Scott C. Little, Vice President
I really do know my customers.
Last Thanksgiving, a client emailed me, asking to transfer funds to another account of hers—electronically. But we can’t do that by email. So, I let her know I’d need to call her. We verify some personal information, but she’s in some kind of train or subway station and it’s too loud. She says she’ll call me back. But something in her voice sounded “off” to me. So, when I hang up—I call her work number. And she’s there. It wasn’t her. I explain that someone has her information is trying to get into her accounts—walk her through who to call and what to do to protect herself, right now. And then, I wait to see if the other woman will call me back—as she said she would.
She does. And caller ID not only shows my client’s cell phone number—but somehow, she gives me all the information needed to make an electronic transfer—and more. Enough in fact, that someone at a large financial firm could have easily, and legitimately, transferred her money. My client would have been devastated. But, because I knew her well enough to recognize her voice, it didn’t work. I was so relieved that I stopped this from ruining her holiday season.
Trust me, I do this every day.
A client told me he had recently changed jobs and asked if I would roll over his 401(k)—into an existing Roth account. I asked if he knew whether his original 401(k) had been a traditional, or a Roth. Was he sure? He was a little gruff at my complicating something so simple. But I really encouraged him to call his 401(k) company and verify it, first. Because I suspected it was most likely a traditional 401(k)—which would have rather large tax ramifications for him that he wasn’t considering. Wouldn’t you know it? He called me—on my day off—he was obviously grateful that I had stopped him and asked the right questions. It had indeed been a traditional 401(k) and I had just saved him a costly mistake. I came into work and opened a traditional IRA for him right then. It was worth an afternoon of vacation time to garner that kind of appreciation.
That’s why it’s called customer care.
A family client of mine, led by an 82-year old widow and grandmother, gave me an opportunity to really reach out beyond just business. Over time, I grew to know the family and this lady rather well, and had come to appreciate our conversations. As her health had been failing, we’d naturally talked about her financial situation and plans, but I also just checked in regularly—just to catch up. Over time, she became housebound with limited mobility, under 24-hour nursing care.
One day, she mentioned that being cooped up all day wasn’t so bad, but she did miss playing her opera and classical music DVDs. Apparently her caregiver wasn’t a fan and she just couldn’t manage loading or pressing the buttons by herself, any longer. When I hung up the phone, I ordered ALEXA. Then I called her daughter, knowing that her husband (a computer guy) would be able to hook it up in his mother-law’s room. This would allow her to listen to whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted by voice command. She called me in tears to thank me. What could be better than that?
How dreams come true at Berkshire Money Management.
Two of our clients, a husband and wife on the West Coast, are successful entrepreneurs raising three beautiful children. Their oldest child is a freshman in high school and an elite athlete, travelling the United States and Canada playing hockey. During a portfolio review at their kitchen table, they told me that their son’s dream is to play Division I hockey in college. They asked me, “How do we do this?” and I told them to give me a week, but I think I can help.
I did some research and made some calls. One family that I spoke with recommended a firm that specializes in connecting student-athletes with the right colleges. I called them and they were precisely what my clients were looking for. This firm would identify colleges, email the coaches, create a professionally edited video, prepare the student for the SAT, and have a personal coach for the entire recruiting journey. I then went and discussed this with our owner, Allen Harris, and told him that it would cost $3,000. Allen said Berkshire Money Management would pay the entire bill. I cannot think of any investment firm that would go to these efforts for their clients.
Three days after meeting with my clients, I called them and told them that Berkshire Money Management was hiring this recruiting firm for their son. Talk about going the extra mile for my clients. I am helping this family with their most important asset, and helping their 14-year-old son pursue his dream.
Being an advisor is about more than finance.
A middle age senior citizen client recently purchased a new computer and with it came a new printer. The problem was that she couldn’t get it to work. She gave us a call and told us of her troubles. Her main challenge was connecting her computer to her printer. Word that she was having technical difficulties, reached my desk, so I gave her a call and offered to help. We scheduled a time to meet at her home to assess the problem.
As it turns out, she had purchased a wireless printer that required a great deal more than simply plugging wires into the right places. She was intimidated by the process and frankly, so was I. It was the first time I had ever installed a printer, but I pride myself on my ability to problem-solve so I rolled up my sleeves.
After about thirty minutes, the computer and printer were successfully connected. Installing printers isn’t in my job description, but helping our clients is. That’s what being a financial advisor is all about, helping people and taking a real interest in their lives. When I can, I always go the extra mile to help clients with more than just their finances.