“I try to be a smart quarterback. I’m not the fastest or the best athlete, but if I can know what the defense is doing and stick to my job and what needs to be done I can make the plays needed to move the ball and score.”
-Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants
The words of Eli Manning are an important reminder for so many different efforts in life – it takes a team, each sticking to their own job and getting it done – even if you have a lead role, you’re only as good as the other athletes you run with. If the QB joins the offensive line, he would get destroyed in the first play. If he ran the ball down the field by himself every time, the opposing team would figure out his strategy pretty quickly and shut him down.
The role of the financial advisor is similar. There’s a lot riding on them, many calls to be made, but a great financial advisor knows how to match up an expert with a need and let them run with it when coordinating a financial team. An advisor who tries to write a will or a lawyer who tries to give tax pointers is a bit like a quarterback who tries to join the offensive line – the play won’t work the best and injuries may follow.
Many Roles, Same Team
Consider an example. Jane realizes she’s getting up in years, and would like to prepare her considerable estate for her family. Jane is very close to her adult children, and knows they all have unique financial needs and wishes – some are in a tight financial place and some are well-off.
Jane will need legal counsel in this case (lawyer) to divide the estate in a way that’s equitable and yet sensitive to the needs of her heirs. She’ll also need to understand the tax implications, as it’s located in several different asset types (accountant/financial advisor). Her late husband’s retirement account from Acme Welldiggers has been rolling over for years, and she has no idea how to get the most out of it (financial advisor). Add to this her own health problems, the decaying family cabin in another state, and her own business ventures, and she’ll need several professionals by the time the Will is read.
Fortunately, her family has dealt with the same financial advisor firm for generations. Jane knows her advisor is well-versed in a lot of disciplines, but also knows when to bring in another expert. She makes an appointment with her advisor who helps her develop a plan to talk with each professional when needed. After interacting with these different disciplines, she and her advisor put together a coherent plan that results in a fair and protected legacy for each of her children.
Just in this fairly straightforward example of an advisory team, there’s already an attorney, accountant, and a financial advisor. Some of the relationships between these professionals are born out of obvious necessity, such as taxes and legal matters corresponding. But there are other experts – other positions on the team – to consider as well. An insurance agent, business valuation expert, psychologist, mortgage broker, group benefits expert, professional business coach – might all be considered for a full lineup.
Finances are a cross-disciplinary reality, touching on almost every aspect of life. If you’ve just been through a divorce, your finances may be affected by legal fees, temporary housing, etc. If you’re grieving the sudden loss of one of your parents, you may not have the psychological or emotional perspective to think about big purchases. Getting diverse input from different members of your team can help you see an issue from all sides.
Coordinating the financial team can be a vital role for the financial advisor. The lawyer can help make sure you get your share of the family estate, a CPA can help you get it in a tax-efficient way, and an advisor can help you invest your profits. But if they’re not working together then money will fall out of every seam in the process. At our firm, we believe in connecting professionals to bring about the best possible outcome.
An advisor needs to know your legal status as much as a lawyer needs to know your financial holdings, and your CPA needs to know both. At TFS, we also work under the fiduciary standard that puts your best interests above everything else, and so can advise in the direction that’s best for your future.
A good quarterback advisor will know how to make this team work together.
Stay in Your Lane
Staying in your lane – staying in your position to put it in football terms – is one of the most difficult parts of the teamwork process. Trusting the other members of a team is where it starts – trusting in their unique abilities and seeing the larger picture and the part they play in it.
We’ve all heard the old saying “jack of all trades, master of none.” This can be the truth on a team in which all the members are trying to do the other members’ jobs for them – they end up short-changing both.
Better to have an expert in the law, a genius with tax codes, and a whiz with investments all working together rather than one person who knows a little bit about each of these things. Such a jack-of-all-trades in this case will misspend time and – even worse – waste money.
Be a Smart Quarterback
Ronna Lichtenberg’s famous book on office politics gives us an insightful title we can all relate to if we’re being honest: Work Would Be Great If It Weren’t For the People. Human beings working together, especially on an emotional topic like money, can make for a familiar friction that can mute performance and shrink outcomes.
“Be a smart quarterback,” says Manning, and this is true of great quarterback advisors as well – you’re vital to the game, but you don’t win it on your own. Being smart means allowing others to make decisions (even some the QB may not agree with) and allowing others to get that most sought-after of prizes: credit. The best advisor knows when to stop one team member and bring in another, when to guide and when to get out of the way when coordinating a financial team.
A Winning Season
Great quarterbacks play with the long game in mind. Financial success – like athletic success – isn’t made up of “Hail Mary” passes and lucky moments. Quarterback advisors think strategy and coordination, trusting their team members for the information and expertise needed, and helping you make more informed decisions.
At TFS Advisors, we play the long game with a winning season in mind, not just a few lucky passes. Our collective experience and expertise give us the clear-headed focus needed in coordinating a financial team. When you win, so do we, and it’s a privilege and honor to be on the field with you.