What would be the most important aspect in your line of work?
I have clients that have been with me for over 25 years. They started out when they were much younger and they were building up their wealth, and now they’re retired and they’re quite well off. We’ve grown together, and that’s the beauty of it. You can only be successful in this career by building deep relationships with your clients. Ultimately, we want to have long-term relationships that are going to be fruitful for both parties.
What is your best tip for maintaining good relationships with clients?
I would say clear communication. You need to always be able to communicate with each other with transparency and trust. The easiest thing that could break down any relationship is lack of trust.
How would you build up trust with someone?
I think you build trust by being genuine and being yourself. Never pretend to be something that you’re not, and always keep your promises. That’s so important to me.
If I recommend something to my client, it would be something that I would do in their situation. Or if my parents were sitting in that chair, I would comfortably recommend that.
Is there any important personal relationship that shapes who you are today?
I would say my husband, who I met when I was 17 years old. It was pure luck that I met him at university. We dated for about four weeks, fell in love head over heels, and decided to get married. I was totally against marriage before that, so my poor parents were shocked. Then we went to Iran to get married in the middle of the Iranian revolution. So many things happened, you could make a movie.
We’re lucky that we share the same values and have the same goals in life. There has been nothing that we have not been able to reach an agreement on. The most important thing for us actually is maintaining our relationship.
You mention that you and your husband share similar values. Where does that value system come from?
Partly from our culture, and mostly from our families. My parents have been married for 61 years. We got married on their 20th anniversary. Their relationship and the love that they had for each other, that has always been a good source of values for me.
But as I said, I was very young when I got married. I think my husband had a big influence on me, and I am very glad, because he is very clear on his values, and I wasn’t. At 17, I really didn’t have much of an idea what my values were.
Since your work focuses on charitable financial planning, based on your experience, how do you and your clients balance the relationship between maintaining wealth and contributing to the community or to a cause they care about?
I had one gentleman that came to me because he wanted to donate $100,000 to a hospital and $100,000 to a university. He was worried whether he could afford it or not. After we did a financial plan for him, we found out that he could actually donate $100,000 every year for the rest of his life, and still leave millions of dollars for his children. It’s a very eye-opening exercise because I come across a lot of philanthropic people who have not done proper financial planning for themselves.
It’s always been my personal philosophy that by giving, you will get back. It will come back to you in many different ways. It may not come back as money, but it may come back as prosperity, joy, happiness with your family. All of these things are part of wealth. Wealth is not just about money.
When people have wealth, they tend to purchase objects they enjoy. What’s your attitude about owning objects?
I see no value in buying jewellery and putting it in a safe deposit box, or buying art and putting it in a warehouse. Some collectors do it, and they really enjoy it, but for me, I have to see my art on the wall. I have to enjoy the objects that I buy.
My husband bought me a Bulgari necklace more than 20 years ago. I just love it. I love that it’s a very classic piece. It also brings back good memories. It is the same when I buy a piece of art; it has to speak to me.