Bryan is a numbers guy. One day during the first leg of his 3 hour commute Bryan* calculated how many hours he'd spent commuting to the city during his 20+ years trading on Wall Street. The answer stunned him: 304 days.
Bryan had spent nearly one year of his life on the train.
That morning as he climbed the stairs to Penn Station he saw life through a different lens. The work he used to love owned a bigger part of his life that than he'd realized -- until he did the math -- and he wanted it back. The job was different, and not in good ways, and his boys were growing up without him. It was time for a change. It was time to make a call, and he made it.
But it wasn’t his boss or his wife Bryan called.
“Frank,” he said to his financial life guide, “I’m ready.”
When you know that something has to change...and that 'something' is you.
For four years, Frank -- Bryan's financial advisor -- had managed Bryan’s money. He prepared his taxes, advised on investments, reviewed his insurance, assisted him with building his estate plan, and helped him and his wife plan for the children’s college and their own, eventual retirement. But during those four years Frank was listening to more than just Bryan’s goals for financial security and wealth accumulation. He listened for insight into Bryan’s peace of mind and his satisfaction with life.
What he heard was, that, though his job was lucrative, Bryan was miserable at work. His relationships were strained at home. He saw that Bryan lacked energy, that his passion for his work had wilted and his vision for his future was unfocused and uninspired.
One day, during a monthly check-in, Frank opened their meeting by closing his laptop and looking Bryan directly in the eyes, “Bryan, I've been listening to you for months now, and you're unhappier and less engaged each time we meet. In every conversation, you talk about your anxiety and dissillusionment with your job. Does this sound like a fair observation to you?" Bryan nodded, both pained and relieved at the same time. "You know," Frank continued, "there are other careers you would like. You have potential to grow and be happy if you make a change.”
It was a kind of a life coach moment Bryan didn’t expect to have with the guy who 'managed his money'. For the next hour, he and Frank talked only about Bryan's desire to leave Wall Street -- and his fears and insecurities about this desire. Frank led Bryan in an excercise that revealed some opportunities, challenges and possible solutions to those challenges that inspired Bryan and gave him the encouragement to start dreaming again -- dreaming of his optimal life and daring to believe he could have it.
It didn’t move him to quit that day, but the feelings and ideas he shared with Frand during that afternoon stuck with him for months.
“He was like a guardian angel on my shoulder - helping me prepare for a major life change so I could take that next step with confidence," Bryan says. "I couldn't just pick up and walk out on Wall Street," he continues, "but Frank helped me take steps in that direction -- helping me save more money for my kids' college, secure the best mortgage, evaluate and act on sound business investment opportunities - he advised me on all of it. Before, I made those decisions alone or didn't make them at all. Working with Frank, there was peace of mind knowing someone was looking over my shoulder - someone to work with I could depend on. It gave my wife peace of mind, too. She knew I was taking deliberate, common-sense steps towards something better for all of us, and she knew I had the right person to help me--help us.”
We have a secret to share. Those dreams you have of a more fulfilling life? Never give up on them. They're still possible.
Like it is for many of us, Bryan’s industry is in transition. He could see sweeping changes coming down the path. Some changes he liked but many more, he didn't. And after 20 years, Bryan, himself, had changed, too.
Frank could read the nonverbal cues Bryan gave that indicated his enjoyment of life, and his increasing levels of stress and anxiety. That led to a discussion about changing careers and how that could happen without throwing his whole life into chaos and uncertaintly. Frank not only helped Bryan map out a financial plan to support this deliberate goal, he suggested Bryan visit a career counselor, and together, they read his assessments and went over the recommendations. Frank helped Bryan identify career opportunities and practice for interviews.
This had zero to do with making Bryan the most money. It was about giving him the insight and coaching he needed to live a worthwhile life -- his optimal life.
That kind of counsel is the essence of financial life guidance. It’s a deeper level of service where an advisor becomes a coach and the client a friend. The coach’s leadership extends to all areas of the friend’s life. Instead of offering advice, a financial life guide offers insight. The goal: To restore vigor and passion to the client’s life in every area and to help the client achieve his/her optimal life.
When an advisor uses the financial life guidance model, he or she is committed to providing value in every aspect of life where we need clarity and insight, at work, in business or at home. Annual review coming up with the boss? Feeling undervalued and overworked and anxious about the upcoming conversation? Rather than going in guns blazing or abandoning our interests to keep the peace, a financial life guide would listen to a client's concerns, help develop context for different scenarios and, importantly, identify opportunity and options in every outcome -- opportunities and options rooted in real-life obligations, concerns, dreams, abilities and assets.
For Bryan, that financial life guidance started when he came to Frank for tax prep and wealth management. Working with Frank, Bryan was realizing his financial goals, but he was also learning to let Frank coach him on all the areas of his life where money is a factor (and that’s virtually everywhere). It culminated with the encouragement he needed from a coach to make a career change. He’s now the CFO of a local company he believes in. His commute is now less time than it takes to drink his coffee, and he’s able to catch all his boys games. Life at home is less stressful, sweeter. Bryan is closer to living his optimal life than he's ever been, and his renewed passion for his family, friends and community life proves it.
“In the four years I worked with my advisor it cost me $50,000. If I hadn’t hired him I’d still be doing ok. But I’d still have a three hour commute. I’d still not have areas of fulfillment in my life. He opened up new opportunities to me. That $50,000 has multiplied in value with what I’ve gotten out of them.”
If you’re approaching a new phase of life or chafing at the restraints of a life that no longer feels authentic, you’ve got an opportunity to stop and reevaluate your goals. A financial life guide can give perspective to evaluate your current life, and a financial plan to achieve what you really want.
Blue Blaze Financial Advisors offers free virtual office hours. Begin living your optimal life today and make your appointment, now.
*Client names and personal characteristics have been changed to protect their privacy.