How a client’s tears changed my life

I had been an independent financial adviser for 15 years and I was getting bored. Talking about pensions, life assurance, investments, funds, volatility and returns was not very exciting. And did it make any real difference to our clients’ lives? Probably not.

Then, one very wet Monday evening, an existing client came into our office to discuss investing some money. I went through the normal process of an investment risk analysis, considering timescales for when the money would be required and drafting out a proposed investment portfolio.

I then asked the client a question about work and she burst into tears. I sympathetically asked her what the problem was and it turned out she was being bullied but, because of her financial commitments, she felt she was stuck and had to put up with it.

I asked her what the money she was proposing to invest was actually for and she replied that it was for a rainy day. I told her it was pouring, and, for dramatic effect, I ripped up the piece of paper with the draft portfolio we had just constructed and threw it in the bin, along with £1,500 in commission.

We then did some basic cash flow projections to calculate how long she could survive without a job if she went into work the following day and resigned. We estimated about 18 months. She was confident she could find a new role in that time.

We then considered how much she would need to earn as a self-employed consultant to maintain her standard of living. Again, quite roughly, we estimated she should need to work about 2½ days a week. She left our office in a much better mood.

The following morning she phoned me and said she wanted to thank me for my advice. She said I had changed her life as I had taken all the stress away and she had decided against resigning. She would instead continue to work, but more relaxed in the knowledge that if things got too bad she could just leave.

Within a year she had a new job and life is now good. Looking back I don’t know if I really changed her life, but this experience certainly changed mine. For that is when I realised this was the type of work I really wanted to do – I just had to work out how to get paid for it!

A few months later I attended a course which introduced me to the software which enables us to provide life changing advice. More than a decade on, our whole business is based around lifestyle financial planning and we have been able to help lots of clients achieve their desired lifestyle, ticking off wonderfully exciting bucket lists. You couldn’t pay me enough to be an ordinary independent financial adviser now.