Taking Your Finances From Good to Great: Part Two

It’s right about now when many of us make goals for the New Year.  We dream of where we’d like to go in the various areas of life – health, relationships, finances – and then we start creating a plan.

In “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins says that’s the exact wrong path to greatness.  The book is a fascinating look at companies that tore away from their pack of competitors to achieve outstanding sustained success.  In every case, Collins found that good-to-great company leaders chose who would be on their team before choosing which goals to pursue.

“They first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”

Last week, we looked at a “Good to Great” concept called Level 5 Leadership and how it applies to our personal finances.  This week, we’re looking at the financial implications of a concept Collins calls First Who…Then What.

Smart Money Management is a Team Sport

Collins found that all good-to-great companies had deep and strong executive teams.  By contrast, many of the comparison companies followed a “genius with a thousand helpers” model, with Mr. or Miss Whiz Bang at the top surrounded by an army of soldiers dutifully carrying out their leader’s brilliant ideas.

Think about your financial success team members.  Are they merely doing as told, or are they trusted advisors who feel the freedom to challenge you and bring you new ideas to consider?

Are Your Financial Success Team Members Great at What They Do?

When choosing who gets a seat on your financial success team bus, it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends who are happy with their various financial service providers.  Also, ask how long the advisor has been in business and what industry credentials they’ve earned.

If you’re looking for investment help, an advisor who has earned the Certified Financial Planner designation, for example, has gone through lots of tough training, has passed a brutal test, and has actually worked in the field for a number of years.

Often, however, you may not know for sure whether you have the right people on the bus until the ride gets rough.

Last summer, our neighborhood got hit with an unusual flood.  The sewers were overwhelmed and water backed up into many people’s basements, ours included.

Since our property/casualty insurance agent lives in our town, I know he was getting tons of phone calls.  Plus, his office was without power for several days after the storm.  Still, he returned my call very quickly and calmly walked me through the steps for making use of the sewer and drain backup insurance coverage we have.  We’re keeping him on the bus.

Some of our neighbors had a very different experience, with their agent giving them incorrect guidance that only added to their difficulties.  It’s probably time to get that person off the bus.

Do Your Financial Success Team Members Have the Right Values?

One of Collins’ more noteworthy findings was the emphasis good-to-great companies placed on the character traits of the people they hired.  They didn’t just have the right skills; they had the right stuff.

What do you know about your advisors’ values and character?  We work with an accountant who certainly knows his numbers, but he also shares our Christian faith.  We get great financial counsel from him, and our conversations often incorporate the many ways that our faith guides our finances.

If you’re looking for a knowledgeable financial advisor who is also trained in biblical financial principles, you can find one through Kingdom Advisors.  On that site you’ll find financial planners, accountants, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, and more.

Do Your Financial Advisors Work as a Team?

In business, a company’s leadership team is just that – a team. Members of the team meet together and make decisions together.  All too often, when it comes to our personal finances, each member of our team works independently.  They’ve probably never even met each other.

My friend, Brad, has his team working differently.  Once a year, he and his wife hold a joint meeting with their CPA, attorney, and financial planner.  They have what Brad calls their “Dixie Fraley Talk,” named for the widow of sports agent Robert Fraley, who died in the same plane crash that took the life of professional golfer Payne Stewart.

For many years prior to Robert’s death, the Fraley’s had annual joint meetings with their various financial advisors.  Those meetings led to a well-coordinated financial plan and left Dixie Fraley well prepared to handle her finances after her husband’s sudden death.

What About You?

How have you chosen who’s on your household’s financial success team bus?  If you’re married, is your spouse on the bus or are you making all the financial decisions yourself?  Do you sense the need to make any changes to your team before setting financial goals for the New Year?  Please add a comment below.

In an upcoming post I’ll talk about how to know what types of advisors to put on your bus.  Does everyone need an accountant?  A financial planner?  Look for some guidance on how to answer those questions next time.

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One Response to Taking Your Finances From Good to Great: Part Two

  1. Derrik Hubbard, CFP December 24, 2010 at 5:09 PM #


    Thanks for the reminder to people to consider the world view of their advisor, especially in the area of money! That is where we live out our value system and priorities.

    I wrote about that today in “Why You Are Not Looking for a Christian Financial Advisor”


    Thanks for the content!

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