May 6, 2020

Just What Does Success REALLY Look Like?

By Matt Stahl

That sounds like a very cliche article title pulled off of the internet. If you were to type this into a search engine, you would, no doubt, receive in return several results. One article may talk about driving a clean, well kept vehicle. Another may talk about choice in wardrobe and appearing ‘put together’. The next article may talk about travel to impressive places in the world and sampling the best cuisine. In my humble opinion, there would likely be little depth and a lot of ‘surface’ substance in the article selection.

One thing I talk about often when we host workshops for our Inner Circle and the general public alike - is the abundance of knowledge that exists right at our fingertips, accessible at any time, almost anywhere. However, what our modern world is lacking is wisdom. The pace of the modern world affords us so much quantity that quality can be watered down. We lack the sheer numbers of repetition and intentional practice to fully master many skills - be that gardening, cooking, writing, music, sports, our creative work, the list can go on.

That brings me back to that opening question and boiling down just what success does really look like - and I would argue success goes far beyond appearances and the visual aspect. I believe that the question should really be - what does success feel like? ....we all know when we are in the presence of that feeling of success.

To give a very concrete example: I recently had a referral from a long time client of our firm reach out to connect with us. My curiosity generally gets the best of me - which happens to actually help in our line of work. That curiosity allows us to really get to know our clients:

  1. What really are their core values?
  2. What is their real story that got them here (mistakes, victories and all)?
  3. What really makes them tick?
  4. What does their relationship with money really mean to them? (hint: money is not usually the most important thing in our clients’ lives - but most things that people really want involve making money decisions)

So, I asked: “What made you want to reach out to Fiat Wealth Management?”

Her response was simple: “Well, I decided it was time to work with a professional to help guide me into retirement and I made a list of all of the friends that seemed to be the most financially successful. Mr. X and Mrs. X (not real names, obviously) were at the top of the list.”

Now, knowing the clients that made the referral - they are by no means showy or boastful. If you have figured out this is you - please know I mean that as a huge compliment! I have personally worked with this couple for well over a decade and absolutely love them as people. They live in a nice, but simple home and don’t have overly expensive hobbies. There just isn’t much that would give an ‘outward visual experience’ of being wildly financially successful - at least not in the way that many untrained minds would assume that financial success.

Because I knew this, I decided to play the ‘five why’s’ question game (courtesy of Sakichi Toyoda). I dug deeper. This wasn’t to be a pest, but to help put to words what our prospective client was feeling when spending time with their friends (our clients).

After asking why several times, we got to the bottom of it:

“They appear financially successful because they are living THEIR dream life and don’t have a concern about money (no matter if we are dealing with a pandemic, or any flavor of financial crisis)”.

That was the answer I was looking for, and also how I knew we could help this prospective client.

I have recently taken on more of a leadership role within Fiat Wealth Management and often ask members of the team what it is we do as a firm. Often, the response will be technical (and correct) - investment management, tax planning, estate planning, retirement distribution planning, etc.

I do my best to take the opportunity to remind our team what we truly do:

We take the anxiety away from our clients’ financial lives so they can go on living their lives. We allow them to wake up Monday morning with zero anxiety about the next headline they will see. They don’t need to wonder whether they will have a paycheck (if retired) or if we are consistently creating a future paycheck (if still working). Because we asked the correct questions AND listened - we know the plan is in place that will do exactly that.

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Every Day is Saturday

Our job begins where most advisors stop—saving money is great, but how do you spend it without risk in retirement? Welcome to Every Day is Saturday with Brad Gotto and Matt Stahl, partners and private wealth managers at Fiat Wealth Management.

In this podcast we help guide you to think about your money in a practical sense and make the boring and complex financial decisions, fun, informative and educational. Join us on this journey where Brad and Matt will explore different strategies on how to spend your money without guilt and have peace of mind knowing you are spending it the optimal way in retirement.

You’ve saved money for a lifetime. Now it’s time to spend it.

In Spending Money and Having Fun, Retirement Income Certified Professional Brad Gotto teaches you how to be smart about spending so you can stop worrying and live the life you want. Old habits are hard to break, but Brad helps you embrace the counterintuitive and build new habits to support your next chapter. You’ll learn how to:

  • Change your mindset around spending

  • Create boundaries that buy you freedom

  • Gain peace of mind with concepts that take the guesswork out of your financial requirements