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Improve Your Relationship with Your Advisor

Improve Your Relationship with Your Advisor (and Improve Your Bottom Line)

What is This Column About? Glad You Asked

This column is about how you can improve your relationship with your advisor (accountant, attorney, or trusted financial manager). First, let’s get our nomenclature straight. By “advisor,” I mean people who are paid (usually by the hour) to give you business or investment advice or to do things for you, financially, that you cannot do yourself. By “trusted” I assume, in this column, that you treat your lawyer or other paid professional as being honest and good at what he or she does. If they are not, you have problems that I am not even going to approach.

But, make no mistake, if you read this column through to the end (which you should do anyway) you will make smarter decisions about the professionals you hire. However, this column certainly will not teach you the substantive knowledge that professionals need to possess to render wise advice and provide good services. If you’re interested in that knowledge, getting an MBA is a good start.

You might also like, “Understanding Your Financial Advisor’s Biases”

One more note: I am a lawyer and tend to think about things from my lawyerly perspective (which often annoys my family). So, many of my examples involve lawyers. Don’t let that limit you, however. Almost everything you read here, and in future installments, can make your relationship with all your trusted advisors better. Hell, you might even want to apply my advice to your love life.

So, that’s this column, and that is me. Hi.

Success Depends as Much on You as it does Them

While your trusted advisor is not perfect, neither are you. Some people never come to that realization! Did you know that something as basic as how you phrase a question can impact the advice you get?

How you react to the answers you get and how much information you share with your advisor will have a serious impact on the quality of advice you receive. If you want to improve your relationship with your advisor, evaluate what you say and how to say it- are you getting your point across? Are you communicating your needs well and being honest about your reasons and choices of goals? Start there.

How you react to the answers you get and how much information you share with your advisor will have a serious impact on the quality of advice you receive.

Ultimately, the way to improve your relationship with your advisor and get higher quality service and advice is no different from how you would get better goods or services from any other vendors.You need to be a smart buyer and a good manager.

When dealing with attorneys, you don’t need a legal degree, but it helps to have a basic understanding of the legal process. In other words, you will make wiser decisions by better understanding which issues you can control and which you cannot (and which you should not waste your time or money trying to control).

You might also like, “Seeking a Money Magician? 5 Don’t’s When Selecting a Financial Advisor (and 5 Do’s)

If you want to improve your relationship with your advisor, keep in mind that you are not a lawyer (if you’re not) and don’t try to be one. You hired them for a reason.

Improve Your Relationship with Your Advisor by Speaking Their Language

Lawyers and accountants tend to be very literal. If you go to a friend or a therapist and say, “I really want to fire my business partner,” she will likely take this to mean, “I really want to tell you how angry I am at my business partner so that I can get it off my chest, calm down and rationally decide what to do.”

Most lawyers will assume you mean what you say (“I want to fire my partner”) and advise you of the best way to go down that road, without feeling the need to explore your feelings. They will not offer advice designed to help you figure out how to, perhaps, repair the relationship.

Go to your friend to vent. Go to your attorney to make a plan.

The Best Advisors Don’t Just Advise

The very best advisors are a heady combination of book smarts and street smarts, not just one or the other. A good advisor will read situations and people alike, while having empathy for your frame of mind, and the others who will be impacted by the results. The best-trusted advisors are clever and creative problem solvers who operate with the highest level of integrity, honesty, and ethical conduct. Not all trusted advisors are excellent, in fact, and some should not even be trusted.

Can you tell the difference between the two types? If not, the best way to improve your relationship with your advisor, and improve your bottom line in one, fell swoop is to get the hell outta there.

About Henry Krasnow

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