It is the age of specialization and generalists are becoming more valuable. That is not paradoxical. Here’s why.
Specialists know a great deal about narrow subjects. Possibly several. They are technical and are almost always not directly accessible by individuals. There is an intermediary, being the generalist. The generalist seeks out and makes arrangements with specialists. They take material from the specialist and deliver it, together with explanations and everyday language, back to the client.
Generalists are primarily communicators. Outward to specialists and inward to clients.
Generalists are specialists in a way. They specialize in problem and opportunity identification. They specialize in connecting to people who know answers. They connect people to their network. Careful study of the client situation followed by communication to a specialist and back to the client.
They are like a quarterback in football. Communicate, give the ball to a specialist, see what the outcome is and then communicate again.
There are innumerable specialists out there. Lawyers, accountants, doctors, insurance agents, engineers, investment managers and more. Financial planners/advisors can help a client connect to appropriate knowledge and can help the client to understand the arcane response. This connective ability is a key component of financial advising and is usually little valued. It may be the best value.
Some specialists are extremely narrow in their work. Some tax specialists deal with only a few sections in the tax act. A client might use them once in a lifetime.
One specialist that I communicate with on a regular basis is Toronto based Dennis Serre of Serre Financial. He recently sent me two PowerPoint presentations. One deals with how they work with a client’s advisors and other professionals to implement some effective wealth building tools. Most of these are complex and detaily. It is nice to have a pro to work them out. I, for one, abhor details.
Dennis sees his business to be the bridge that connects the client’s business to the personal situation and how the solutions interface with all of his advisors. His mandate is pictured as this.
As an advisor, you may be able to use his services. Email him, firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask for the two presentations he sent me. The second one was presented at a Pinnacle Conference and includes some examples.
Golfers need to be good at all aspects of the game. For advisors the rules are different. You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. Build support.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.