My first brush with fame was in the summer of 1986, when the brilliant Alan Abelson referred to me sympathetically in Barron’s.
“Forgive them for they do not know,” Abelson artfully wrote, drawing form the New Testament in mentioning a story I had written about a small-company IPO. The slight is my cross forever to bear.
In 1986, penny stock boiler rooms were rampant, and I was new to covering Wall Street. I, a boy from Queens, was befriended by a 30-year-old “investment banker” with a Porsche convertible and stories about a company that made a revolutionary new type of speedboat. Abelson wrote that weekend that the boat-engine company’s IPO was not such a great deal.
The story about the things financial advisors don’t want anyone to know is written with the same innocence as my story about the boat-maker. Pity the poor consumer who relies on its advice.
The No. 1 thing financial advisors are said to not want you to know is that they are “checking you out first. ”You're not the only one doing due diligence,” says the article, published at The Fiscal Times. “Financial advisers are screening you as a prospective client.
Of course, one of the nine secrets planners do not want consumers to know is,” If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Another is that “multiple transactions that incur fees and commissions should send off warning bells.” And what story about how to choose a financial planner would be complete without telling you that “a fee-only advisor reduces the potential for a conflict of interest.”
The writer of this story, on her website, explains her qualifications to advise consumer on hiring a financial advisors thusly: “From the art of flirting to the Fed's next interest rate move, I've covered a range of lifestyle, business, real estate and home and garden issues.”
That’s who is telling consumers about how to find a financial advisor and the “secrets” advisors don’t want consumers to know.
Of course, the real secrets investment advisors don’t want consumers to know is how many clients they have, how much money they manage, and how many clients fired them in each of the last five years. They don’t want you to know about how much continuing education they must get to maintain their certifications, and how hard it is to get certified in the first place. They don’t want you to know how many hours a year they will work personally with you to justify their annual fee or what they will charge you for a comprehensive financial plan.
Much of this information is available publicly for many independent advisors in a Form ADV and a quick search of the Web. But the story doesn’t tell you that.
For the most part, financial journalism in America is a joke. Most financial reporters are young and have no money. They simply have no experience in making wealth management decisions. They may be good writers but they usually are writing about a topic about which they know little.
The paucity of good financial journalism presents an opportunity for advisors.
You, as a professional advisor, know the truth. Producing your own content about the real secrets of financial advisors—creating true transparency—will serve you well in marketing.
Write a blog post about your money management style. Post tweets about what you are thinking. Tweet articles daily about what you’re reading that you like (and don’t). Create a video telling prospects how much of your time they will get every year when they hire you.
Tell consumers what you do to maintain your professional designations, how much it costs for a comprehensive plan and who needs one. Post a PowerPoint presentation on Slideshare about recent economic events. Post a Slidecast showing consumers how to read your Form ADV.
There are dozens of real “secrets” you can tell consumers that will be helpful and attract new business.
The beauty and burden of social media is that it makes everyone a publisher and gives everyone a soapbox. Use it wisely.
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