Something is missing.
At a certain threshold of wealth, just about everyone has a tax professional, estate attorney, insurance broker, and an investment manager. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find these same professionals collaborating with each other for the benefit of their common client.
In organizational language, this condition is called “being siloed”. It should also be called a blown opportunity.
It’s all in your perspective.
You may be familiar with the story of the 5 men that put blindfolds on and then encounter an elephant for the very first time. Each one touches a different part of the animal. One feels the trunk and announces, “this being is like a thick snake”. Another feels the elephant’s side and declares, “this being is like a wall”. Still another feels the elephant’s leg and says, “No, it is like a tree trunk”. Not being aware of the rest of the elephant, each one believes their own experience explains the entire elephant. In some versions of the story, each feels that the others are lying, and they end up fighting.
Why does it happen?
Why don’t financial professionals that share the same client talk to each other? With so many life-enhancing opportunities that would arise by doing so, why wouldn’t they?
It’s understandable. Financial professionals of various disciplines are inherently biased toward their own familiar part of the universe. The CPA tends to see a client’s issues through the lens of its tax implications. To the insurance agent, everything can be solved with insurance. To the investment advisor, well, you get the idea. As Mark Twain once said, “To a hammer everything looks like a nail.” Everyone else’s point of view is ignored or looked upon with suspicion.
Their bias may be based on pride. Or the need to play it safe. Maybe they’re just plain too busy to go outside of their domain. Whatever the case, the bias is evident in their single-minded focus on their own product or service as if it was the center of the universe. Maybe it is, for them. But what about their client?
In this condition, financial advisors do only what their clients expect of them, and no more. That’s not good enough. Critical solutions get overlooked, money gets left on the table, and their clients get under-served.
Let’s consider, for a moment, what could happen if your financial professionals communicated with each other around a common purpose, that is, helping you to succeed? When experts collaborate, something magical happens.
They perform at a higher level than they normally would, because they are answering to experts rather than non-professionals. Knowing that their recommendations are being evaluated at a more sophisticated level, they have a heightened standard with each other.
Their creativity is stimulated by the ideas of the other players. Think of happy hour, only with numbers. There is diversity of expertise, experience, and philosophy. They complement each other. Arguments with each other not only happen, they are encouraged, albeit in the spirit of getting it right for their client.
An expert may foresee downstream implications that the other disciplines might be unaware of. A tax pro could hear an investment advisor’s recommendation to sell a security and point out a capital gains trap that can be lessened or avoided. An estate attorney could examine a tax return of a charitably inclined client and point out the significant long-term tax-saving opportunities that are available through planned giving.
Here’s the rub - somebody has to start it.
Because of the principle of You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know, and advisors’ hesitancy to collaborate, clients are usually unaware that coordinating their advisors is possible. Their advisors won’t initiate it for the reasons discussed earlier. This is unfortunate because, if coordinating the group is ever going to happen, the responsibility ultimately falls on the client by default. Unfortunately, without the proper training in leading teams of this nature, what client would be willing to do this?
If the client’s end game is getting the best results, then he needs to be firm and assign the job to one of his experts - preferably, the one that knows the client deeply, and is in the best position to see the entire financial playing field. If there is pushback, the client needs to insist on the interaction. Or find a collaboration-skilled advisor that will do the job. The successes to be reaped are worth the extra effort.
Imagine a world-class symphony preparing for a performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Think of what it would sound like if each orchestra member were to play their own music, ignoring the other performers and their instruments. Imagine how you would feel as the listener as you consider the high price you paid for the ticket. Now compare that to the beauty you would hear as the same symphony played together, putting on display their hours of practice together. The harmony. The flow. The resonance. That’s what real collaboration is all about.
When was the last time your Investment Manager collaborated with your Tax Professional? When was the last time your Life Insurance expert collaborated with your Estate Attorney?
Are your experts willing to collaborate with each other?
If this isn't yet happening for you, what opportunities are being left on the table?
If this article resonates with you, and you’re interested in finding out how these principles could make a difference in your business and personal life, click this link for a 30 minute virtual coffee meeting: https://calendly.com/horizonadvisors/30minvirtualcoffee