Picture an earlier version of yourself on the African savannah a hundred thousand years ago. Sitting in the shade of a baobab tree, you’re quietly fashioning a primitive tool from a piece of rock. Unfortunately you fail to notice an approaching predator, intent on having you as a mid-afternoon snack.
Luckily your cautious mate Robbo is perched on a nearby rock ledge surveying the scene. Not only does he warn you of said predator, he also suggests the best form of escape is to shimmy up said baobab tree.
Predators may be less of a threat now in suburban Australia, but communication is still central to the quality our lives. Particularly for our relationships – be they personal or with professional advisers.
So what are the secrets of successful relationships and what part does communication play?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
In our recent Lifetime Project, we asked 2,400 Australians to list the most important factors for enduring relationships. Communication consistently ranked near the top of the list. This made us wonder – if communication is so important to people, what are Australians talking about?
The first point to note is the Australians we identified as Happy and Successful were more comfortable talking about a broader range of topics. This was a relatively small group of people (only 6%) who told us they were happy with life, not troubled by negative feelings, have some success with their plans and have their money working for them.
But when you dig a little deeper, the results paint an intriguing picture. Look at the left of the graph and you’ll see the topics people are least comfortable talking about – Fears, Money, Hopes and Dreams and Feelings. Then look at the right of the graph – the results show that people are most comfortable talking about their Lifestyle choices. Where they are planning to live, the destination for their next holiday, that sort of thing.
Now imagine you have just walked into a meeting with your financial adviser. Achieving the lifestyle choices (the ones you are happy to talk about) will depend on an open discussion about the very topics you may be least willing to discuss – your fears, money, feelings and dreams for the future.
The best financial advisers listen first
Good advisers will want to talk to you about these sorts of issues when you meet. Not only to understand the lifestyle you want to live, but also to talk through any financial concerns you may have. All of this information will be required to build a complete picture of your unique circumstances. It will help to create a financial strategy that balances the income you will need with the level of risk you are willing to take.
So it’s important to be as open as possible during your conversations with your financial adviser. The more information you share, the more relevant your financial advice will be.
Are you a listener or a talker?
‘We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Back to the baobab tree for a moment – when Robbo called out the warning, would you have been happy to listen or keen to talk it through in more detail? Talkers may have had a higher mortality rate – not that we’re taking sides.
Most people are likely to favour being a listener or a talker. It’s an important distinction when it comes to financial advice and something we explored in our research.
Why? Because listeners and talkers value different types of communication from their financial advisers. On balance, listeners were happiest with advisers who provided educational information, while talkers favoured conversations where opinions were shared and plans discussed. These are the sorts of insights we regularly share with Perpetual advisers because it is important to appreciate the subtle differences that make every client unique.
We thought we’d shared them with you too - particular if you’re a listener. Because it is really important to talk openly in your meetings with advisers, even if it doesn’t come naturally.
From the serenity of the savannah to complexity of superannuation
The serenity of the African savannah has been replaced with the complexity of the superannuation landscape, volatility of share markets and property market storm clouds. The threats have changed, but the importance of conversation hasn’t.
The right financial advice, communicated effectively at the right time in your life, is as vital to your future now as the warning from Robbo would have been all those years ago.
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