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How Does Your Financial Advisor Define Success?

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I am grateful to Jean Chatzky for her selection of this blog as her top pick among investing blogs in a recent piece for AARP Finance Blogs You Should Read.  In her write-up she generously calls me “An entertaining writer prone to football references…”  With that said I could think of no better way to start a piece about your financial advisor’s definition of success than with a mention of the University of Louisville’s rehiring of Bobby Petrino as their head football coach.  To this college football fan, Louisville’s definition of success is clear and unambiguous.  Is your financial advisor’s definition of success just as clear?

Photograph of Coach Bobby Petrino at the 2010 ...Just win baby

The short story is that the University of Louisville rehired Bobby Petrino as their football coach to replace Charlie Strong who had left for Texas.  Petrino was highly successful at Louisville from 2003-2006 before leaving for greener pastures.  Petrino’s alleged lack of character and morals typify everything that critics point to as being wrong with big-time college sports, however I’m pretty confident that none of that was a factor in the decision to hire him.  He is a talented coach and a proven winner and Louisville needs both qualities as they move to the ACC next season to compete with the likes of Florida State, Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech.

As the late Al Davis, founder and owner of the Oakland Raiders, said, “Just win baby.”

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis you know that I am a fan of openness and transparency in the financial services industry so I have no issue with Louisville’s motives for this move, though I did razz my friend, NAPFA study group mate, and UL grad Greg Curry immediately (Greg is an outstanding Louisville-based fee-only advisor).

Just as Petrino was clearly brought in to win, many financial advisors sadly seem to be in this business with the primary motivation of winning, which I am defining here as earning a whole lot of money for themselves.  Why else would sales training be such a big part of the orientation programs at many firms?  Why else would there be sales contests with nice prizes such as trips to luxurious destinations for selling certain financial products?  Don’t get me wrong I’m not against earning a good living, just not at the expense of the people whose interests are supposed to come first and foremost.

For more on Petrino and Louisville check out this piece on the CNN/Sports Illustrated site by Andy Staples and this one by Michael Rosenberg. 

Is your advisor a wolf? 

In keeping with our tradition for fine family entertainment on Christmas day, this year’s family movie outing was The Wolf of Wall Street.  Watching the film made me wonder what I’ve been missing by being a fee-only advisor all these years (just kidding).

Clearly I am not insinuating that if your financial advisor earns all or a substantial portion of their income from commissions and product sales that they also participate in dwarf tossing, consumption of mass quantities of drugs, lewd sex acts, or other forms of debauchery.  I do wonder if their measure of success is the same as that of the characters portrayed in the film, namely money.  Specifically money that inures to them from selling financial products to you.

While many advisors who sell financial products are competent professionals motivated by their client’s best interests, you always have to wonder if a particular investment, annuity, or insurance product is being recommended because it is the best product for you or rather because it is the most lucrative for the advisor.

As long as some financial services firms run sales contests for advisors and incent sales production this conflict will always be there.

My definition of success 

My definition of success is simple.  I am only successful as a financial advisor if my clients achieve success. 

I would venture to say that my closest circle of financial advisor colleagues, my NAPFA study group, would wholeheartedly agree with this definition.  My guess is that the bulk of my fellow fee-only NAPFA colleagues would as well.

If you are looking for a financial advisor to start off the New Year right check out this guide from NAPFA. 

Make sure that you clearly articulate your goals and your definition of financial success to your current financial advisor or to any advisor that you are considering working with.  Clear and open communication is a vital part of a successful client-financial advisor relationship.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions. 

Check out an online service like Personal Capital to manage all of your accounts all in one place.  Please check out our Resources page for more tools and services that you might find useful.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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A Feast of Thanksgiving Financial Links

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In our house Thanksgiving is all about having the five of us together and eating way too much, passing out in a food coma and then eating some more.  In between the food, family, football, shopping, or whatever it is that you do over this holiday weekend here are some links to some great financial blogs if you have the time to do a little reading.

Money

Must-read financial blogs

I recently attended the FINCON conference for financial bloggers in St. Louis and had a chance to connect and reconnect with some of these great bloggers.  This is a list of finance blogs that in my opinion offer great financial information and insights.

Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row

Consumerism Commentary

Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

Mom and Dad Money

The Dollar Stretcher

Frugal Rules

Free From Broke

AAAMP Finance Blog

Len Penzo dot Com

Modest Money

PT Money

Cash Money Life

Wisebread

Money Crashers

Good Financial Cents

The College Investor

The Reformed Broker

FiGuide

Wealthcare For Women

This is not in any way, shape, or form an exhaustive list and I’ve certainly omitted some outstanding blogs.  None the less, the list above provides a great start in terms of finance blogs you should consider adding to your reading list.

Thanks for the recognition 

I want to thank Crain’s Chicago Business for featuring this blog in their recent article 8 must-read (and locally written) finance blogs.  My blog was profiled in The Chicago Financial Planner: A self-starter’s money guideNote this link might require you to log-in to their free limited subscription option. 

Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, was kind enough to mention this blog as her top pick for investing blogs in a piece for AARP Personal Finance Blogs You Should Read.

I hope that you and your families and loved ones have a great Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the time spent together.

Please feel free to add any finance blogs or websites that you feel provide great information in the comment section below.

Please contact me at 847-506-9827 for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your investing and financial planning questions. Check out our Financial Planning and Investment Advice for Individuals page to learn more about our services.  

Photo credit:  Flickr

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