In our experience, when families find themselves ready to update or supplement the work they’ve done previously, the quality of their planning experience substantially impacts to the quality of their planning outcomes. Will they feel skepticism or support? Will they find reticence or reinforcement?
We believe the advisors’ underlying motivations directly influence the client’s clarity and confidence, and in turn their planning results. Plenty of insurance advisors will suggest they are client centric. At SMB, our motivation has deeper roots.
In complex planning, the plan itself touches multiple disciplines and areas of expertise simultaneously. We believe that to serve clients well, each of the advisors on the team must have an authentic interest in the whole of
the plan, not just their part.
When this motivation is pure and genuine across the full advisory team, the various pieces of the plan don’t just coordinate, they complement each other. The legal, tax, investment and insurance aspects actually enhance each other – the complete system functioning more elegantly than a single piece could possibly achieve on its own.
“Coming together is a beginning,
staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
Whether we’re invited into the planning process by a family, or by their longstanding advisors, our commitment to the process is grounded by a sense of honor for the history that has led to the current scenario. Through leadership, innovation and perseverance, the client has created something substantial. We’re grateful to play a role in stewarding the next phase of the journey.
AS SUCH, WE COME TO THE TABLE READY TO LISTEN DEEPLY. WE KNOW THAT THE TOPICS WE’LL BROACH WILL BE SOME OF THE MOST DELICATE MATTERS IN LIFE: FROM PRIVACY TO FAMILY TO LEGACY. WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR THE INVITATION TO CONTRIBUTE.
THROUGHOUT OUR FIRM’S SIX DECADES IN BUSINESS, WE’VE HELD THESE VALUES AT OUR CORE. NOW INTO OUR SECOND GENERATION OF LEADERSHIP, THEY REMAIN OUR CORNERSTONE.
When these values frame the dialogue, the mutual honor and respect that is in the room allows the client to relax into their own planning. Conversations and strategies that may have been cumbersome in the past seem to flow more easily. The trustworthy advisory dynamic they’ve relied upon for years is now mirrored across every member of the collective team.
“When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.”
– Steven Covey
As we delve into the intricacies of the planning process, we show up with an inquiry-driven mindset. We actively learn the advisors’ and client’s preferred communication style, both method and frequency. We seek to fully understand the inner workings of the planning foundation that has already been laid.
Then we offer the intellectual curiosity to bring multiple options to the planning table. If we’re asked to provide a specific solution, we do so. Yet likewise, we find that the first solution isn’t always the final answer. We dig deeper, asking ourselves layer upon layer of questions about what nuances would best complement the plan design. We look for ways to combine multiple product types or strategies, and to create insur- ance portfolios that are flexible, knowing that the only constant of life is change.
This deeper dive may only be relevant 75% of the time. However, the client wouldn’t know when to ask for the additional research and analytics. We own the discernment, kicking the tires on our own creativity every time. Offering options is like cross-training for the client’s decision-making gene, lending an exhale of clarity and confidence to their choices.
“Follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
– Steve Jobs
When a particular cycle of planning is complete, the client has seen multiple thought-partners coming together as a well-integrated team. Their result is a seamless plan-one that exudes sustainable confidence.
However, we believe post-planning support is equally important. Once the plan is implemented, it actually becomes more important with each passing year. CPAs and attorneys are predisposed to reconcile their completed work against any external impact from their governing disciplines, such as changes to the tax code or legal statutes. Someone must play the same role on the insurance side.
Many aren’t aware that insurance portfolios are living, breathing entities. Changes in the economy and financial markets as well as legal and tax environments can impact a policy’s ability to perform in the manner intended. Likewise, families, businesses, careers and life circumstances are in constant motion.
Our quarterly checkpoints and annual review model actively vet actual market performance against our original projections. We also review clients’ original objectives against their current life, family and business situation. This model provides clients with reinforcement for what they implemented and why, effectively decreasing post-planning doubts or uneasiness.
Importantly, insurance is often a 50 to 60 year promise, inherently touching multiple generations. While many insurance firms will promise to serve a portfolio forever, they don’t have a plan for what forever looks like. At SMB, we live the multi-generational commitment every day. Our second generation of ownership is firmly in place and we are actively building and mentoring our third generation.
“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.”
– Margaret Thatcher