Remove emotion when dealing with money decisions
I recently received a call from my client, who shared with me that her husband of fifty-two years had passed away. I could feel the sadness and pain in her fragile voice. The reason for her call was she needed help filling out the death claim forms the insurance company sent her. The life insurance policy was a very small policy the husband took out when they had their first child. I was a child myself when they bought this policy. I could have easily told her how to fill out the paperwork over the phone. But, that is not what I did, I told my client I’d be happy to stop by and that together we would fill out all the paperwork and mail it back to the insurance company.
She said that she didn’t want me to take time out of my busy day and drive all the way to her home just to help her fill out the paperwork. I said to her with everything going on around you right now; it would be a pleasure to help you fill out the forms. She thanked me, and I set an appointment to visit her in two days.
As I pulled up to her home, she was waiting for me on her front porch. She greeted me with a strong, compassionate hug. I could see the puffiness around her eyes, which suggests that she had been crying for a long time. And why not, she had been married for fifty-two years. She invited me in, and as we walked to her dining room table, I saw the paperwork, a pen and a large box of tissues. She began to share with me what happened with her husband, within about thirty seconds, tears rolled down her face like Niagara Falls. She was completely overcome by the realization that she will never see her loving husband again.
I reached for the large box of tissues and handed it to her. She thanked me, and we remained in perfect silence for what seemed like an hour, but it was only for a minute or two. Whenever I’m in this type of situation, I never know what to say, and whatever I do say, seems dumb and idiotic. So I sat there in silence and tried to support her any way I could. I had already been there for over an hour when we finally got around to doing the paperwork, which only took about ten to fifteen minutes to complete. After a few more minutes, we said our goodbyes, and once again she gave me a strong warm hug. With tears in her eyes, she told me again how much it meant to her that I came all this way to help her with the paperwork.
I got into my car and drove home in silence; I began to think about the work I do, the lives I touch, the difference I make in their lives, not just from a financial standpoint, but from a human, emotional and caring point of view. I thought about people in the financial service profession, mostly transactional people like stock brokers, and would they have done what I just did, spend over an hour supporting and helping a client, knowing I will not make a dime worth of commission, sadly I would have to say no, they wouldn’t. And I’m proud to say that I’m not the only person to do what I have done, I’ve spoken with many financial advisors who also have helped their clients in the same situation.
I’m not superman or wear a red cape or fly, but there is a feeling of pride and satisfaction knowing I did the right thing for my client. I helped to give her a little peace of mind if only for a minute or two, maybe even made her smile, and that is what helps me to sleep comfortably at night and get out of bed in the morning.