Repetition can be comforting
One notable quality of many forms of media produced specifically for children is the repetition of a phrase intended to firmly root an idea or lesson in the mind of the child. Since it’s common for kids to watch the same movies over and over again, or request that we read the same books to them night after night after night, I tend to think of these types of phrases as something similar to a security blanket, something that brings comfort in a world that is often anything but. Think “just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo or “hakuna matata” from The Lion King or “once upon a time” from, well, pretty much everything.
A movie from 2005 called Robots (that is not-so-memorable otherwise) has succeeded in establishing a permanent place in my memory strictly on the strength of one such phrase repeated several times: “See a need, fill a need.” Simple, yes, but also a pretty complex idea for a kids’ movie, if you ask me. I believe it’s stuck with me primarily because the people I most respect, love, and aspire to emulate are those who live this idea through their actions and words.
A little background . . .
My parents have many great qualities, including organizational skills, attention to detail, extremely strong work ethics, and persistence. Nonetheless, one ongoing struggle they have always been challenged with is how to successfully manage their finances. I’m frequently reminded of the irony that the industry I have ended up working in is geared toward helping those like my parents for whom money management is their Achilles heel.
When I was 14, I already had my Dad’s work ethic. And, at the time there was not very much food on the table. I began babysitting for a family that was much more comfortable financially than my own. But, this wasn’t normal babysitting. My mom always insisted that babysitting meant clearing out dishes in the sink, doing laundry, and generally picking up, as well as doing some light cleaning. So, babysitting became nannying, then housekeeping, housesitting, extreme house cleaning, and even teaching homeschooling curriculum, all by the time I was sixteen. I would even give my paper planner to my employer and she would call her friends to fill the open times in my schedule for every weekday in high school and weekends.
It took years and the perspective that comes with hindsight for me to understand that the woman who employed me saw a need and filled a need. Not only did she fill my calendar; she mentored me financially and personally. She also frequently sent me home with leftover meals and food they “weren’t going to eat or didn’t like.” I had blueberries for the first time, along with Brussel sprouts, avocados, and much more! Only recently have I realized that she purposefully brought home extra groceries to be able to send eggs, milk, and other staples we just couldn’t afford home with me. Out of everyone in this world, she is the angel in my life who saw what I needed and, without being asked, singlehandedly set my life straight by being exactly what I needed at the time. She was an invaluable resource in my life, not because she had to be, but because she chose to be.
Build relationships by being there
Identifying where there are deficits is a skill, one that is honed and improved on with practice. Are you working on developing this skill with your book of business? In your office, is there a directive to focus on client needs? A need can be anything the client requires assistance with that you have the power to help with.
The potential for meeting client needs can vary widely but might include such actions as reminding clients to re-up their insurance coverages yearly, reaching out prior to driver’s licenses expiration dates, or prioritizing “just because” points of contact for clients who seem to take comfort in those types of interactions, which is often the case for those who live alone.
One theme I see over and over again among advisory offices is that clients who are not consistently engaged with outside of client reviews are much more likely to either cancel services or to present surprises during the review, such as having moved months prior without notifying the advisor. Staying on the client’s radar is imperative for a successful advisor-client relationship, particularly for those clients who’ve made it clear they need those extra “touches”.
When you’re fulfilling these types of needs, you’re also solidifying a firm presence at the forefront of your client’s mind. They’ve enlisted your aid because they either don’t have the time or they don’t have the ability to manage their finances on their own; when you anticipate their needs and fill them, some of the magic of the proverbial security blanket will hopefully rub off on you and allow you to offer a measure of comfort to your clients. Wouldn’t you rather hold that place of honor in your clients’ minds than cede it to something like a silly movie from 2005 about robots?