Monday Mornings with Madison


What does it mean to be a trusted advisor?  The term ‘trusted advisor’ has been used and abused to the point where it has lost its meaning.  Salespeople, pushing to establish overnight relationships and quickly gain unearned trust, dub themselves ‘trusted advisors.’  They often fall short of that coveted position.

Consider that trust has two parts: trust in intention and trust in competence.  An advisor must have the right motivations or intentions as well as the right skills or qualifications to give advice in particular matters.   Sometimes the advisor’s agenda does not line up with that of the advisee. Sometimes it does. Sometimes the advisor’s skills line up with the problem at hand. Sometimes they don’t.  A third consideration is circumstance.  A trusted advisor is conditional, depending on context. Sometimes an advisor is able to assess a situation clearly and rationally.  Sometimes not.  Under stress, the advisor’s capacity to advise may be impaired. 

Madison prides itself on being the trusted advisor to property owners and real estate investors around the country.  In fact, Madison’s Blog — titled “The Trusted Advisor” — provides weekly advice to readers on commercial real estate topics such as rent rolls, lease management, real estate pricing, certificates of occupancy, bonus tax depreciation, and the like.  The goal is to give sage, sound advice on matters related to commercial and residential real estate.

So what does it mean to be a trusted advisor?  To be a trusted advisor, one must first know the qualities of a trusted advisor.  Here is a partial list of qualities (surely not exhaustive but at least a good starting point).

A trusted advisor:

  1. listens carefully without preconceptions
  2. seeks to understand first and then be understood
  3. has maximum expertise (in the topic of trust)
  4. makes complex things understandable
  5. puts things in perspective
  6. offers a fresh perspective
  7. provides food for thought
  8. kindly challenges wrong assumptions
  9. helps separate logic from emotion
  10. gently guides or corrects
  11. gives options without urgency
  12. doesn’t try to force his/her judgment on others
  13. is not arrogant
  14. provides reasoning, not conclusions
  15. provides recommendations, not decisions
  16. gives advice that, if followed, produces results
  17. seeks to connect on a real level (not hiding behind a mask)
  18. remains calm
  19. is committed to the relationship long-term
  20. is always honest
  21. understands effortlessly
  22. genuinely likes
  23. is empathetic
  24. is approachable
  25. is available; not in a rush
  26. is accessible (especially at key moments)
  27. is consistent
  28. is dependable
  29. is reliable
  30. behaves honorably
  31. always has the advisee’s best interest at heart
  32. is affable

To all who strive to be a ‘trusted advisor,’ adopt the behaviors, habits and discipline of a ‘trusted advisor.’  You are sure to be held in higher esteem and see the quality of your relationships improve as a result.


“Set your expectations high; find men and women whose integrity and values you respect; get their agreement on a course of action; and give them your ultimate trust.” John Fellows Akers

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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