The Bernhardt Way
Choosing a trusted wealth manager is more than just a business decision. It’s a personal one as well. At Bernhardt Wealth Management, we believe in creating relationships built on a foundation of trust in order to make the maximum possible impact in the lives of our clients. We believe trust is earned and is the most important asset we manage. We create trusting, long-term relationships by focusing on 4 C’s: Character, Chemistry, Caring, and Competence. But what do these words mean in daily practice? The 26 Fundamentals that follow provide the answer. They’re what set us apart and what makes us leaders in our field.
We call it The Bernhardt Way.
PUT CLIENTS FIRST, ALWAYS
We exist to serve our clients’ best interests. Period. We have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that our advice is free of any biases, and that we avoid any conflict of interest. When people give us their money, we enter into a sacred trust with them. Honor that trust ALWAYS.
MAKE QUALITY PERSONAL
Take pride in the quality of everything you touch and everything you do. From the way you create a proposal to the way you answer the phone, from the way you research a solution to the way you fill out paperwork, always ask yourself, “Is this my best work?” Remember that everything you touch has your signature. Sign in bold ink.
We sell trust more than we sell anything else, and nothing helps build trust more than practicing transparency. Be completely transparent about our relationships, our fees, and even what we can and cannot do.
ATTEND TO DETAILS
Accuracy is everything in our business. Be in the habit of proofreading all letters, e-mails, spreadsheets and proposals for accuracy and correctness. The goal is to get things “right,” not simply to get things “done.” Being obsessively careful about the details is a demonstration of how much we care.
Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. This includes being on time for all phone calls, appointments, meetings and promises. If a commitment can’t be fulfilled, notify others early and agree on a new timeframe to be honored.
BE A FANATIC ABOUT RESPONSE TIME
People expect us to respond to their questions and concerns quickly, whether it’s in person, on the phone or by e-mail. This includes simply acknowledging that we got the question and we’re “on it,” as well as keeping those involved continuously updated on the status of outstanding issues. Rapid response keeps us standing out from the crowd.
EXECUTE DUE DILIGENCE
Developing the best solution for the client isn’t always obvious and isn’t always easy. Often it requires significant research as well as creativity. Have a bias for thoroughness and do the extra work necessary to find the best way to meet the client’s objectives.
CARE LIKE IT’S YOUR FAMILY
Clients don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Do the small things (handwritten notes, cards, phone calls) that show people you’re paying attention to them as individuals and that you genuinely care. Treat them with the compassion you would a member of your own family.
Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” Give others your undivided attention. Be present and engaged. Quiet the noise in your head and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Suspend your judgment and be curious to know more, rather than jumping to conclusions. Above all, listen to understand.
Speak honestly in a way that helps to make progress. Say what you mean, and be willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise issues that may cause conflict when it’s necessary for team success. Have the courage to say what needs to be said. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected.
PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM-SOLVING
Just fix it. Demonstrate a relentless solution focus, rather than pointing fingers or dwelling on problems. Identify lessons learned and use those lessons to improve ourselves and our processes so we don’t make the same mistake twice. Learn from every experience.
GET CLEAR ON EXPECTATIONS
We judge situations not by what happens, but by how they compare to what we expected to happen. Create clarity and avoid misunderstandings by discussing expectations upfront. Set expectations for others and ask when you’re not clear on what they expect of you.
MAKE EACH INTERACTION COUNT
Every contact with a client is an opportunity to create a positive experience. This includes calls, visits, voicemail, letters, e-mails, and every other communication. Make sure every interaction leaves our client feeling wanted, appreciated and respected.
FIND A WAY
Take personal responsibility for solving problems and making things happen – somehow, someway. Take ownership and respond to every situation by looking for how it can be done, rather than explaining why it can’t. Work with a sense of urgency. Be resourceful and show initiative.
COMMUNICATE TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Comprehension is the responsibility of the communicator, so know your audience. Write and speak in a way that they can understand. Avoid using industry acronyms and jargon. Use the simplest possible explanations.
HELP GET IT DONE
Our goal isn’t simply to “discuss” issues or to “explore” possibilities. Rather, it’s to help our clients solve their most important financial planning challenges. Follow-up everything and take responsibility to see that clients come to completion in resolving their pressing issues.
OFFER MEANINGFUL APPRECIATION
Recognizing people doing things right is more effective than pointing out when they do things wrong. Regularly extend meaningful acknowledgment and appreciation — in all directions throughout our organization.
CREATE WIN/WIN SOLUTIONS
Success is a two-way street. Learn to think from the other person’s perspective. Discover what others need and find a way to help them meet those needs while also fulfilling your own. Win/win solutions are always more effective and longer lasting than win/lose situations.
INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS
Everything we do is built on trust and trust is built on relationships. Make smart decisions that enhance long-term relationships. Be fair with clients and our partners. Strong relationships enable us to more successfully work through difficult issues and challenging times.
ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT
Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest, and that the intent behind their actions is positive. Set aside your own judgments and preconceived notions. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
“Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a reason. Regularly consider every aspect of your job to find ways to improve. Try a new approach. Look at it from a unique perspective. Think differently. Share what you learn so that others can benefit from best practices as well.
LOOK AHEAD AND ANTICIPATE
Solve problems before they happen by anticipating future issues, planning for contingencies, and addressing them in advance. Work with appropriate lead times. Preventing issues is always better than fixing them.
TAKE PRIDE IN OUR APPEARANCE
Your personal appearance makes a strong statement about the pride you take in your performance. Dress neatly and professionally. The appearance of our office makes a similar statement about the quality of our work. Take responsibility to see that our office environment is clean, neat, and professional.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
Don’t let ego or personal agenda get in the way of doing what’s best for the team. Be there for each other and be willing to step into another role or help a co-worker when that’s what’s required for success. We win and lose as a team.
GIVE BACK. PAY IT FORWARD
Regularly seek opportunities to assist those in need. Express genuine gratitude for the help received by paying it forward and helping others. Be a servant leader and put the needs of others ahead of your own.
KEEP IT FUN
While our passion for excellence is real, remember that the world has bigger problems than the daily challenges that make up our work. Stuff happens. Keep perspective. Don’t take things personally or take yourself too seriously. Laugh every day.