Two valuable pieces of wisdom I’ve gleaned from clients

As I reflect on another busy tax season, I’m recalling some of the stories my clients have told me. Each and every client brings a life story to the table, and I enjoy the tales. I enjoy hearing about their families, successes, and achievements for the year. I am sympathetic to their challenges, but I also learn from them.

Be careful

I am reminded of two lessons in particular that I’m glad to share. The first is to be truly careful. We are in a different technological age. I have written previously about identity theft, but you also need to be wary of the increasing number of scammers.

People are embarrassed about being caught up in scams, but more importantly, they are telling their tales so that others do not suffer the same loss. When people call you on the phone, be sure that you can verify their identity, and don’t enter into transactions without being cautious. Know who you’re talking to. Don’t send money to unknown sources. If you are told not to contact authorities, understand the only person you are protecting is the thief.

Be informed

Another client told me about the system he keeps for his spouse in case something happens to him. It’s critical to have a trail of paperwork for one’s partner to follow in case of an emergency. If the primary recordkeeping partner is incapacitated, who knows where and what the assets are, where the medical power of attorney is kept for health care, what accounts have money in them, and what the passwords/phone numbers/life insurance policies are?

Each year, this client puts the most recent year-end statement from the bank, brokerage firm, life insurance company, and other important information in a three-ring binder.

He inserts tabs that indicate the current password, account numbers, relevant names of bankers, attorneys, accountants, and brokers. Because his spouse will be under stress and not likely know all this information in the event that something happens to him, keeping such information in a safe place — and keeping everything current — is a great way to help her.

Every year, I hear some great ideas and love that they come from clients. Sharing information while providing a service helps make my career enjoyable. When your clients talk, be sure to listen. What have you learned from your clients?

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