All Our Clients Are ‘Round’

All Our Clients Are ‘Round’


No, we did not just call our Clients fat. Today, we’re writing about the literary concept of a flat vs. a round character and how it applies to Yeske Buie. We’d like you to take yourself back to your high school English class. While you were busy passing notes (or sending texts, depending on the age of the reader), the teacher may have been sharing some information actually worth retaining. In this case, we’re referring to the two, well-known categories of literary characters: round and flat. A round character is one that undergoes development throughout a story.

They are complex and their characteristics cannot easily be summarized in a few sentences. Most importantly, a round character experiences growth as the pages turn. Conversely, a flat character is predictably one-dimensional. They do not undergo development or change, and their characteristics can be captured in the span of a sentence or two.

While the concept of round vs. flat stems from literature, we can easily apply it to people in our lives. Of course, every human being is complex. Everyone has dreams, memories, and regrets. However, until there is a meaningful relationship, we do not see the dimensionality of a person, and instead see them as flat. For example, the cashier at the grocery store, while at work, is a purely flat character to the other shoppers. A neighbor with whom you only share a friendly “hello” when picking up the morning paper is also flat, unless either party makes an effort to develop a relationship.

On the other side of the coin, our lives are made interesting by round characters. Friends and family, whom we have seen develop and change over time, are perhaps the best example of round characters in our lives. A coworker who you observe growing into a new role, or who you just learn more about during a job, is another example.

To us, some of the “roundest” people we know are our Clients. We are in a unique and privileged position to have a relationship with our Clients that spans time – often years or even decades. We are there as Clients envision and develop their goals, embark on new careers, and grow their families. Through a robust discovery process, we have a depth of understanding regarding their true nature that is not afforded to many. Through tools like the Wheel of Life (pictured below), we help Clients better understand the quality of various realms that constitute their environment. We also use a Life Transitions Survey to encourage Clients to think about the various changes they are currently experiencing, and what might be on the horizon. These tools allow us to see all our Clients as their roundest selves.

We have this opportunity because financial planning is not transactional in nature, but instead transformational. If we were simply selling financial products, our Clients could be treated as flat. Since we are instead serving as a trusted advisor through all the ups and downs, we want our clients as round as they can be. The more we know the Client, the better we can serve them. So, since eating that extra slice of cake won’t help Yeske Buie develop rounder Clients, we ask for your continued willingness to share your true selves with us. It’s an honor to see your complexity, and we truly believe it makes for better planning.