A man walks into the woods and stumbles across a sleeping bear…
Speaking at the 2014 Retirement Conference in Chicago, Michael Green, SVP with Ameriprise Financial, posed that scenario to the audience and finished the sentence for us by asking the obvious question—what does the man do?
Well, according to Green and any zoologist worth his salt, it depends. The ambiguity of that answer didn’t deter audience members from providing their own responses.
“Raise your arms and scream at the top of your lungs,” shouted a man who looked a bit like a bear himself.
“Curl up in a ball and play dead,” whispered a bookish woman sitting on the front row.
A comedian from the back of the room shouted, “Run faster than the slowest member of your group!”
All of those actions might save your life; and all of them might get you killed. When a reader posed that question on the National Park Service website, the NPS offered a cryptic response, at least one that failed to offer a certainty that us urbanites wandering in the wilderness would like to accept as dogma. “There is no easy answer,” the NPS wrote. “Like people, bears react differently to each situation.”
Smarter than your average bear
Consumers, according to Green, should be treated like bears. No, advisors shouldn’t shout or curl up or run away from clients, but they should realize that each client and each client meeting is unique and should be treated as such.