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What do we mean by the Holy Grail? And whose values? Yours or ours?

Regarded as a sacred object, the Holy Grail refers to the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper; it is believed to possess miraculous powers to “provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance.” Whether real and lost to history or only a legend in literature, the quest for the Holy Grail is an apt metaphor for today’s post.

At the very heart of the relationship between advisor and client we find the oft unspoken quest for core values. You want to know your advisor’s core values. He or she wants to know yours. Why?

One word: Trust.

When embarking on a financial life journey together, client and advisor must trust one another. The presence of trust is the only way to remove the fear of risk, so often prevalent in financial decisions.

You meet with an advisor. He asks you to read his Fiduciary Oath. Is that sufficient? What more should you know?

He asks what you value in life and how you wish to express those values through your wealth. Is that sufficient? What more should he know?

In understanding our core values, we try to figure out the nature of our best selves. How to guide our behavior with a strong moral compass. How to treat people, clients, and each other.

While core values require an inward-focused search over time, outside events, pivotal people, and lifelong learning shape them, too. Let me ask a question.

Does a statement of values hung on an office wall or written into a Fiduciary Oath move you?

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Many companies state core values in their public-facing documents: Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. What do these words mean? They meant nothing to Enron in whose 2000 annual report they were printed.

Or are core values the embodiment of how we behave each day? How employees behave? What we do in a crisis? What we do in private and in public.

Core values, like the Holy Grail, are to be revered, protected and woven into life’s moments of truth.

For us, core values are critical to long-term growth and our business value. But they are not one dimensional. They matter because they build bonds of trust. With you and your family.

I worry about the financial services industry. Too many examples of rudderless, rogue advisors or ravenous banks have commanded headlines since 2008. Remember the '80s savings and loan crisis?

But we can and will stand apart. By following your core values. And our own.

Your Core Values First

As a client of Roush Investment Group, either on the wealth management or 401(k) plan side, you took a leap of faith that we would deliver on our promise. I’ll share a quote by Roy Disney: “It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

You knew. And decided to join us. I hope not before we fully understood you as a person. Because deep understanding of our clients underscores our business purpose. Your unique beliefs, attitudes and behaviors matter to us.

Instead of asking you questions from a pro forma questionnaire, we try to ask the question behind the question.

  • What’s your WHY?
  • What are your values and are you being true to them?
  • Do you do the things you know you should?
  • Are your “shoulds” blocking your happiness?
  • If you achieved all your life’s goals, how would you feel? What would it look like?
  • If we could wave a magic wand and do anything together, what would you want to happen?

These are but a few of hundreds of questions that go to the source of your core values. Your answers help us to hear you, see you and understand you.

Something we all want. To be heard, seen and understood. Don’t misunderstand. We are not psychologists. By any stretch. We deal with these questions because money can exercise power over the human mind. And money, especially wealth, can affect your core values.

Think for a moment about your core values. Here’s a short, random list some of the values our clients might share with us. Do you recognize any of your core values?

  • Hard work or work/life balance
  • Achievement and helping others achieve
  • Wealth and shared prosperity
  • Lifelong learning, education and knowledge
  • Self-awareness and personal growth
  • Financial independence, safety and security
  • Longevity with vitality of health
  • Serenity, simplicity, peace of mind
  • Dignity, ethics and truth
  • Significance, power and esteem
  • Philanthropy, shared prosperity and citizenship
  • Duty, responsibility, honor
  • Compassion, goodwill and gratitude
  • Experience, expertise, creativity
  • Fairness, justice and trust
  • Family, friendship, relationships

You’ll notice one value concept missing: Happiness.

Most clients value happiness and tell us wealth brings happiness, brings meaning.

The late Joseph Campbell, an extraordinary writer and lecturer on the human experience, saw life this way:

Fotolia 82755314 XS 2“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”


An experience of being fully alive.

With your core values to guide you on the journey.

It’s nothing less than perfect in a less than perfect world.

So how does the Roush team express its core values. Allow me:

1. In how we hire:

    Character before talent. We can train for talent. Passion, accountability and ethics come from deep within. We own what we do. And when we hire correctly, we transfer the benefits of our core values to you.

2. In how we behave:

    Professionalism without compromise. When we’re guided by core values, we can change behavior in ourselves and others for the good. And we can make a difference in the lives of clients and their families.

3. In how we manage our firm:

    Open to new ideas and challenges. Keeping it real and honest. Willing to accept the pain that living one’s values can create. Doing the right thing. Fostering teamwork and community service. Pumping the heart of our culture with our core values.

4. In how we treat our clients:

    With regard, respect and collaboration. As intelligent, accomplished people who always deserve our best thinking, ideas, solutions and attention. As members of our family who wish a bit of help to realize their vision.

Well, I’ve been a little philosophical in this post. Thank you for indulging me. My takeaway message?

Whomever you choose to advise you financially, anchor the relationship with shared core values.

To Your Financial Freedom,

rick roush

Rick Roush AIF®, CPFA

Roush Investment Group

O: 559.579.1490 F: (559) 490-2015 C: (559) 285-3318