Trust-based Selling in the Real World: Case Study #24

“Alex” (not his real name) is a friend and ex-client.

Alex leads a Private Client practice for a private wealth management firm in a country whose name I will not reveal, but which lies somewhere to the north of the United States.

We talked about his approach to managing his clients’ money. First thing he notes—it’s not just about managing their money.

“They need help from time to time in various aspects of their lives,” Alex says. “I get to know about these issues because they have financial impacts. Marriage, Children, College, Divorce, Insurance, Disease, I hear about them all. It is important to weave all aspects of the client’s life through their financial affairs, nothing personal happens in isolation.

“I cultivate a network of people I know, respect, and trust. Exceptional people who understand the power of relationships; people in real estate; divorce mediation specialists; psychologists; medical specialist; and educators who can help my clients. Whatever it is that they need—I make it my business to help them.

What do your colleagues think of this, I ask?

“They don’t get it. They say there’s no money in those things. I say that’s not the point… I’m in this profession to help people. But in the long term, they are dead wrong—in fact, there is money in this.

“For example, I spent an hour talking with the19-year-old daughter of a client about how to manage her $3,000. I took flak from colleagues for that too. But what they forget is how delighted her father was that his daughter was getting sound financial advice at age 19.

"And he has considerably more than $3,000… as will his daughter, sooner or later. My relationship is with their family.”

“What my colleagues forget is that this is a relationship business. Clients are referred by their parents, their children, friends, colleagues, accountants, lawyers etc. This only happens if you play for the long run.

“But it works; it works beautifully. Some people in my business focus on their transactional income, or look for ways to go seeking more clients through seminars or mailings. I focus on the relationships with my clients and appreciate when they invest in my business through referrals… my cost of marketing is nil.

“But perhaps most importantly, I spend my working days helping people, people I like. My practice is built on relationships where I enjoy working with the clients and they enjoy working with us. How much better can work get?”

6 replies
  1. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Wonderful post, Charles..please bear with me.

    A traveller is walking along a road in the hot noon-day sun.  He passes three laborers on the side of the road who are chopping up stones. The first worker looks frustrated, unhappy and distracted. The traveller asks him, “What are you doing?” The worker responds, “Cutting stones.”

    The second worker seems content, despite the oppressive heat and demanding work. “What are you doing?” the traveller asks him. “I’m cutting stones to make money to support my family,” he says.

    The third stonecutter appears truly engaged, connected to his work, happy. He appears intentional and purposeful, focused. His work seems meaningful. The traveller asks him, “What are you doing?” In a strong,  proud voice he replies, “I’m building a cathedral.”


    Alex seems to me, the third laborer. His colleagues fall into the 1st or 2nd category.

    Happiness, even happiness at work, for me, is  all about purpose and meaning. It’s about seeing relationships as a part of the equation.

    I would assume that perhaps Alex’s colleages come from a perspective of "Hey, this is a business…there’s no time for the ‘personal’."

    For me, true engagement, happiness and satisfaction with life at work is a function of the level of consciousness with which one approaches work. I see Alex as coming from a heart-felt place as much as a head place. Thus, his "take" on approaching work from this more wholistic place. Chopping stones or building Cathedrals–life, even life at work, is choices. Much of our happiness and satisfaction is a function of our choices.

  2. Steve LeVine
    Steve LeVine says:

    Thanks for the stories Charles and Peter. Yours might be dismissed as Pollyanish, home-spun wisdom, popular at holiday time. But I think that, particularly in this ever more cut-throat competitive world, they actually reflect a key to success. I’m reminded, too, of the story Stone Soup, in one of my elder daughter’s books, (

    Steve LeVine, author
    The Oil and the Glory (Random House)

  3. Brooks C. Sackett
    Brooks C. Sackett says:


    Dear Charlie,

    Alex reminds me both of Pascal’s point that, "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing" and Einstein’s that "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Ale&xrsquo;s colleagues should ponder both.

    Thank you, Charlie!

    His colleagues simply can’t see the power of the value he gives his clients through his selflessness and his genuine passion for his work. His eagerness to educate a 19 year old about investing, to make a meaningful referral to another trusted professional for a client in pain, and to focus on his clients’ overall happiness will always set him apart from his colleagues who measure their success only by this month’s paycheck. Wouldn’t we all dream of having a mechanic, physician, accountant, insurance agent, and business consultant like Alex?

  4. Thriveal
    Thriveal says:

    A really good post, Charles.  I have found the same thing to be true in my consulting practice…

    When you focus on relationships, people notice and you can make more money doing it.

    I have found some of the greatest referrals from some of the most unlikely people in the world (people I should not have given my time to, financially speaking).

    Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

  5. Tash
    Tash says:

    Great stories – Alex is certrainly a good peson and a good example for all in busienss; teh cathedral creator is a great yardstick – if you are just cutting stones, maybe it’s time to find a new business/job/whatever.

    I also use Alex’s approach in terms of networking. I collect as many business cards as is feasible and listen to people’s stories. When I find something that may be of use/value to that person, I send it to them. Many have never been clients, but they may end up as clients or refer me clients – and either way, I feel good for helping them.


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  1. […] Take “Alex” (not his real name). Alex leads a wealth management firm. While his business is based on helping clients manage their money, there’s actually so much more to what he does: […]

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