I spoke last week at a retreat for the Financial Planning Association in Georgia, and told them this wasn’t a great time to be in their business. The recent recklessness, and some frankly criminal behavior of bankers, Wall Street financiers, and “institutions to big-to-fail”, nearly sank the world’s economy, and besmirched the entire financial services industry.

We are living in volatile, divisive political times; there is a global epidemic of mistrust. Building relationships based on truth-telling has become a myth of yesteryear; what’s right and wrong in our culture is decided by what you can get away with, and it breeds an atmosphere of greed and self-interest.

Today nobody knows what the truth is because “facts” have just become alternative points of view. What you say doesn’t have to be what you mean or believe, and as a result we are drowning in bullshit.

Your greatest asset In these volatile times I told them, had nothing to do with their familiarity of changing regulations, computer savvy, or knowledge of new products. It had everything to do with their integrity, their honor, and character. Their success now, and always, will be based on whether their clients like, believe, and trust them.

I told stories from my work with American Indians….the Navajo word for truth is “Hozho” it is also the word for health, beauty, harmony, balance, and the Great Spirit. In the language of mind/body/spirit medicine I talked about the importance of maintaining our own balance so that we become exemplars of the kind of relationships we like having with others.

Those are sacred relationships, and I have one with my financial planner. We have a real sense of each other, I trust him. Who he says he is, is who he is, it’s the authenticity I am desperate for, and those are the only relationships I want to have.

I challenged them to use their influence to set the standards in the financial industry.  They had a critical role and enormous influence as their clients are living longer and needing financial guidance. People will give you their most treasured possessions, forgive your mistakes and shortcomings, if they believe in you, and trust you will make decisions based on what’s in their best interests not yours.

I love my financial planner and the older I get, the more I depend on him not to go broke before I die.