Building Your Team Through
Trust and Affiliations

By Larry Thaul, CLU, ChFC, CLTC

It has been some time since my last column while a synthesis of ideas came together. As a provider of a variety of financial products, services and advice, my personal approach to the age of the A.A.R.P.-eligible has set off new bells. Directly identifying (chronologically only, of course) with the �maturity process� (once referred to as �aging�) heightens my awareness of the stark contrast of (1) what the modern real time world demands of us and (2) what we absolutely need to do to achieve a lasting sense of financial well-being and awareness. Fast-paced need not go hand in hand with half-baked. We each need to put together a team of specialists one by one who care about us and show it by taking the time to educate us.

Many find the internet (�instant-net when working well) an accessible treasure chest of current data for products and services, many of which are interchangeable (e.g. airline flights, software, fungible products and identifiable physical items for sale). So much information at your fingertips! However, these items� fungible, commodity nature (point, click and own) stand in stark contrast to the elements we need in our advisors to begin to understand us as individuals. This is no less important than planning for our personal future financial security. We need trust and caring, patience while we learn, and demonstrated follow through and review. In short, we need to build relationships over time with specialists. There are few, if any, who can master the many subtleties of all the subspecialties involved in assembling their own financial plan.

My previous writings in this publication have focused on the area of Long Term Care Insurance and what the consumer needs to know about government programs and benefits and what ones needs to look for in policies of this type. My experience with clients, in teaching many adult education courses in the area, and in working closely with sophisticated corporate clients underscores the following:
1. People need people to guide them;
2. A world of subspecialties requires us to take several steps one at a time to get to the proper expert we can work with;
3. Step #1 is trusting an expert and requesting their affiliations with other experts.

Ideally, a professional dedicated to you will refer you to another expert, as needed. Your good faith in Expert #1 transfers to recommended Expert #2. Hopefully, a similar caring attitude shown by interest and a commitment over time will be evident in Expert #2. Sometimes personalities don�t match and you�ll need to move on. This is a process which has its rewards in assembling a team of selected experts. Your vigilance in requesting other experts is in your hands. Be a good consumer and keep your surrounding circle of advisors growing all the time.

A worthwhile relationship extends over a period. It is not limited to a single transaction or outcome. Your experts need to act proactively for your benefit and not simply in response to your requests. As a provider of financial services, I can assure you that the client who demands the service and referrals to other experts gets them or I lose them. The expert must think about the client all the time. That is what makes them professional.

The professions encourage interdisciplinary referrals. For example, the well intentioned tax preparer-only will find their services - however accurate and dependable- non-competitive with a similar practitioner with links to other specialists, e.g. specialty attorneys, retirement, financial, and investment experts, fee-only planners, insurance professionals, etc. Advice: Ask an advisor you can trust and work with for his/her affiliations in the allied areas. For instance, someone investigating funding long-term care services (e.g. home health care and assisted living or nursing home care) should seek an insurance specialist by the strength of the specialist�s affiliations with a practice group of elder lawyers, home care agencies, retirement planners, tax experts, etc.

Make your single choice of professional go a long way to achieving your financial well-being and peace of mind. Put another way, use trust as a sword through the jungle of would-be advisors who seek only a transaction. Look for specialists affiliated with your experts. You�ll find trust your trustiest friend in growing your personal team of experts.

Our world can be impersonal, lonely and, at times, overwhelming. However, you can take steps to make it trust-based and personal. Take the first step by seeing what other specialists your current advisors affiliate with. You are worth it. Take a small step today toward your own freedom from worry. It is in your hands.