How Well Do Advisors Get You?

At some point in my 30s, I went shopping for an interior designer. I narrowed a list of referrals down to three I wanted to interview. The first one invited me to her office and showed me a photo album of her projects. They were very tastefully done….just not my taste. The houses were beautiful….but twice as big as mine.

The second one also met me at her office. She had worked with my friend on her gorgeous home, but my friend had no budget limits. Whatever my friend liked, she got. This made the designer’s job much easier, of course, and by the way she talked to me, she seemed to assume I was in the same position.

The third designer was different. He didn’t understand why we wouldn’t meet anywhere except my home (which seemed obvious to me, but since the previous two had not insisted, I assumed I must not know how the business worked). He showed up and asked questions. Question after question, wanting to know who I was, how did I live in my house, what my budget was, but also what my hopes and dreams were for what it would be like.

While I was talking, he was drawing. Listening, and drawing. After quite a bit of talking (mostly me talking, him listening and drawing), he showed me his drawing pad and asked, “What do you think of this?” On it, he had drawn a single piece of furniture – like a dresser of sorts. But the style of it captured….me. He got me. I felt completely understood.

Is it too much to expect professionals in your life to “get” you? I don’t think so. Yet there are those holding themselves out as professionals – financial, legal, medical, real estate, design, engineering, coaching, accounting, architecture – who provide the same “advice” to client after client without tailoring that advice to who the client is. The next time you are with a professional of any stripe who doesn’t make you feel understood and heard, stop and ask yourself, “If they don’t understand who I am, how likely is it I am getting the best advice?”

Keep interviewing until you find the one who gets you.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Elizzabeth Davila

    Thank you for sharing and I agree completely with your point of view. I look forward to keeping this in the forefront of my thoughts the next time I’m needing someone to understand what my needs are.

    1. Holly

      Thanks for your comment Elizzabeth! Glad you found it to be helpful.

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