The call was being transferred to my office, Danielle said “Jane Brookwell is on the phone and would like a moment of your time”. My heart sank, it couldn’t be good news. I’ve known Jane for 17 years, she and her husband Terry are two of my longest standing clients, but Jane never rings. Terry takes care of all the finance stuff. So, in my mind I was immediately thinking something has happened, Terry must be in hospital. Unfortunately, it was worse. I picked up the phone, Jane said “I’m so glad you’re there, Terry passed away on the weekend and he always said if anything happens ring Jeff and he’ll tell you what you need to do, so that’s what I’m doing”.
My initial reaction was one of extreme sadness. Terry was one of the good guys. Loved life, a thorough gentleman and all about his big, happy family. He was only 68, way too young to be gone.
If anything happens, just call Jeff.
On reflection, now over two months since that call, I am still sad. I am also reflecting on my relationship with Terry and Jane. I feel pleased that the hard work Terry put in over his life and the careful planning that we did together has left Jane in a very comfortable financial position. I feel a great deal of responsibility, and the pride that comes with that, for the trust that Terry had in me to say “If anything happens just ring Jeff”. And, also for the trust that Jane has shown to follow through with that.
However, I feel somewhat uncomfortable that Jane felt so out of touch with their financial situation that she was compelled to just ring me to be told what to do. I am, of course, happy to help Jane manage the transition phase and will always be here for her. An important part of our role is to hold our clients hands when they need it. I will be there for Jane under any circumstance.
I can’t help but feel I could’ve done more to help Terry and Jane feel empowered to understand their financial position, as a couple, and feel confident they know where they stand and what needs to be done at all times.
Their situation isn’t overly complicated. It’s not too different to many successful people of a similar age. But there are a few moving parts and I can understand why it isn’t clear to Jane. It would be the same for the vast majority of the population.
The key takeout for me is to make sure that all of my clients, their partners and important people in their lives, understand their financial position. That they understand they are on track to achieve their goals but they know that we have a plan if things go wrong. That’s why we now focus on capturing our clients lives on a single page.
I still want my clients to ring me when things go wrong (and hopefully more often when things go right). Then I can be there to support them. Together, we can activate the plan and return certainty to their lives.