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Working with a Trusted Advisor – It Matters

As my wife and I decided to embark on the journey of selling our current home and joining the masses willing to overpay for a new home, we found out quickly, this is crazy! Yes, we chose to do this smack in the middle of a pandemic, a few months after our second kiddo was born, and right in the peak of the Seattle sellers’ market, but most significantly, we tried to do it all ourselves—and were immediately caught up in the emotional overload and fatigue. After a few weeks of sale planning with spreadsheets, packing lists, and various design sketches for how to stage, we realized this wasn’t going to work; it was time to bring in professional help.

We had no clue how to properly evaluate the market, how to take emotion out of this decision, and how to set ourselves up for success until we connected with a real estate agent who made everything calm, clear, and understandable. We had an advocate and a partner in the process.

This is no different when choosing to work with a financial advisor or wealth management firm. You are selecting someone or a team of folks that are there to ensure you have all the information needed to make thoughtful and meaningful life and financial decisions. What you are looking for is a “trusted advisor.”

A trusted advisor, a term thrown around all too often, actually has a formula or a “trust equation” associated with it:

This formula was created by David Maister of Harvard, who co-authored a book titled (no surprises here…) The Trusted Advisor.

Although this is a business formula, it is still a helpful reminder for all of us on how to evaluate potential financial advisors. The keys to the equation are explained below:

Do they seem credible?

Are the words and how they present themselves trustworthy, professional, and honest? We generally get to this conclusion fairly quickly.

Are they reliable?

Can they show me examples of their process and how my experience will be with them? Are their actions consistent?

How is their intimacy level, i.e., ability to be emotionally available?

Do they create a place for me to express my feelings and strong emotions? Are they willing to be vulnerable, too?

What is their self-orientation, i.e., motive?

Are they acting in my best interest or driven by something else? Are they more worried about being “right” or how they are being perceived versus providing the best level of service and care? A good indicator is if they are able to listen, acknowledge your feelings, and provide their full attention throughout every conversation. Only then are they acting as a trusted advisor.

One of the roles a trusted advisor plays is to navigate you through the noise of a decision-making process and provide guidance and clarity around the information being assessed. Whether it is a home-selling strategy, wealth management or portfolio design and the financial planning process, we are bombarded with information and begin to make emotional or reactive decisions because we ”feel” one way or another, rather than trusting a process and understanding the outcomes. A trusted advisor should have no other option than to act with your best interest first and put your long-term financial success above anything else. A trusted advisor is above all someone who is capable of totally and completely devoting themselves to their clients.

As we enter the summer months, kids are out of school, hopefully traveling and being with family, so now is the perfect time to get out of the sun and check in on your financial situation, particularly who you trust to go on this journey with you. Do you work with someone who gives you advice? Or are you working with a true partner, fiduciary, and trusted advisor?

Learn what it is like to work with a CPWM trusted advisor by contacting us at

This blog post was written from the personal point of view of one of our Relationship Managers. Head to our Team Page to learn more about our team, and all the perspectives they bring to the table.

Important Disclosure Information:

Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the risk of loss of your entire investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results. CPWM and its employees can give no assurance that the performance of any specific investment recommendation or investment strategy discussed herein, whether directly or indirectly, will be profitable, or that it will be equal to any historical performance level discussed herein. The discussion or information contained herein is not intended to be, and should not be deemed as, personalized investment advice. The recommendations made may not be suitable for your specific individual situation and we encourage you to discuss with your financial professional before undertaking any investment strategy or recommendation contained herein. The discussions contained in this blog is current only as of the date hereof and may change due to a number of factors, including varying market conditions.

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