In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are featuring stories this week about women financial advisors who are defying the “old boys’ club” perception of financial advice.
Lucila Williams spent five years in the military before deciding to become a financial advisor, a career that she has found complements the skills she developed in the military.
After five years in the Army, integrity and service have become engrained in who I am. These values have shaped the way I run my practice. This is demonstrated by my values-based, process-driven approach to working with clients.
I meet with each client at least three times a year, covering a specific key topic during every visit. At the end of the year, clients know we’ve met, discussed, and have thoroughly worked through every aspect of their comprehensive financial plan. These meetings allow us to deepen our relationship and help put my clients at ease, knowing that nothing has slipped through the cracks. Clients really appreciate the process, which keeps them informed and reassured all along the way.
The first meeting of the year is a Risk Management Review. In this session, we look at the whole picture. Many of my clients are small business owners and many have families. We take those individual factors into account to create a financial life organizer—a roadmap that forms the basis of their retirement plan.
Next, we hold a Wealth Management Review in which we look at how their portfolio is performing. We consider investments, returns, taxes, allocations, risks and more.
Finally, we hold a Financial Plan Review, turning back to the initial plan that we built when they first became a client. We look at what the market has done, how the client’s goals and circumstances may have changed, and where the client wants to go from here.
This process helps me to provide the most comprehensive advice possible for my clients, and has proven especially valuable when working with couples and families. It is no secret that money and financial decisions can be incredible sources of strain on relationships. Getting to know clients on a personal level and taking the entire scope of their financial concerns into account can help advisors work together with couples who may have different ideas and values when it comes to spending and saving. I frequently help clients learn to make financial decisions together as a couple, easing their financial stress and giving them a sense of security as they adjust to each other’s unique personal finance style.
Likewise, when advisors stay closely connected to a client’s entire financial picture, intergenerational planning often becomes a natural part of the process. Working with clients’ children, and particularly the millennial generation, brings its own unique challenges. Many young people are trying to start their adult lives, get married, have children and make career moves, but struggle under the burden of student loan debt. Looking holistically at their finances and their goals allows me to help them budget and plan so that they do not need to put their lives on pause while dealing with debt.
Now more than ever, simply selling products to clients is an unsustainable model. The value of true financial advice is somewhat intangible, but clients recognize it over time. And once they come to appreciate the interactive process, a purely transactional relationship will not do. A values-based, process-driven approach to financial planning gives me the opportunity to take into account all of my clients’ challenges, passions, goals and fears, and use that knowledge and awareness to help them make their best financial decisions throughout their lives.
Lucila Williams, CFP® is the Founder and President of LOTUS Financial Partners and a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Securities, Member SIPC.