Jan and Hollis talk about the results of their core values assessment. If you’d like to explore the assessment for yourself, or your clients, contact us to get your free guide.
How Valuable are Personal Values – Part 2
Hollis Walker: This is #NowMe, a podcast for financial advisors and their clients. Hello. This is Hollis Walker with Jan Blakeley Holman, director of advisor education at Thornburg Investment Management. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us for another episode of #NowMe. So Jan, I’ve done the values exercise, have you?
Jan Blakeley Holman: As a matter of fact I have Holly. And actually, I’ve probably gone through this exercise five times in my life, and I always go through it when something is causing me to want to step back and think about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It’s always enlightening, and whenever I do it I learn something more about where I am in my life and who I am and what I value.
Hollis Walker: Excellent. So what did you find enlightening this time?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well, as I said, it always makes me think about what’s going in my life and having to whittle down things that are important to me from 15 to 1 is kind of difficult. It gets particularly difficult when I get to the top three and I have to go down to one. But there’s always something that tips the scale to the first and most important value.
Hollis Walker: So we should probably explain to our listeners that this, this exercise starts with a very long, page long list of all kinds of values, and you choose 15 and then you narrow that down and you narrow it down again until you finally come to that top value. So, drum roll, please. Jan, what was your top value?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well, family came out as my No. 1 value. In my case the ages of my family members run the gamut from 5 months to 96 years. I have three adult children, their significant others, 5-year-old grandson, a 3-year-old granddaughter and a 5-month-old granddaughter, my significant other, my friends who I consider my family and my 96-year-old mother. I can’t escape the fact that these people and having them in my life is the most important thing to me in the world. What became obvious to me was that supporting my top value of family were also other values that were on my list, like responsibility, love and concern for others, none of which, by the way, came out in my list in my top three. I guess my point is that these values are interrelated. So Hollis, what about you? What was your top value?
Hollis Walker: Well it sounds really cheesy, but my top value was love. I got to those last three and they were integrity, love and faith and they seemed so intertwined that love seemed to sort of encompass all three of them.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Isn’t that interesting? We both had the same experience noticing how there are supporting values to the most significant value.
Hollis Walker: Exactly. And this, actually this exercise is so much fun to look into your own life and, and things you think maybe matter to you a whole lot sort of fade away as you look down the list of ideas and you think oh wow I never thought of that, you know, security is really important to me, or whatever. So Jan, I have some questions about values as they relate to our investment decisions. How do our values influence how we pick our financial advisors? Do we want to work with someone who shares our values or is it enough that they understand our values?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well, that’s an interesting question. First of all, whether or not values effect how an individual chooses a financial advisor varies from person to person. For example, I have a friend, a very close friend, who refuses to do business with anyone who voices political views that differ from hers, and if that person broadcasts those views on Facebook or in any other way she won’t do business with them. An example, too, of another business that she stopped working with. She is pretty regimented in terms of doing the same thing over and over, and for probably 25 years she’s eaten at the same health food restaurant in Minneapolis, the same lunch every day for 25 years, and she actually just stopped eating there or ordering food from there because she saw the owners on TV and they were wearing masks, but when she goes into the restaurant, they don’t have masks on, so they were being somewhat hypocritical. I think both of those examples are people making decisions based on values. That’s important to her. At the same time, another person who has the same beliefs might not expect other people to share his or her beliefs so they may not make cut and dry decisions that way. When it comes to choosing financial advisors, the same answer applies and it depends. It depends upon the person, and it depends upon whether or not the individual choosing the financial advisor believes it’s important that the financial advisor’s values align to their own values.
Hollis Walker: Well I wanna say that with my financial advisor, I do know that she shares my basic values and there’s an assumption between us, I think, of those shared values as we make decisions on my behalf, and that makes me more comfortable with her. Should we initiate conversations with our financial advisors about our values? I mean, it kinda sounds like you’re gonna go talk to your rabbi or your minister or your doctor, but I don’t know, what do you think?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Actually, I believe that although values inform and dictate our decisions, many of us wouldn’t be able to articulate them if we were asked. Or we’d have to think a while about what our values were. The best case scenario is that a client or a prospective client goes to a financial advisor and the advisor brings up the topic of values and talks to the client about whether or not they’re clear on what’s important to them and what drives their decisions. For clients who are the ones who bring up the subject of values this values exercise is important, and it’s important for them to think about whether or not the things that they are looking forward to in the future are aligned with their values and it’s important for, I believe, their financial advisor to understand why they have the goals that they have. Because values-driven goals, I think, have with them more passion on the part of the client.
Hollis Walker: Can our values be applied to how we invest our money? For example, if security is an important value for someone, does that mean that investing more conservatively is what an advisor should recommend because valuing security might mean that a client is more risk averse than the average person.
Jan Blakeley Holman: You know, those words security and risk averse are interesting because to some individuals, and some of those individuals being financial advisors, it may suggest that the investor should invest in CDs or bonds or what we would call safe or stable investments. But in reality, if an individual truly wants financial security they probably need to invest in securities that will serve as a hedge against inflation, like equities, and that wouldn’t come to mind automatically when people are talking about conservative investor, security minded, risk averse, but the truth is that no one can be financially secure unless they have some investments that appreciate in value over time and they appreciate at a rate that’s in excess of the rate of inflation.
Hollis Walker: Thank you Jan. I just want to add that this values exercise is not just fun but could be something that people might want to do once a year, maybe in January, as a way to assess where they are in life. What you said about it, Jan, about how it’s affected you, really touched me. I think it’s a valuable tool. If you are interested in getting a copy of the values exercise we were discussing, go to Thornburg.com/personalcorevalues. That’s all the time we have today. You’ve been listening to #NowMe with me, your host Hollis Walker and Jan Blakeley Holman, director of advisor education at Thornburg Investment Management. If you want to suggest a topic for us, email us at NowMe@thornburg.com. If you’d like to hear more episodes of #NowMe, you can find us on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite audio provider or by visiting us at Thornburg.com/podcasts. Jan can also be found on LinkedIn. If you like us, subscribe, share us on social media and leave us a review. Until next time, thanks for listening.
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