If you’re like me, one of the most important things in the world to me is trust and credibility. Whether it’s the guy I hire to do my kitchen floors or the people who I work with here at Trilogy, I am always looking for signs of trustworthiness. Once you find people who you can be loyal to and people who will be loyal to you, it can make all the difference.
Of course it goes without saying that this is all the more important when it comes to working with financial professionals like CPAs, attorneys and financial advisors. This month on the Trilogy blog and on my radio show, we are focusing on key things to look for when building a financial team and then how to help that team work together for your benefit. Years ago, it’s what we created this firm for… we called it the Trilogy Concept.
Many times I’m asked by my clients: what should I look for in an attorney or a CPA? How do I know I’m working with someone I can trust? There are many ways to answer this question. Many times, if the person is local to my home area of Orange County, California, I’ll have a great referral for them. Referrals have always been the heart of our business. But if I don’t, there’s a few things that I think are important when hiring a professional to be a part of your financial team.
- They Stay in Their Lane: Multi-Professional Planning for me has always been about focusing people on what they do best. I don’t try to give tax advice, I leave that to the CPA. The CPA doesn’t try to tell you if you need a trust or a will, they leave that to the estate attorney. I’m always suspect of professionals who try to wear too many hats. These areas of expertise are JUST TOO BIG for anyone to know them all and they often are only guessing when they are outside their area of expertise. Be wary of an attorney who wants to be a generalist – doing all of your business work, family law, estate planning… etc. These are big areas of expertise. You wan’t someone who’s great at what they do and leaves the rest for others. When we all stay in our lane, we can work well together.
- They Have Humility: This is related to #1, but somewhat different. Having humility to me is about knowing what you don’t know. It’s about admitting when you’ve made a mistake. It’s about not having anything to prove. One of the benefits of being in this business for almost 3 decades is that there’s not much I haven’t seen. And I know when I’m looking at a problem that’s outside my expertise. That’s why we partner with other professionals, that’s why I feature so many of them on my radio show. It’s so important to work with professionals who don’t over promise. When you are interviewing a new member of your financial team, be it CPA or attorney, be wary of the ones with big promises; they can sometimes be the ones who are the bigger disappointments.
- They Follow-Thru: I know it seems small, but to me, follow-thru is everything. If someone says they are going to email you a time to meet and they don’t, that’s a yellow flag. If someone cancels a meeting with short notice, another yellow flag. If they promise to do things and then delay or it seems they are always making excuses, these can be areas of concern. The excuses may be for small things, but if they add up over and over again, yellow flags become red flags. Tell your CPA, attorney or financial advisor in the initial interview that you have high expectations for follow-through. Give them deadlines for requested information. If they consistently miss those deadlines, or don’t do what they say… this could be a sign of future trouble.
While my three standards for professional credibility don’t cover every situation, they do give you a start. Keep your eyes here on the Trilogy blog this month for other tools you can use to help you find the right professionals for your financial team.