Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Trust Starts Here

Trust Starts Here

I recently met with a group of investors who had one nagging thing in common: they no longer trusted anyone to help them invest their money. Their former trusted advisors, in their minds, were not objective enough, didn’t deliver satisfactory service nor understood how to meet their expectations. Their complaints sounded something like “I don’t trust anyone these days”; “I’m not crazy about the guy I’m working with but I don’t think I’m going to find anyone different—they all have their own biases and act on them”; “I’m keeping my money in cash and at least I’m sleeping at night. Of course, it is a hassle having multiple bank accounts to manage”.

This scenario is quite common as I’ve heard on the news and read in surveys. Bottom line is that we don’t trust our institutions whom we’ve entrusted with our financial well-being—our government, our banks, our money managers and our employers.

We’d all agree it’s not healthy to be fearful of our security and well-being, but that’s where the agreement and clarity ends. When we have to figure out how to change the situation, we tend to ignore any meaningful personal feedback of what led us into the current situation—greed, unrealistic expectations, irrational exuberance for starters. In addition, most lamenters share in a passive approach to mastering their own financial and personal affairs.

If I’ve learned anything about the psychology of money management all of these years, I’ve learned that greater self-trust is projected unconsciously onto others and leads to greater trust of others. We know that we’ll do everything in our power to act in our own best self-interest, control what we can and then do our best with what we can’t. So, it’s clear we need greater trust in our own capabilities and efforts to protect ourselves and act in our best interest. We have to spend the time and do our own work—whatever it takes to bring back a greater sense of certainty and control. If I don’t trust myself because of mistakes I’ve made then I can’t really trust others. I have to see and own part of the responsibility.

So we talked about this concept in the group and waded through a lot of resistance to really perceiving the role that each one of us played. I must say we all left feeling more empowered and motivated to push ahead. Sometimes it takes making peace with a dreaded situation and finding a way to deal and cope as best we can.