May 31, 2013

Word to the Wise Advisor: Play More Golf

Maryland advisor says the leisure sport has fueled both creative financial problem solving and generated business

Nine holes on the golf course could go farther to solving your client’s financial problems than a workaholic frenzy of data crunching, according to financial advisor Bruce Wiener, who spoke with AdvisorOne on Friday after a morning round on the putting green.

It’s not that Bruce Wiener of Wiener Financial Management, based in Potomac, Md., doesn’t work hard poring over the numbers to help clients solve their financial problems.

It’s just that one’s imagination and creative thinking are limited by focus—by examining the trees rather than seeing the forest, Wiener says in a provocatively titled video blog, “Why Your Financial Advisor Should Play More Golf.”

In that sense, playing golf “is the equivalent of being in the shower and having a moment of clarity,” he said in a phone interview. “It helps your mind freely associate. The other component is that to solve a problem you have to let it go and let it percolate.”

Bruce WienerWiener (left) himself plays nine holes of golf one or two times in a work week, reserving 18 holes for Sundays. But he says it doesn’t matter which activity an advisor chooses—it could be going for a jog—so long as the advisor can clear his mind and come back with a fresh perspective.

“That’s why people hire an advisor,” Wiener says. “They’re often caught up in a problem. They just can’t step back from [their] own life; [they] just can’t get perspective.”

In the video, Wiener says a client may be so wrapped up in Problem X and regretful that its only solutions are A, B and C that he doesn’t realize that the problem is actually Y.

That’s the advisor’s role, he says, and it is enhanced not only by the hard work of crunching numbers but by the sense of creativity that recreational activities impart.

Wiener adds that golf’s benefits extend beyond the rejuvenation that fosters creative thinking. The leisure sport’s reputation as a business builder has been borne out by his experience as well.

When Wiener learned that a prospect just too busy to find even a half-hour to talk plays golf, he invited him to the green.

“He didn’t have half an hour, but he had five hours to play golf,” he says of the prospect, now a client.

But there’s an etiquette to business golf.

“You never talk about business,” Wiener advises. “It’s just spending time and getting to know someone in a relaxed atmosphere.”

Wiener adds that provocatively titled client communications about the advisor playing golf is no deterrent to business either.

His clients and prospects appreciate his posts, in contrast to other advisors’ canned newsletters, which he describes as densely written and overly long.

“I try to write with a lighter touch—in my own words, my own voice,” Wiener says.

Wiener sends his commentaries via email, then posts them on his blog, then notifies his LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook followers of the new post. Of all these outreach methods, he says email is by far the most effective.

“I see people, who say ‘Hey, I really liked that.’ Or I get emailed responses. It’s a way of staying in touch with people and providing something of value,” he says, adding that he believes but cannot be sure that some of the referrals he has gotten have come as a result.

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