I'm Weird. But in a Good Way

Todd Washburn |

Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, Unleashing the IdeaVirus, and Tribes, wrote another book called We Are All Weird.  Someone was talking to me about the book the other day and commented, off-handedly, “You’re weird, too—but in a good way”.  I asked him what he meant and he said that I did things differently than other advisors—and it was good.

I guess I am a little different (not sure I’m going for weird yet).  I have been since I opened my practice.  And for the most part I think it works.  I’ve been offering “Life Planning” financial planning since Day 1.  Around Day 180 another advisor pointed out to me that the other folks around the country doing Life Planning didn’t start their practices doing it—they “converted” their existing clients to it.  I guess I do my “conversions” up-front.

Anyone who’s been around me for even a little while knows my favorite color.  It’s hard to miss.  Orange.  I wear a lot of it.  It’s the main color of my logo.  Heck- my office walls are orange (a tasteful shade- my decorator threatened to quit if I didn’t agree to tone it down).

I don’t wear suits and ties.  Been there, done that.  Sure, I’m certain someone at some time hasn’t hired me because of that, but we probably would have found other areas we didn’t agree on either.   Suits and ties have their place. I certainly own enough of them.  I just like my clients to have a relaxing experience—like we’re chatting around the coffee table—and rarely do we sit around our house in a suit and tie. 

I’m a recovered—or maybe a recovering—scientist.  Fifteen years in labs.  In my line of work you see a lot of engineers, accountants, etc.: people who like numbers. But not too many research scientists.  But it’s useful for me.  The analytical skills really help in figuring out strategies for my clients.  That’s what science does. It figures out strategies to unlock mysteries.  The good thing now though is that I get to work with people rather than test tubes.

I’m not constantly aiming for a Rewards Trip.  A Rewards Trip is what a company uses to encourage their salespeople to sell enough of some product.  I can’t do that.  I chose to open a fee-only practice to avoid that conflict.  I have to pay for all my own trips. But it helps with being a Fiduciary: putting my clients’ interests ahead of my own. Fee-only planners have to do that.

I like financial planning to be holistic planning.  Lots of folks say they do planning, but it’s really only a means to sell a product or what they really do is investment work (but “financial planning” resonates better with prospects).  I help clients with investments, but within a holistic planning relationship.  I don’t charge based on assets in an investment account as do most folks.  I charge based on my client’s net worth—the thing that really determines wealth—and what we should be working to maintain or increase.  That can be by paying down debt, spending less, earning more, or getting better investment returns.  I like to think we’re on the same side of the table with goals aligned.

However, you can only be so weird.  There are areas where I am as normal as can be (wife’s opinion excluded).  I am a well-trained professional. I’ve had my Certified Financial Planner ™ (CFP®) designation since 2001.  I believe that helping my clients succeed is the key to me succeeding. I have a great family: wife, son and dog; good friends and family.  I’m even an Eagle Scout.  Oh, and I root for Syracuse (Go Orange!)—which I consider completely normal.

If you or someone you know is a little “weird” in that you’re someone who expects good service, competent and objective advice, expects to be treated well and with respect, and is looking for financial help, I encourage you to call 919.403.6633 or tell them about this “weird” financial planner you know.