When Failure Comes Unexpectedly to a Man

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In the final analysis, Dan's confidence borne of providing good financial advice for 17 years proved meaningless. Marcie's email absolutely stunned him:

Dan, thank you for the 17 years of service you provided to Phil and me. However, now that my circumstances have changed, I have decided to work with another financial advisor. Please expect to receive the transfer paperwork shortly.

It hit Dan hard.

He thought to himself, "I never realized there was a problem with the relationship." His judgment of the circumstances, of course, remained flawed. In fact, his services weren't terminated because of a problem with the relationship. Rather, he was jettisoned because, insofar as Marcie was concerned – and that is all that mattered – there was no relationship.

Dan's misplaced assumption that his advisory role would continue after Phil's passing holds several important lessons for male advisors:

  1. Dan's dollar-centric framework for evaluating his performance was misaligned with Marcie's values and financial priorities.
  1. From Dan's perspective, he did his job well. For most of the past 17 years, Phil and Marcie's portfolio value grew. More recently, it had sustained losses, but so did everything else. Dan's view was that a $316,000 decline in a $2,450,000 portfolio was reasonable considering overall market performance.
  1. In their annual meetings, Dan's attention was focused on Phil. Dan perceived Phil as more knowledgeable about money than Marcie. Phil liked reviewing the statements, charts, and graphs that he was shown. Dan perceived Marcie's staying in the background, her silence and nodding, as agreement.
  1. Dan appreciated Phil's interest in stock picking. They loved to discuss various companies. Most often, Dan would agree with Phil's suggestions to buy or sell certain stocks. Dan felt that Phill completely understood the risks involved.