As already stated, the book is rich and filled with a lot of content, significant suggestions, and observations, so I won’t even attempt to summarize it. Instead, I’ll provide what I believe are the seven key attributes of the best professional advisers:
- Selfless Independence — Great advisers have an attitude of complete financial, intellectual, and emotional independence. They balance this independence with selflessness; they ‘re dedicated, loyal, and focus on their client’s agenda, not their own. It’s a fine line to draw. On one hand, you’re being responsive to a client’s needs and problems; on the other, you’re maintaining objectivity and honesty at all times.
- Empathy — This drives the ability to discern a client’s emotions and thoughts, and to appreciate the context within which that client operates. It enables advisers to diagnose what the problem really is.
- Deep Generalist — A continuing passion for learning drives the best advisers to continually broaden their knowledge.
- Synthesis — This is the ability to see the big picture, to draw out the themes and patterns inherent in masses of data and information. It includes related skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. The ability to synthesize sets advisers apart from subject matter experts, who rely mainly on analysis.
- Judgment — The culmination of studying a particular complex situation and providing the client with a clear path forward.
- Conviction — This comes into play as the adviser offers opinions, recommendations, and judgments. In my experience, the client really wants to know what you would do or what you think they should do. That’s what they hire you for.
- Integrity — This attribute comprises a constellation of skills and behaviors that build trust, including discretion, consistency, reliability, and the ability to discern right from wrong.
In closing, if you’re a professional adviser and/or lead a team of professional advisers, this 2o-year-old book is a must-read and a must re-read.
p.s. In addition to the authors’ personal pearls of wisdom, they reference additional outstanding books to support their position. Many of them you may have already read — but, like me, you may find a few new ones to read in the future.