A Sherpa is a member of the Tibetan people living on the slopes of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal, known for providing support for mountain climbers. Many people know that Sir Edmund Hillary (of New Zealand) was the first person to summit Mt. Everest. Fewer people appreciate that Tenzing Norgay of Nepal was the Sherpa that accompanied, guided, and assisted on his ascent of the highest mountain in the world. Tenzing was integral to Hillary’s success, as a guide with both massive climbing experience and a tremendous ability to connect and understand Hillary.
After recently watching a documentary of this first successful ascent of Everest I was stunned to see and hear the details of the climb. Here are some important stats to provide perspective for this accomplishment:
- The altitude at basecamp was 17,900 feet.
- The summit is at 29,035 feet.
- The climb was achieved in 1953, well before the advent of modern-day outerwear and equipment. Wool was the clothing of choice back then, not specialized high-end (and less itchy…) synthetic fibers.
Prior to descending, Hillary and Norgay agreed not to reveal who had stepped first onto the summit, presumably because to them it didn’t matter – they had conquered the climb together. While we don’t have our clients lives in our hands as Norgay (quite literally) did with Hillary, there are some parallels to the relationship which hold true as your “financial Sherpa”:
- Experience – We’ve seen the rough parts of the mountain. We’ve witnessed the stories and led many expeditions. Our advisory team is a community of Sherpas, and we share stories about different client situations to increase our knowledge base and ultimately our clients’ future success. We’ll put all that we’ve collectively learned to use for you.
- Connection - It’s not just about the numbers. I’m sure that Tenzing Norgay knew his stuff when it came to equipment, weather patterns, and optimal climbing routes but I’m also sure that he was most valued by Edmund Hillary as being a true partner. It’s as much about knowing your partner as it is about knowing the mountain.
- Trust - We see our client relationships as a shared journey with shared accomplishments. Above all, we want to help you figure out how to make your financial objectives work. Tradeoffs are often required, adjustments might have to be made based on the climate in your life, or on the broader mountain. We’re there to help you achieve your goals regardless of unexpected turns your journey might take, and we’ll be honest with you along the way.
- Guidance - There is a shared belief that we can accomplish more together than alone, but ultimately you, the client, are in charge. You’ll ask our opinion, and we’ll provide our recommendations and thoughts, but at the end of the day it’s your money and your wonderful adventure.
In the end, we love this work and are grateful to spend our days on the mountain, helping our clients climb their own personal “Everest”.
Written by Joe Marques, CFP®