Listening Pays Off | SJS Investment Services

Listening Pays Off

March 10, 2018

Remember this famous line?


Remember the old EF Hutton commercial? There’s a planeload of people and two businessmen are talking across the aisle. One of them casually says, “Well my broker is EF Hutton…,” and at that moment, everyone inside and outside of earshot leans into the conversation. The famous line, of course, was: “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

Well, at SJS we have a saying, too. Ours is: “When our clients talk, we listen.” A little different than EF Hutton’s, but it has a power all its own. Our best client relationships form not when we do a lot of talking, but when we do a lot of listening.

You may be thinking, “But SJS is an investment advisory firm. Shouldn’t you be doing more advising?” Great question, but advising without understanding seldom drives positive outcomes. Decades of experience have led us to the belief that, “People will tolerate the conclusions of others but act on their own.” Operating based on that premise, it is our job to help you arrive at favorable conclusions, in good times and even in times of stress.

By listening to you, understanding your needs and concerns along with your feelings, we can arrive at conclusions with you, rather than lobbing general financial advice at you – advice that you may not want to take, and even if you do, you may not stick to. As we’ve said many times, long-term discipline in investing is fundamental to MarketPlus Investing®. But it is also not something we often find in the industry. Perhaps the reason is too much advising and too little listening.

Why don’t more advisors take the time to listen? Maybe it’s because many advisors believe that they aren’t doing their jobs, aren’t truly advising, unless they themselves are doing the talking. But in our experience we arrive at our best advising outcomes through listening. Recently, I had a client meeting that lasted a full hour and forty-five minutes. I talked for a maximum of five minutes during that time. The client is in the midst of a life transition and confused about his next steps. He left our office feeling a lot better than when he arrived because he reached conclusions that made sense to him, and I was able to affirm those conclusions through the industry knowledge and experience of our firm and its people.

Another reason why some advisors don’t listen more is because listening takes time. It takes energy, and it takes a level of caring that we believe isn’t common in this industry. I wish it was more common actually because then more people – even those who aren’t SJS clients – might feel more positively about their investment experiences.

But there’s another benefit that listening delivers, and I often call it the best part of my job. Listening to you allows me to learn about your life and your story. Over the last 20-plus years, I have been enlightened, inspired and emboldened by the courage and achievements of our seemingly ordinary clients. You are far from ordinary and listening has provided me a front-row seat to your stories. To me, that’s the most valuable benefit of all.

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