In American football, the quarterback is the organizer of the offense. The signal caller. The one who communicates with the coaches on the sideline about what play could work given what they have for skills and what the defense is doing, or trying to do, or might try to do.
The quarterback brings everything together.
Does the play always work? No. The defense has a way of confounding the play and sometimes the execution by the offense fails. Every play is called on the basis of balance of probability given the resources and the environment of the problem.
Just like your financial plan.
In football, you, the client, are in the owner’s suite. You have hired a general manager and coaches. They have hired players and built a system to achieve the overall goals. The players will execute once given instructions to do so. In a financial planning environment, the hierarchy is flatter. You have hired an accountant, a lawyer, an investment advisor, an insurance advisor and healthcare professionals. In many cases, they don’t even talk to each other.
When it comes time to execute, who do you tell? What input have you considered before deciding? How sure are you about the resources available, the situation and the defensive environment?
Every advisory team needs a quarterback. It could be the client but that tends not to work very well. The client tends to not know enough about the skills needed to execute the duties of any of the advisors. Clients tend not to know what those professionals need exactly. Communication becomes clumsy, incomplete and often leads to chaos.
The client should select a quarterback.
Notice one thing. Quarterbacks have a generalist side. They may be very good at one aspect of the game, but they know quite a lot about the other parts too. One dimensional advisors, albeit very skilled ones, tend to make weak quarterbacks.
Lawyers are sometimes good. It depends on how they see the world. If agreements matter more than what agreements do, then probably not.
Accountants are usually better. They have some training in law and finance and so know the importance of agreements and know the fundamentals of investing. Most are not strong on risk management but they learn quickly. Some can persuade and lead. The only ones that can be a problem are tax specialists. They sometimes miss the business forest for the tax trees.
Investment advisors could be good but they tend to be narrow. Accumulate more money being the focus. Financial resources matter but they are not always the priority. Few investment advisors will advise you to do things that do not add to the investment portfolio.
Insurance advisors can be strong but many get caught up in selling instead of being an assistant buyer. They do however understand the other professionals and deal with them regularly. They understand the concepts and techniques. Most can coordinate and persuade. They are always a good sounding board even if you don’t choose them for the quarterback role.
Medical professionals are important but generally too narrow.
Executing a financial plan will take years and face adversity along the way. Someone has to be the leader. The view from the owner’s suite is sometimes not the one that will get it done. Think about it.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. email@example.com 866-285-7772