Survey SaysThe ideal advisor ...
- discloses fees: 94%
- understands your life and financial goals: 94%
- engages in open and honest dialogue: 84%
- has professional designations: 77%
The most interesting results are quotes from the participants. We’ll look at the main issues raised
TransactionalIf your advisor is focused on making money today, you won't get much attention unless you're buying now. Your past purchases won’t entitle you to ongoing service or attention. That’s short-sighted but does happen.
Here are quotes from the survey
- "He doesn't take the time to explain things thoroughly" [expedient; may not know how]
- "He provides responses that I think are general to his client list" [cheaper than personalized attention; the responses might be prepared by the advisor’s firm, which makes them even more generic]
- "There's not enough contact." [cheaper to ignore those who aren't buying]
- "There's lack of communication." [cheaper, may lack communication skills. especially when writing]
- "I'm just a number [to my advisor]" [and that’s not Number One]
- "She acts like she has no time for me" [why are you paying her?]
- "She doesn't get back to me when I have a question" [why are you paying her?]
SalesYAdvisors can be salesy because they are typically paid based on what they sell
- "I get too many emails" [This comment may mean too many messages of the wrong type. If your advisor uses social media, you decide what you want to receive and how often.]
- "There's a conflict of interest between how they are paid versus my best interest (life stage, fit, superiority of product, personalized to my needs, etc)" [why do you tolerate this?]
- "I'm not able to reach him in difficult times" [why do you tolerate this?]
- "He may retire before I am finished with his services" [You’re paying but your advisor decides how long to keep you? That’s backwards.]
- "He doesn't learn from mistakes"
- "He justifies his actions as "unforeseen events""
"He does not always speak in layman's terms."You'd expect communication to be a core skill, especially when Canadians suffer from innumeracy (financial illiteracy). Skills vary. Some advisors seem brilliant ... but are difficult to understand. Some are clear but … have nothing to say. Practice helps both extremes.
Advisors can hone their communication skills from listening to writing to speaking at Toastmasters. That's an ideal environment to get feedback on the clarity of their messages.
Communicating clearly takes more skill. The first step is having a detailed understanding and the next is to simplify. Do you recall The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey? That's the second half of 5th habit: seek first to understand then to be understood.
UnderstandingYou'd hope that advisors understand you. That's the first half of 5th habit: seek first to understand then to be understood.
If you aren’t confident that your advisor understands you, how can they truly help you. There are oodles of advisors but only one you. They need you more than you need them.
We've discussed advisors before. The simple answer is that the ideal advisor has three elements: chemistry, credentials and generosity. What do you think?
- The ideal advisor (The Forum, Oct 2011)
- RIP: What happens if your advisor dies?
- Is your advisor sleeping on the job?
- Why after-sales service suffers
- Three reasons the rich get richer
- The ABCs of 1-2-3: The key to financial literacy/numeracy
- Why I finally joined Toastmasters
- Does your advisor have these three elements?
- The foolproof measure of trust
- Image courtesy of Tim Grable (US)
Podcast 140 (6:25)
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PS Advisors would serve you better if they read the Seven Habits and applied them.