The voice exploded out of the telephone in anger. The client, calling at 6:30 in the morning, had opened his mail to find his investments tumbling. It was the market sell-off of late 2008, and his message bristled with rage and frustration. John Parker, an advisor with IPI at Home Federal Bank in Middlesboro, Ky., was, frankly, rattled. Those were difficult months for all his clients—but this one was different. His client's wife, in her forties and mother to their two teenage children, had, at this moment of market turmoil, just learned she was dying from an aggressive form of cancer.

"My first thought was that I must have let them down, done something wrong," says Parker. On reflection, however, he realized the depth of their distress had nothing to do with him. "Life had dealt them a blow, and they needed someone to take care of their needs, not someone worried about his own ego."

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