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.
After watching her own family struggle with finances following a Parkinson’s diagnosis and a lack of long-term care planning, Tish Gray used her own experience to propel her to build a practice helping other families prepare for the unexpected.
John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Unfortunately, people often fail to plan for the unexpected, perhaps because it is hard to appreciate the importance of a comprehensive financial plan until something goes awry. When I was 22 years old, I learned the value of planning the hard way following my grandfather’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. Anyone who has ever been close to someone with Parkinson’s or another chronic illness understands how heartbreaking it is for the entire family. In addition to the physical toll on the patient and the emotional toll that the disease takes on family members, there is a significant financial burden. While we cannot necessarily predict our long-term health, we can commit to planning for this and other unexpected risks.
After that experience and several others, I committed myself to a career helping other families prepare for the unexpected. In everything I do, I try to focus on the big picture. And in my opinion, one of the best ways to help clients meet their big picture goals is by taking a “teaming” or joint-work approach.
The success that I have achieved at 39 years old would not be possible if I had not adopted a teaming strategy early in my career. Working with other professionals with varying areas of expertise allows me to maximize the benefit that I bring to a client. Typically, a team of financial advisors has about 100 years of experience combined. I simply cannot bring that much wisdom, expertise and insight to the table on my own. At the same time, working side by side with these specialists helps me grow my own skill set and continue to learn how to best serve my clients.
For high-net-worth clients especially, teaming is a must. For example, I once worked with a very diligent client who thought he had attended to every detail of his financial plan. He asked my team and me to double-check. Together with an estate-planning specialist, a stock option expert and a few other financial planning professionals, I realized some startling discrepancies between the client’s goals and what his financial plan was actually accomplishing. In the end, our team of advisors helped this particular client quadruple his net worth.
A holistic approach to financial planning that involves a team of specialists helps bring the client’s long-term goals into focus. Advisors often cannot help leaning on their own area of expertise. In doing so, they risk leaving parts of the client’s financial plan weaker than the rest.
As baby boomers begin to retire, it becomes increasingly important for advisors to look at distribution planning. Due to the size of the generation, the massive amount of assets held, and other unique planning needs that distinguish this demographic, boomers need specialists in different areas to make sure that all the pieces of their financial plan work together to create a comprehensive strategy. Here, teaming is an incredibly effective tool.
Our goal as financial advisors is to ensure that a client can maintain their lifestyle and protect the wealth that took years to accumulate, invest and grow. Accomplishing that task requires being prepared for all of the risks that people face as they age: increasing life expectancy, taxes, investment rate of return, inflation, market volatility, unexpected health care costs and more.
Working with other advisors gives me the opportunity to learn from them and improve the overall strength of my client’s financial plan. It helps me to develop professionally, and my business has benefited greatly from it, as clients see the value of my holistic, team-based approach to financial planning.
Tish Gray, LTCP, CRPC is a private wealth advisor with Sagemark Consulting/Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Member SIPC.