A sleazy salesperson? Someone trying to upscale you on risky investments you shouldn’t have? Someone you can’t trust? Who is it that you picture when you think of a financial advisor? Are you lucky enough to have a financial advisor you like? Or do you not have one for fear that you will end up with a stereotypical one that is described as so above?
While you may think advisors are all about the markets, glam and game, their typical days are a bit different than that. A good advisor is more focused on planning, not performance. (Ask your advisor about diversification next meeting to explain that last line). What I mean though is even though they need to maintain all the licenses and have the technical know-how of financial products and markets, the actual job is a bit different. It is much more relational and sometimes not at all what the public thinks about.
A couple years ago a colleague mentioned a former client. The first time he saw her they were strangers. He went to her bare bones apartment in inner-city Toronto, in the low-income neighbourhood of Parkdale. When arriving at her apartment, he found a very lonely, dirty apartment, covered with cigarette ash trays, smoke, and cat hair. Clutter was the name of the game. The superficial advisor would walk away there, assuming they were not a ‘qualified prospect’ while the good advisor would sit down and do their job. ‘Know your client’ starts here. The two of them chatted for 2 1/2 hours about travelling, he explained the life insurance policy she had, taken out by her parents when she was younger, and explained the importance of naming a beneficiary on the policy, as she currently had none. She thanked him, enjoyed the chat, but didn’t make any changes or additions to her policy or hr financial plan. Over the years this man always followed up on her. They chatted about life, travel and so forth. She never made changes, he accepted that. He jokingly would always nag her that it really did make sense to add a beneficiary. However, it was her call. Years later, dozens of appointments with a no-profit client later, customer service was still this advisor’s most important trait.
He received a phone call one day. Edna, we’ll call her, was in the hospital. It didn’t look good. ‘Do I still have time to change that policy?’. He was touched that he even thought to call her from the hospital. Of course. he said, and was in the hospital that same afternoon to have the very simple form filled out. She passed away in the hospital a day later. If he had not of picked up his phone, it may have been too late. If he had delayed going to see her, it would have been too late. Her money would have gone into the estate and perhaps would have been tied up for months. Instead, her sister received 300,000 dollars tax-free. Her sister, not sure what to do with this, told Charles, we’ll call him, that if he was good enough for her sister, he was good enough for her, and she invested the benefit with him. This unqualified client from Parkdale and turned out into one of his best clients. This solid advisor knew that as a professional, everyone deserves excellent treatment, and that a sale every appointment is not necessarily the proper philosophy to the job.
These and many more like it are what actually happens on the day in the life of a financial advisor. The payout is sometimes not for years, but it is those coffee chats and time spent talking about travelling, or whatever, that is what they do, much of the time.
What are some memorable moments with your advisor? How did you find them? Share your stories here as well!