By now you’ve all seen the replay of the horrible call at the end of Monday night’s football game that gave the Seattle Seahawks a “victory” over my beloved Green Bay Packers. In the interest of full disclosure I am a lifelong Packer fan. This love affair with the Pack began towards the end of the 1966 season (I was nine) a season in which they won the first Super Bowl; Vince Lombardi was the coach; and Bart Starr and eight other players from this team would end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I’ve seen some great wins and some disappointing losses over the past 45 years. Beyond the botched call on Monday, the whole tone of the games with these unqualified replacement refs is just hard to watch.
Update as of late September 26, 2012 the NFL announced that a tentative deal with the real refs had been reached and hopefully we will never see anything as shameful as this episode again.
Unqualified and incompetent referees in the NFL are discouraging, but an unqualified financial advisor can cause some real harm to you.
Is your advisor qualified? The ref who signaled touchdown on that last play clearly was not. He had never officiated a game above the junior college level before this NFL season. Typically an NFL official must have at least five years experience at the college level. As far as your financial advisor, ask yourself if she is qualified to advise you on your situation. Does she take a holistic view of your financial situation or does she simply try to sell you more financial products? Moreover does your advisor have the proper credentials such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation?
Does your financial advisor collaborate with other professionals on your behalf? One of the comments made by several of the experts on ESPN and other networks is that the head referee never called over the two officials who made the conflicting calls in the end zone to hear their explanations. One of these experts is a former league referee and he indicated this should have occurred as a matter of course. As a financial advisor I often tap the expertise of financial advisor colleagues and other professionals in areas like estate planning and insurance on behalf of my clients. I consider myself a financial planning generalist, but I also know what I don’t know. The key is doing the best job that I can for my clients. Does your advisor take this approach? If not why not?
Does your advisor place your interests first? Clearly the NFL doesn’t really care about its fans or for that matter its players. Why else would they put out such a cheapened product for the first three weeks of the season and put their players potentially at greater risk of injury? It’s all about the money and the NFL is raking it in. Likewise many financial advisors are all about the sale of financial and insurance products. They are strictly out for the money; their client’s interests come second. For many commissioned and fee-based advisors this is both the norm and perfectly legal as they are not held to a Fiduciary standard. I’m biased, look for a fee-only advisor who holds him or herself out as a Fiduciary and who puts their client’s interests first.
Let’s hope the NFL settles their labor differences soon. But more importantly, make sure that you have a first stringer as your financial advisor.
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Photo credit: Reuters