It’s a nice experience when you believe in something strongly and people you care about come to the same conclusion. The editor’s job is partly to respond to what readers want, but also to provide what readers need, even if they don’t know it yet.
That’s why it was reassuring when in a recent readers’ poll Olivia Mellan got very high marks when we asked how valuable our individual columnists and other authors were to you. My first assignment when I joined Investment Advisor as managing editor in January 1999 was to edit Olivia’s column. Thirteen years later, I still edit her columns and feature articles. You might notice that there is no Olivia Mellan column in this issue, but rest assured it’s only a one-month hiatus necessitated by vacation logistics.
Advisors have many jobs and many roles, but as I’ve said whenever I have the opportunity to address a group of advisors, you’re very interesting people with a unique range of interests. You exercise both sides of your brain. Most people are more likely to use the left side for logic and analysis, which comes in handy when you’re conducting due diligence, building a portfolio or analyzing a spreadsheet. But advisors also tend to be heavy right-brained practitioners, meaning that you’re good at understanding the needs of other people and responding to them—in a word, you’re empathetic.
In her writing, especially over the last few years in her longer feature stories for this magazine, Olivia has explored some fascinating topics that are also very practical.
How do you work with a couple, each of whom has very different ideas of what they want their retirement(s) to look like? What’s the proper role for an advisor to play when there’s significant dysfunction in a family? What do the findings of behavioral finance say not just about how you invest, but about how you explain risk and reward to your clients?
All these and more are squarely in Olivia’s wheelhouse, and with the help of her co-writer Sherry Christie, she delivers the suggested answers to these dilemmas in a calm, balanced way that is eminently practical.
Her two most recent columns, part of a planned series, are a case in point. She explores ways that advisors can extend their offerings to clients beyond the financial, partnering with other professionals to address clients’ and clients’ families’ issues.
The suggestions Olivia offers have one thing in common, I’d argue: that to succeed in life and overcome the challenges clients (and all of us) face by chance or our own acts, we need a community. That community includes family, but it also embraces other professionals and groups where you can find expertise, support or solace.
You are part of a network of support for your own clients’ finances. But if you are an advisor who seeks to provide holistic support to your clients, you’re often faced with addressing issues outside your own bailiwick. That’s why you need a network of support yourself, and I believe that Olivia Mellan’s writings and speeches are part of the network of news and analysis we supply to you. Olivia will be back next month, rest assured.