Month 2 – Looking in the Mirror

The dynamo that is VT Advisory has powered through its second month of existence. Tom and I took away yet more lessons this month which I reflect on as I complete my personal tax agent renewal (joy). This month the excitement of commencing practice has abated enough for me to reflect on what I have gotten myself into (yay).

A colleague over drinks said to me “this is the time when you go from knowing you made the right decision with 90% confidence, to knowing you made the right decision with 100% confidence.” He is right, best choice I have ever made.

The Black Hat – How I go in

One of my clients talks about people who are pessimistic being ‘Black Hats’. I don’t know if it is years of training in interpreting tax legislation and the inherent conservatism that comes with this training or some natural propensity to deal with only certainties, but I was Blackest of Hats this month.

I looked at what are objectively fantastic numbers and still found myself wondering whether this is an aberration and that we would surely not make this repeatable. I also looked at our small but fantastic client base and feared that we needed it to grow to have an impact but at the same time not wanting to compromise on the level of service we are offering. The level of service our clients deserve.

Then there were the obstacles in front of my clients and the problems they needed to solve. I just want to get to it and fix them all now, but experience tells me that even with all the right moves, it takes time.

The Trials and the mirror

In growth and in business there is always pain and always struggle. The thing I love about the profession and what I am fortunate to be, is close to my clients. This does mean that I feel a small measure of the pain from their journey and their struggle. However, the mutual respect and trust which allows me to do what I do can only come from that sharing. I got the chance to share the pain and struggle, to gain insight into the uncertainty and to lend my skill and my confidence to my clients this month. I did this willingly and gladly as always, but I wanted to reflect on it more deeply.

I looked in the mirror this month, in the mirror and at my business partner Tom and I drew strength from what stared back. We have prepared for this our entire professional lives, been patient and learned from our employers and our mentors. I acknowledge we stand on the shoulders of these people and that our success is largely due to how hard these Titans were on us. The understanding dawns on me only with the experience of necessity.

The Conversation - brings me out

My most memorable conversation from this month was with Tom. I was doing one of our rare compliance engagements and I turned and said, “It will be great when all we do is advise”. He turned to me and said, “Our clients will grow to the size and automation to the point where all we will do is handle the big stuff”. So, being difficult I say “But I never want to stop believing in the little guys Tom”. Tom returns with “Bill we grow the little guys into the big guys, you never have to”.

Tom’s wisdom and counsel gave me a lot to reflect on this month and they bring me out of myself. We all need advisors and I happen to have the best, the guy saying “Stick em Billy!”. To which the reply will always be “Stick em Tommy!”.

My Thoughts on it all

Our profession and indeed all professions, at their core, are built on the concept of people who serve. We rightly put our client’s interests first. I look at my clients and see these people. But more than that, I see the hopes, dreams, fears as well as the anxieties and uncertainties they battle.

I see what business and life throw at my clients and I see how they handle these challenges. I am in awe. They are giants and do things that should not be possible. I fear that if it were me, I would not have the fortitude to possibly cope. Ironically, my task is to then ask clients to face those challenges again and again. I recognise that being there for them is as important as knowing that the numbers and the advice behind your position are bulletproof. It takes both.

My hopes and dreams are that I have some small part to play in their success. To be in the background willing them to achieve those dreams and reach those heights. To watch their back against the pitfalls that regulators, competitors and life in business throw at them. To guide them and keep them safe. To serve.