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Loss of a Client

At 11 o’clock last night I sat in my kitchen, head in my hands, stifling sobs. I told my husband “This is the worst part of my job!” Yesterday was a long day, and once I was finally at home, I completed one last sweep of my work email and calendar to get a handle on what was pending for the morning. But I was not prepared for what I received; an email from one of my favorite client’s addresses, except it wasn’t from him, it was from his longtime love to tell me that he had suddenly passed away in the afternoon. I had dinner with him less than a week ago. We made tentative plans for upcoming weeks. He was young, vibrant, happy, full of life, showing picture of his recent home project, talking about his upcoming plans, and as funny as he always was. I sat there in silence. I re-read that email no less than a dozen times, I couldn’t believe it was true. Hoping that I was wrong and I had misread the words, that it was somehow a cruel joke. A few minutes later, the tears hit and I cried for a half hour. I truly feel this repeated loss is the hardest part of our jobs.

There are many misconceptions about our profession, the most prominent is that many people do not realize what motivates personal wealth advisors to do their jobs. First and foremost, we love people, we want to help, and want to help make a difference in your lives. In short, we want to help YOU achieve YOUR dream. We are invested in you, your family, and your success.

We become enmeshed in our client’s lives. We celebrate with them in marriages, births, and achieving milestones. We grieve with them during a divorce, loss of a loved one or a job. This is a people oriented business, where we come to care about you as we do our own family.

No matter your perception, financial planning is a personal process and in turn your financial advisors learn all about you.

You’ve shared all about your business or profession. Your passion for volunteering or your garden. Your desire to mentor the next generation or become a mom. We’ve learned about the birth of your grandchildren and how they are the light of your life. We’ve also learned the trials and tribulations of your family- both the one you grew up in and the one you created. We’ve discussed your concerns for your future, your children and the world around you. We’ve supported you when life has not been kind. We’ve listen to the joy when you hit a milestone or goal. We even learned how your relationship to money in childhood impacts the decision you make with it today. We’ve challenged you to think about retirement, how you want to spend your time once you do stop working. We’ve also encouraged you to discuss difficult topics such as death and disability. We have truly listened.

In our careers, we may work with 100 - 200 or even 500 households. We are not focused on transactional sales. We develop relationships that span decades. After years of working with clients and their families you develop a relationship that far exceeds many other professional relationships and families, you end up becoming good friends in the process.

Tash Elwyn, the President and CEO of Raymond James & Associates, often says that ours is a noble profession as financial advisors have a tremendous opportunity to positively impact our client’s lives. I agree. Our profession is all about people. Where people spend every day, all day, helping others prepare and plan for their biggest concerns and their biggest dreams.

This life is funny as not all of us are graced with a long and healthy life that is usually held as the ideal standard. While we can intellectually understand, nothing prepares you emotionally for the sudden loss of one of your favorite humans- who is also one of your favorite clients- one that you’ve lovingly helped plan and prepare for every scenario.

Losing clients far too soon always has a profound impact on me personally and how I work with clients. It reminds me every day that we shape our clients’ worlds, and in turn they shape ours.

We will miss you Tim, but I am confident in our plan and that you’re loved ones will be financially prepared.

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