The best advisors combine rigorous technical aptitude with strong empathetic skills. They operate flexible practices that serve clients well today while following a plan to ensure viability in the future. They believe in their expertise, but they’re modest enough to shift gears when their original plans don’t exactly work out.
A shining example of this paradigm is E|Financial Alliance and its managing partner, Mitch Anderson, which operates three offices in the Nashville area. Anderson calls himself a “recovering corporate finance executive” who felt a calling a decade ago to provide financial planning to individuals.
But when he mentioned his career-changing plans to his business-owner mentor, the mentor suggested that the world really didn’t need any more “financial advisors.” Instead, he suggested Anderson become a CFP.
So he did, studying for the designation alongside a number of FAs from firms like Merrill Lynch and big Tennessee banks. As one of only two independents in his class, he came to realize what his calling should — and shouldn’t — be.
Beyond serving individual clients as a fee-only planner, he also decided to offer consulting on pension plans: his corporate experience and year-long tenure at another planning firm after gaining his CFP convinced him that too many 401(k) plans were too high on expenses and too low on education for employees. Building better 401(k) plans, he realized, could effect greater financial health among hundreds of plan participants.
Anderson and his partner Destin Tompkins combine their intellectual chops (Anderson is a CFP and MBA with a bachelor’s degree in engineering; Tompkins is a CFA and CPA with a master’s in accountancy) with a keen desire to better serve clients. Their approach is to gain a deeper understanding of clients’ goals and dreams through the use of enneagram personality profiling and by determining their preferred “love language,” as found in Dr. Gary Chapman’s writings.
You might think it odd for a sentence to combine the terms CFP, CFA, MBA, engineering and accounting with a concept like “love language,” but for Anderson and Tompkins it makes perfect sense.
More to the point, it makes perfect sense to clients, because determining how a client prefers to give and receive love allows E|Financial Alliance to show clients “we care about them in a very tangible way,” says Anderson. But true to their technical DNA, the partners aren’t just talking about ‘love,’ they’re building a database within their seven-year-old firm of their clients’ preferred love languages. They then communicate regularly with their clients following those preferences.