Phone a Friend

Do you remember the prime-time hit game show hosted by Regis Philbin called Who Wants to be a Millionaire? If game contestants got in trouble answering a question, they had several lifelines to use. One lifeline was to “phone a friend” for the answer.

Every so often, I learn that a client has deviated in a significant way from the game plan that we had formulated together. They forgot their “phone a friend” option. For example, a client might hire a high-priced investment management service, even though there are much better options available. Since I have an open line policy that encourages clients to call before making any major financial decision, I do not fully understand a client’s reasoning for under-utilizing one of their financial information lifelines.

This is very troubling, because I hate to see my clients make costly mistakes, especially when they can be avoided so easily. My business is designed to help you make wise choices with your money. Therefore, I always seem to take these mistakes personally and feel like I let you down somehow. Did I not fully explain your alternatives? Should I offer a separate retainer arrangement or some other type of service to ensure that your game plan stays on track?

I realize that lessons learned will soon fade with the passage of time. Topics that seemed clear during our last conversation might become a little foggy within a year or two later. The misinformation frequently propagated on TV, radio, magazines, and the internet can often lead many of us astray. New and creative pitches from savvy marketers can be difficult to resist. Even so, I can’t help but think that I could have somehow done a better job.

I’ve tried to remedy this situation with my open line policy, which invites all clients to call me anytime they have a question or concern. The main purpose of this policy is so you don’t fret over minor issues that could easily be resolved with just a few minutes on the telephone. In addition, it’s even more important for you to call me before making a major financial decision, such as buying an annuity or hiring a money manager. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have a detached observer provide a common sense check on an important decision.

Just like the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, you can think of me as your “phone a friend” lifeline. If you get stuck on something, please give me a call. I might not be able to answer your question or fully address your concern, but I’m always willing to try or send you to a resource for help. At the very least, you won’t have to make a major financial decision by yourself. Who knows - maybe that “phone a friend” call can take you one step closer to becoming a millionaire too!