I recently had the opportunity to listen in at a roundtable for financial advisors, as they talked about their concerns regarding the current state of the financial markets and how their clients are dealing with it. Worry, dread and angst seemed to win out over the "glass is half full" crowd. Heads all began nodding in unison when one advisor mentioned how painful it was to go over the statement for one of his retired clients -- knowing that the value of the client's account was down considerably.
I couldn't help but think how unsettling it must be to plan meticulously to ensure that your nest egg will last at least as long as you do, only to discover that it very well might not. Many of us, myself included, may not live long enough to see our market values return back to the levels they were in the good old days. So what can we do?
The answer is simple: We need to shorten our lifespan.
If you can't recoup your clients' losses in a reasonable amount of time, then, as their financial advisor, maybe you should encourage them to take up fun-filled, extremely dangerous hobbies. After all, who doesn't want to check out of this world with their boots on and their guns blazing? Personally, I would consider it an honor if, at my funeral, people were saying, "At least he went out living life to the fullest. I just wish he would have remembered to fill up the gas tank on his plane before he took off."
The phrase "Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse!" was first uttered back in 1949 by actor John Derek in the film Knock on Any Door, which also starred Humphrey Bogart. I doubt that John or Humphrey had any idea their little catchphrase would be equally appropriate 60 years later, in 2009.
So how do you go about implementing such a program? I would suggest tying it in with your client appreciation events. For example, most of us, at one time or another, have held a client-appreciation dinner. You might offer that same dinner this year -- only invite a celebrity. Some possible dinner companions might include Robert Blake, O.J. Simpson or Claus von B?low.
Another way to win the love and trust of your clients is via animals. Offer a client appreciation camping trip to Denali National Park in Alaska. You could call it "Camping with the Grizzlies." Before the trip, make sure each camper has at least 25 pounds of beef jerky in his or her suitcase.
In keeping with the animal theme, you might offer a unique class in bullfighting or "Lion Taming for Seniors." Keep in mind, those with artificial hips won't be able to get out of the way quite as fast.
If none of these ideas excites you, you might consider offering adventure lessons. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to learn how to sky-dive before their 100th birthday? For those clients on heart medication, you might offer some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to bungee jump or hang-glide across the Grand Canyon.
By now, I'm sure you get the idea. Anything that makes you feel truly alive -- right before you plummet to your death -- is exactly what you're looking for.
Of course, you can always forgo my advice and get back to the business at hand: finding the next Wal-Mart, Microsoft or Google. In the long run, your clients might prefer the latter. And as much as I like to say I want to go out with my guns blazing, the truth is, the noise would probably hurt my ears.