Investing, and all that jazz.

I sat tucked into a cool jazz club, soaking up the atmosphere and music. I closed my eyes, and as I tuned into the rhythms, I marveled at how something so complex could make such sense in both composition and execution. While jazz may not be for everyone, experiencing it live embodies several attributes.

It is synergistic. While each performer is equally important, they may not be equally weighted at once. Some segments will tilt towards more bass, heavier drums, keyboards, or brass as one song segues into the next. This disproportionate allocation of resources may not appear to make sense, but the band knows best. At the end of the song, the time and effort the group spent practicing paid off.

It is unpredictable. Trying to anticipate the syncopated beats and wild musical swings are nearly impossible. Predictability runs counter to the very nature of the genre. Perhaps one of the reasons live jazz may not be overly popular is the discomfort of not knowing where the beat may take you. Just when your foot is tapping, and you think you’ve gotten it, the song is off somewhere else entirely — and that’s okay!  It’s all part of the experience. If you can be transported someplace else in your head as a result of the music, the band has done its job.

It is interdependent. Unlike some other musical styles, these talented folks need to rely very heavily on each other’s lead, timing and be totally in tune with one another. Spontaneous adjustments may be necessary for the fluidity of the song. As with all live productions, attention to details such as acoustics, feedback, lighting, and stage design all make a difference in the outcome of the performance. Where you go to see the show matters.

As most things do, it got me thinking about my industry and what we do each day. In financial services, we are precariously perched between performance and desired outcome. When the two get out of balance, people may feel uncertain, dissatisfied, or not grasp concepts. We must break down the complex into digestible bits of information, clear on the client’s needs, regardless of our agenda. Their end goals remain at the forefront of every conversation.

In this way, we ensure the overall discussion is positive even though segments of it may feel uncomfortable, or not be what we expected. Like live jazz, it’s easy to hone in on one specific piece of a well-orchestrated portfolio because it is the current focus of attention.

A client might not be able to tap their foot to the same rhythm as the next person but may end up better off in the long run because the score was composed with care, and the stage set with their specific needs in mind. We remind them that investing is a tool to get them to where they need to be.

In music and in finance, dichotomy will always exist. At times the intensity is equally as powerful as the harmony is beautiful. We must be prepared to coach through both.

It is our responsibility to guide our clients through the disharmony. The ups and downs of markets, madness, and unexpected volatility. In the end, it will all come together and make perfect sense — now, that’s something to get jazzed up about.

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