say no. Another way I get myself (and sometimes others) in trouble, is by saying "yes" to a client or partner request. Again, I think my motivations are pure. I want the client or partner to think well of me and the company (but mostly me). As a result, I say, "sure, we can do that." When in fact, whatever I've just promised may not be necessary, or even possible. It took me a while, but I finally learned that saying no is a very powerful tool, that is all too infrequently used. Don't be "yes men" and "yes women." Ask questions to better understand what is really needed. Tell folks no and they'll respect you and your opinion more. And do it live - with a smile - never over email.

* Limitations of technology. In our experience, reinventing wealth management is messy. Trying multiple new types of technology every year will cause problems. That seems to be the reality for being at the tip of the wealth tech spear. as a company, we believe our clients are best served when we push the envelope of what technology can handle. And we've agreed to accept the headaches that come along with it. We're not shrugging our shoulders and saying, "whelp, that stinks the numbers are wrong. Must be technology. Brian!" No, we strive for precision. And, we need to be understanding when our new tech does not live up to the expectations we have for it.