What was your experience the last time you met with a financial advisor? Did you feel like the advisor was doing everything that he or she could to help you meet your financial goals? Did you walk away feeling like you’d had a valuable conversation? Did the advisor feed you cheesy lines or use fear tactics to get you to invest in a specific product? Was there a gut feeling that perhaps you were being influenced in a way that benefited you less and the advisor more?
As a 15-year industry veteran, I can tell you that if your gut tells you that something is off, YOU ARE PROBABLY RIGHT, and you should follow that instinct. If you get a creepy feeling, it is likely a creepy situation.
One of the greatest challenges of finding and choosing an advisor is determining which advisors are credentialed and act as fiduciaries and which ones are sales people who may be pushing products to hit a sales quota.
If you have had an experience with an advisor that left your gut uneasy, here are a few reasons why it might not necessarily be all the advisor’s fault. It is likely that the advisor is simply a product of larger problems that exist within the financial advice industry. Those problems are:
1. The industry allows companies that give financial advice to also be in the business of manufacturing financial products, which can create a conflict of interest.
2. The barriers to entry in our industry are high, and many times the only way to start a career is to take a sales job with an organization that manufactures products and hires “financial advisors” to sell them.
3. Many times, the advisors are required to sell a certain amount of the company’s proprietary products to either keep their job or their benefits.
Because of these three reasons, if someone wants to get into the financial planning business, he or she either has to find an established independent advisor to take them under their wing (which can be very hard to find), or be forced to work for an organization that is in the business of pushing financial products under the guise of offering financial advice.
In my opinion, finding an independent, credentialed (or CFP®) financial advisor makes sense on so many levels. These advisors are much more likely to act in a fiduciary capacity and are likely required to act in your best interest instead of their own. They are not paid to push products, but rather usually motivated to keep their clients over the long term. Most of the time, they are much more likely to do better financially when their clients do better financially, just as they do here at Metcalf Partners Wealth Management.
I decided to take Metcalf Partners Wealth Management independent back in 2011 because I am very passionate about quality of independent financial advice and retirement planning. In my opinion, getting advice from a financial advisor who works for a company that manufactures financial products is the equivalent of getting a prescription from a doctor who works for a company that manufactures drugs. Clearly, a doctor who profits from drugs is going to have a financial incentive to prescribe their own drugs as opposed to someone else’s. It’s no different than the financial advisor who is going to “prescribe” their own products while giving financial advice.
This does not mean that non-independent advisors are bad people, it simply means that they are stuck in an imperfect system. Unless and until the system changes, go with your gut. If you feel led in a direction that doesn’t seem in your best financial interest, walk the other way toward an independent, credentialed advisor.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.