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Everyone needs a good caddy now and then!

May 01, 2024 | Brian T. Ford, CFP®


Brian explores the similarities of being a golf caddy and a financial advisor and how both involve providing guidance and support to clients.

Brian Ford RBC Heritage

I love playing and watching golf. But I admit, getting up before dawn is not my cup of tea.

Recently, I had a great opportunity to be a part of a unique experience at the RBC Heritage Classic PGA tournament in Hilton Head, SC. It is the single largest sporting event each year in South Carolina. The professionals love the tournament because it always falls the week after the stress of The Masters, and they enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere and often bring their families.

Because RBC is the title sponsor, I was able to serve as a caddy in the Wednesday Pro-Am on the famous Harbourtown golf course. My client and I arrived in the dark at the course at 6:15 a.m. for our 7:20 a.m. tee time.

I was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to watch professionals up close and personal, as well as wondering how I would fare carrying a fully-loaded bag for all 18 holes!

Being a caddy and being a financial advisor may seem completely unrelated, but I think there are a number of ways in which there are parallels.

Strong advocate

Even the best golf players in the world like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have swing coaches, fitness trainers and nutritionists. As financial advisors, we are there for our clients as they navigate the different financial stages of life. Whether it’s changing your work status, welcoming new family members, or even grieving the loss of loved ones, we listen and provide independent and objective guidance.

Knowledge and expertise

To be a good caddy, you need to know your player, the course, and the conditions. In my experience for the last 30 years as a financial advisor, I have found that getting to know what is most important to my clients and their families absolutely allows me to advise them better when we are faced with a variety of financial and life decisions.

Adaptability and problem solving

Winds change, fatigue sets in, and unexpected challenges confront even the best of athletes. In a similar vein, financial advisors need to adapt to changing market environments, evolving needs of our clients, and creative solutions to new personal and financial matters.

Decision support

Good caddies really earn their keep by helping their player with technical decisions about what yardage to hit, which club to swing when, and how the greens will break one way or the other. As financial advisors, we also provide regular guidance on investment decisions, how to assess retirement readiness, and ways to analyze risk and return in your portfolio.

Continuous learning

We heard from several professional caddies about the changes they have seen in their field in the last few decades. Equipment upgrades, course mapping and video surveillance have upgraded their capabilities but has also required them to stay current in order to provide excellent advice. Financial advisors also need to stay on top of market trends, investment strategies, financial technology and changing regulations.

I had a great time on the bag at the RBC Heritage, but I was definitely ready for a rest afterward! For one thing, it gave me a greater appreciation for the physical endurance of the men and women you see on TV who do this for four consecutive rounds 15-20 times a year around the globe. It also gave me greater insight into the logistics of running and planning such a major event as the RBC Heritage.

More than that, being a caddy reminded me of what I really love to do: and that is helping people understand their goals, make good decisions, and plan for what lies ahead.

Hope you enjoy your next walk or ride around the links, and please share any good golf stories you have.


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