Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor. This article is not intended to win your business. I’m just an Average-Joe investor who likes to learn about personal finance. And through my education (videos, books, blogs, and podcasts), some troubling trends have stood out to me that some “professionals” out there need to be told “Bye Felicia.”
By the end of this post, I hope you feel empowered to take back some of the power of personal finance from the gatekeepers who may throw jargon at you to throw you off and make it seem too hard to learn. It’s time to reclaim our freedom. It’s time to take ownership of our future and not let snake oil salesmen call the shots.
The next time I do hire someone, it will be a certified financial planner (CFP), which will be someone who is fee-based. A CFP is a certified fiduciary (meaning, legally bound to act in your best interest), charges a flat fee, and will walk me through a plan I can implement myself. This is very different from someone commission-based. The latter is basically a salesperson with no standard certification recognized in the industry… unless you count Felicia’s many certificates on how to sell you crappy life insurance that is disguised as a retirement vehicle.
If you want to follow my own criteria for interviewing certified financial planners, these are three things I always look out for…
(1) “I don’t have a crystal ball.”
This one is very popular among realtors too. Here’s the thing… if I ask for your opinion of where you see the market heading, it’s because I value your expertise in your profession. YOUR profession. You know, that thing you do all week while I’m doing a totally different profession 40 hours a week? Call me silly, but I assume that you stay engaged in your profession enough that you will know more about it than me.
However, if you avoid all responsibility by using this tired response, you are basically saying that I’m just as well off by NOT hiring you because you don’t offer any more guidance than I would as a novice picking stocks by throwing darts at a dart board.
Now, the above statement is fine if you want to preface it with actually providing something of value. But girl… if that’s all you got to say, it’s time for you follow the words of the great RuPaul and “sashay away.”
Oh, and you should probably be in another profession. One where you’re passionate about it enough to stay up on current trends.
(2) “You don’t really need me to sign a fiduciary agreement.”
A fiduciary agreement means that the advisor is legally bound to act in your best interest. Get this: over 90% of Certified Financial Advisors are reportedly working for clients without a fiduciary agreement (ref: Millionaires Unveiled podcast).
That means they are essentially used car dealers trying to push you toward whatever broke-down investment vehicle will pay them the highest commission. If your advisor will not agree to sign it, run.
(3) “Hiring me is like a professional athlete hiring a coach.”
This one must be taught at financial planning
For one, being a professional athlete implies that their sport is their 9-to-5 “profession.” It’s essential to their job. Are you saying that the 1-2% management fees—fees which have been proven to not even outperform the market over time (ref: Jack Bogle)—are essential to my being able to invest my money successfully? A 2% fee, by the way, which Bogle estimates will erode nearly 2/3 of what your portfolio could’ve grown to throughout decades of investing with an average return of 7%.
And are you saying that even after hiring you and paying this enormous fee, I’m supposed to still be working as a full-time investor similar to a full-time ball thrower/dunker/kicker? No.
The library is now closed.
If you’d like to take the power back from jargon-dropping financial planners who say they’re the only ones qualified to manage your money, take a peek at a few of my favorite resources on financial literacy. Before long, you too will be spilling the T on financial advisors in no time.
Happy investing, Moneymakers!