By Shelby Holt, Client Services Specialist, with Chris Vasquez, Advisor Associate

Over the course of our years serving clients, it has been our honor to walk alongside people in some of the most difficult and complex situations they face, guiding them in financial decisions and being present to ease their  concerns.

These situations bring with them the full range of human emotion, as you can imagine. Especially at big transition points, clients often come to us with mixtures of hope, worry, insecurity, and vulnerability. After all, personal finances are among the most sensitive and intimate subjects imaginable. In a world packed with sales people, how do you trust anyone to have your best interest at heart?

Trust is the central theme of the story that follows. It is a story of confidence earned the old fashioned way, through hard work, communication, and time spent in the trenches together. Trusting someone with your finances is a big leap, and it does not happen over night. One of our favorite clients learned this first hand when she came to us one day in 2018 with arms full of paperwork and no way forward.

She and her husband had been long-standing clients. He was calm and patient in his investment style. As the primary earner for their family, he made regular contributions to their accounts, and trusted that in due course their investments would bear fruit. She wished she could be more involved and active in her contributions, but since much of her time had been spent caring for her aging parents, she hardly had a minute to spare. Upon her father’s death, however, her situation suddenly became more pressing. She was now faced with settling his estate. She stood to inherit a truly complicated array of bank accounts, tax-deferred retirement accounts, individual municipal bond holdings and old stock certificates, in addition to the family ranch. Though at first determined to do it herself, she became quickly aware of how complicated it would be to process the mountains of paperwork she faced, so she came to us for guidance.

Thomas and Chris sat with her and poured through the many folders of papers and documents she had brought along with her. Thomas explained to her that Chris would be taking charge of this project in efforts to be as helpful and available as possible. But when Chris stepped out to make copies of these documents, she expressed to Thomas reservations about working with Chris, because he was the newest member of the team. She worried she was being pawned off to someone inexperienced, and was hesitant to get started. After all, how could she trust someone with this massive and sensitive task when she had no personal relationship with that person?

Thomas assured her that she was not being shunted off, that he would be supervising every step along the way, and that he was certain she’d come to trust Chris just as he had over the four years Chris had been part of the team. So she agreed to move forward. Chris took a few weeks to prepare and get his bearings for what this project would entail. He systematically gathered information about each element of her inheritance, and realized just how extensive a task it would be. It would entail tracking down bank accounts and IRAs from small rural banks across the state, liquidating and consolidating investment accounts, determining cost basis for holdings that were never traded publicly, and contacting various financial institutions to get everyone on the same page. It also meant coordinating with her father’s CPA to determine whether the correct Required Minimum Distributions had been taken prior to his death, and how best to correct the situation once it was determined that they had not. After taking stock of what work needed to be done, he came up with a game plan.

Over the course of the next several months, through numerous phone calls and meetings, Chris advised her on the next steps they needed to take together to chip away at this highly complex project, and the two started to make headway. At first, she was not so sure, grilling him with intense questions and skepticism. But as time went on she began to see that Chris’ hard work and organization was paying off. As the process began to unfold and as check after
check started to come in from the accounts being settled, seeing the fruits of all this labor brought her relief and understanding that Chris really had her best interest at heart.

Chris had saved the most complicated pieces for last, sorting through and settling old stock certificates, some of which were still listed in her deceased mother’s name. This required her to sign stacks of paperwork in order to consolidate and re-register these holdings. When she arrived and took her seat she saw folders neatly arranged, documents highlighted, and lines flagged for her convenience so she knew exactly where to sign, making what could have been
a mind bending task something she could make her way through with ease. She was impressed, and now forever convinced that Chris was on her team. He had taken extra time to flag and highlight those documents for her, and she was grateful. Nearing the end of 2018, as she and Chris finalized the last bits of paperwork, at last this complicated challenge was settled. They had done it.

Chris later received a warm note in the mail from her, thanking him for all his hours of care and dedication to helping her settle her father’s estate. A client who started from a place of skepticism and hesitation had seen first hand the lengths to which this team will go to do the right thing and do it well. Trust is earned. We understand that well here. Our industry is packed with “advisors” just looking for the next sale. We take pride in standing with clients through thick and thin. The confidence and trust our clients place in us is our most treasured possession, so we thank each of you for placing that level of confidence in our hands.