In Native American culture there is a Great Law of the Iroquois Indians which states: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." In the world of green investing, this precept underlies what has come to be known as sustainability. Many of the product and service providers who work in green investing understand this concept and use it as a touchstone for their businesses.

Although most of us don't consciously think about a seven-generation impact of our day-to-day decisions, we've become familiar with the idea of the multitrillion dollar transfer of wealth that is beginning to move between the generations as the parents of boomers pass away. Your role as an advisor has been to help your clients sustain this wealth, provide for a secure retirement, and create personal legacies to endow their families and causes that are important to them.

What's new is that many investors are beginning to redefine wealth. Beyond the traditional definition of the ability to meet their present needs for the basic necessities of life, an increasing number of businesses, governments and citizens are demonstrating beliefs and behaviors that reflect a commitment to meet not just their economic needs but their social and environmental needs as well. They want to do this without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

So how can you begin to engage clients and prospects in a dialogue that will uncover their beliefs about sustainability? The answer lies in your own beliefs and behaviors and how you can more effectively communicate with clients in evoking their real needs and wants.

In his landmark book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey introduced a process of interpersonal effectiveness. His process encompassed specific principles that shape our character. These principles have the power to transform the way we behave. Covey maintains that our effectiveness lies in our ability to balance our performance with our capability to perform. As a financial advisor, this translates into what you do on a daily basis compared with your potential.

Covey's first three habits-Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First-demonstrate the principles of personal vision, leadership and management. These three habits contribute to what Covey refers to as "private victories." In your business, the private victories represent your ability to know yourself first, so you can be authentic and more effective in trying to better know and serve your clients.

Financial life planning is firmly rooted in Covey's seven habits and the precept of investing for the next seven generations. In order to be effective, you must be willing to take an inside-out approach to the planning process. This includes developing your personal vision as well as knowing how and being able to articulate why you do what you do. Defining your own destiny through personal life goals and financial planning fosters congruence and enhances your personal leadership skills. By prioritizing your actions, you're able to move confidently forward to your private victory.

When you experience this private victory, you may feel a sense of exhilaration that comes with living a purpose-filled, congruent life. This may feed your enthusiasm to want to have your clients experience the same thing. Before moving forward with your clients, observe your behaviors and assess your skills in light of Covey's next three habits-Think Win/Win, Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood, and Synergize. These habits demonstrate the principles of interpersonal leadership, empathic communication and creative cooperation.

Interpersonal leadership guides you to help your clients experience their own visions of lives well-lived. It's your responsibility to help them hold that vision throughout the planning process and over the life of your relationship with them. Empathic communication allows you to bond with your clients as their trusted advisor. You guide them in articulating their goals, fears and dreams. You help them develop a plan and strategy to turn those dreams into expected outcomes. Creative cooperation provides your clients with a foundation of security knowing that you will be there to help keep their dreams alive. You help them to prioritize their goals, implement a sound plan that's aligned with their dreams and offer encouragement during challenging times. By developing these habits, you will be better prepared to help them achieve the "public victories" associated with meeting their needs and wants.

After you help your clients achieve their public victories, you should employ Covey's seventh habit: Sharpen the Saw. Here you'll demonstrate the principle of balanced self-renewal. By effectively monitoring your clients' financial plans and taking actions to help them maintain alignment with their life goals, you will become better long-term partners.

First « 1 2 » Next