When it comes to professional investment or financial planning advice, clients want to work with someone who is both competent and committed to serving their best interests, someone that honors and values integrity as a core belief. In short, they want someone they can trust. They want a fiduciary.
Maybe you’ve just received an inheritance, or you’ve decided to get your financial house in order by developing a comprehensive financial plan, or you’re preparing for retirement and you’re seeking the guidance of financial planner. Whatever the reason for contacting me, I often get asked the same questions:
Q - Can I trust you to look out for my best interests?
A - Trust is what clients crave and want most and it’s why I choose to run Spiritus in a fiduciary capacity. 'Fiduciary’ means a person in a position of trust, looking out for your best interests. I run my financial planning practice as a fiduciary which means I have a legal and ethical obligation to serve my clients best interests. Thanks to Wall Street’s game of smoke of mirrors, the word fiduciary unfortunately doesn’t mean much to most people. The more confused people get, the happier the big Wall Street firms are.
Q - Will you look at me as yet another customer to sell product to or will you provide me the honest and objective advice and analysis I need to make smart and informed financial decisions?
A - I make recommendations by carefully evaluating various investment opportunities and planning strategies available to meet a client’s goals without having to deal with the sales incentives and company mandates that non-fiduciary advisors have to accommodate. The big Wall Street firms strategy is to target a less informed, less financially savvy client so their financial sales people masquerading as ‘advisors’ can sell them products loaded with commissions. This is the exact opposite of a fiduciary in that the investment strategies developed by these salespeople are in the best interests of themselves, not their client.
Q - Will you put on the friendly act in order to gain my business and then wander off never to be heard from again?
A - Part of my fiduciary role is keeping clients apprised of their progress towards reaching their goals. For investment management clients – we’ll meet once a quarter either in person or by phone or Skype to review investment results and measure quarterly performance. For my financial planning clients – we’ll meet three months after a plan has been completed to make sure implementation is going smoothly and make any changes needed. Next, we’ll meet at least annually to monitor progress. Here’s a sample progress report which is used to evaluate annual results.
Q - Do you really care about the clients you advise or are they just numbers on a spreadsheet?
A - A good portion of my business are referrals from satisfied clients, so you’ll always be highly valued and treated with the respect you deserve. In order to refer me to their friends, clients have to have full trust in me. Trust is a precondition for any client-advisor relationship. In fact, studies reveal that the #1 selection criteria investors apply when choosing an advisor is whether the person seems trustworthy. What I work hard on everyday is replacing that vague sense of trust clients generally settle for with real and authentic confidence.
Q - If I’m loyal to you, will you return that loyalty by avoiding any conflicts of interest?
A - Prior to any investment strategy being designed and deployed, a comprehensive financial plan is developed that forms the foundation for reaching short-term as well as long-term financial goals. From there, a careful due diligence process of selecting investments appropriate to your risk tolerance and long-term goals is executed. As a fiduciary, I will always look out for your best interests.
My intention is to attract clients that seek out an advisor providing a fiduciary relationship. Clients that have gained a level of financial intelligence and are informed enough to distinguish between a smooth sounding sales pitch and strategic financial guidance.
When it comes to choosing a financial professional, look for the person willing and eager to practice as a fiduciary. This will provide you the peace of mind you desire and the foundation for developing and nurturing a relationship built and established on trust, not just investment returns.