Successful Advisors Need Successful Clients

Successful advisors need successful investors

The other night my daughter Phoebe lamented the fact that the pandemic had essentially brought her baby-sitting career to a hard stop.  She said she missed the money, but even more so she really missed the kids. Phoebe had even gone so far as to setting up a zoom call with one of the moms so she could see kids from one of her favorite families.  When the kids’ dad found out about it, he was not only touched by her thoughtfulness, but set up a regular weekly 60-minute call at her regular babysitting rate so their kids could get some relative normalcy. 

I told her I was impressed; she’s always been very resourceful and driven.  And confidence has never been lacking in the kid.  She “jokingly” replied that she was the best baby-sitter ever, even better than her big sister Maeve! But Phoebe admitted to me that she adored the kids so much, and it was fun to see and spend screen time with them. She teasingly asked me if I was the best financial advisor ever. 

Hmmm . . . she got me thinking.  Phoebe always has and always will likes to challenge the ol’man.

I said to her that it depends. I told her that I work extremely hard, always have since my first paper route at age ten. I am dedicated and determined to do my best, but just as she experienced, much of the successful client relationships I have, really starts with them.

I find that many of my most successful clients already enjoy many common financial and personal traits when I first meet them. I also find that while others may not have the same state of financial and emotional readiness, they demonstrate a willingness to learn these traits and put them into practice with the ultimate goal of a sound retirement system.

For example, I’ve seen some very successful people who are able to resist the urge for immediate gratification, but still enjoy life every day. They buy homes and cars intending on keeping them for the long term.  They’re open to trading durability and function over status and short-term material gain.  They don’t mind getting their hands dirty with do-it-yourself projects and day-to-day maintenance around the house.  They take pride in a certain amount of self-sufficiency, rather than looking to what they can buy.   They usually have some debt like a mortgage, but it is usually smart, forward looking debt rather than less desirable debt, such as credit cards that can drag on any sound retirement system.

I find over and over again that financially successful people hold many of the same values and exhibit the same behaviors. Values and behaviors that drive them to better results and greater financial serenity. In fact, an Allianz Life study supports this practice and found several characteristics that people who retire early share. For example:

They start saving and investing early in life. This is a learned behavior. Most financially successful people develop a healthy relationship with money because their parents took time to teach them valuable life lessons about money.  They in turn pass it on to their children.

They tend to have healthy marriages and personal relationships. This one makes sense. Money can’t buy you love, but frequent arguments about money can tear a relationship apart.  Conflicting values about money is often overlooked early on in serious relationships.  Those couples that can get on the same page often thrive financially.

They appreciate what they have. I see a wide spectrum of what people consider to be financially comfortable. For these folks, a specific dollar amount is less relevant than their approach to life.  A dinner at a fancy restaurant is nice, but a lot of folks I know love nothing better than sliding into a booth at their favorite local restaurant.

They keep calm and carry on. Having peace of mind about their current financial circumstances and their financial future is key for people seeking a comfortable retirement.  They seek growth that is interwoven with managing downside risk that could derail things down the road.

All of these traits show the importance of a healthy relationship with money. Seeking wealth is not the problem, rather it is how we view wealth that often determines life satisfaction. A Binghamton University study showed that those who viewed wealth as a sign of “success” were far more contented than those who saw wealth as their key to happiness.

And while I take pride in the technical expertise and the systematic and quantitative approach to the retirement planning experience my team and I bring to the table, as I explained to Phoebe, folks play a critical role in their own success. As I tell my girls and have taught them, well, since birth really . . . attitude and effort are everything!

And as always – be vigilant and stay alert, because you deserve more!

Have a great week.

Jeff Cutter, CPA/PFS is President of Cutter Financial Group, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor with offices in Falmouth, Duxbury, Mansfield & Southlake, TX. Jeff can be reached at

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