Deep or Wide?

This week I had the pleasure of emceeing the Spring Education Symposium of the Financial Planning Association of East Tennessee.

We heard from Jesse Hedrick who discussed navigating deceptive financial aid letters, Tom Humphries who shared details on veterans benefits, Kim Spencer who provided an overview on divorce planning, and Janie Smith who reviewed Social Security strategies.

All morning I was astounded at the deep knowledge of each speaker.

For example, you may know that your Social Security benefits increase 8% for every 12 months you delay taking benefits beyond your full retirement age.

But do you know what percent they will increase if you delay for 27 months? (It’s 18%)

Furthermore, do you long how you can delay? (Until you’re 70).

Naturally, our speaker knew this information off the top of her head.

People want to work with an expert. Let’s face it – do you want your surgeon to pretty good or the best?

But you can’t possibly be an expert at everything (except maybe Ken Jennings).

So what can you do? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Pick one or two areas where you can do go deep. Become the expert in something valuable to your clients such as retirement income planning or the ins and outs of ABLE accounts.
  2. Identify the areas you want to know “just enough.” For example, you might decide you won’t learn the top holdings of every fund in your client portfolios but you do want to be able to explain two reasons why each fund is a good choice for your client.
  3. Know who to turn to. Find two or three experts that you can consistently rely on. For example, you probably don’t need to listen to 12 opinions on inflation. Just pick a couple.

You can’t know it all and your clients know that.

Ultimately, they just want you to know what’s most important: them!

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