Investing… and all that jazz.

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

It is synergisticWhile each performer is equally important, they may not be equally weighted at once. There are segments which require a tilt towards more bass, a more massive drum beat or simply keyboards or brass as the song segues into the next. This disproportionate allocation of time may not appear to make sense, but typically the band knows best. The end of the song leaves one realizing that the time and effort the group spent practicing served the patrons well.

It is unpredictableTrying 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, your off somewhere else entirely — and that’s okay!  It’s all part of the experience. If by the end of the song you’ve been transported someplace in your head as a result of the music, the band has done its job.

It is interdependentUnlike some other musical styles, these talented folks need to rely very heavily on each other’s lead, timing and be entirely in tune with one another. Spontaneous adjustments may be necessary for the fluidity and outcome 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. I typically wonder how others relate to what I try to do each day. We are precariously perched between performance and desired outcome within financial services. When the understanding between the two gets out of balance people may feel uncertain, dissatisfied, or not grasp the concept. The service we need to provide is breaking down the complex into digestible bits of information, being clear on what the client’s needs are regardless of our well-intended agenda, and keeping their end goals at the forefront of every conversation.

In this way we ensure the experience of the discussion yields a positive outcome even though segments of it may feel uncomfortable, or not be what we had in mind. Helping them not to focus on one particular part of an account by emphasizing the overall composition of the portfolio as a whole, we remind them that it is a tool to get them to where they need to be.

They 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.

In music as in life, 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 ups and downs of markets, madness, and minutiae. In periods of disharmony or unexpected volatility it helps to remind them that the composition of their song may seem complicated, or even a little off-beat, but in the end it will all make perfect sense — now, that’s something to get jazzed up about.

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