Knowledge is the most democratic source of power. Alvin Toffler
Hey all you advisors out there we have been trying to contact, you should wake up proud, positive, and thankful for you are in demand! You are in an industry that’s headed out to sea, caught in its regulatory riptide where advisors are displaced by ROBOs, BOGOs, and HOBOs, or are being told to work for free or that they cannot handle smaller clients. To these problems I say bunko!
We have been trying hard to get advisors to listen to our value proposition and it’s been challenging since these same advisors are getting similar calls from every financial service purveyor out there. I know firsthand that it is so maddening to be hounded but I implore you to listen to some of the companies, especially if you’ve found yourself at a dead end. You old dawgs ought to thank your lucky stars people are after you. Yes, I can make this quasi-offensive declaration since I too am no spring chicken. And being like a fine wine I could not be happier about the industry in which I serve and the age at which I am able to do it, all while being in high demand. Trust me folks, I have buddies, and you probably do too, with plenty of education, credentials and experience who are getting pushed out of the work force entirely or demoted to lesser compensation and job title solely because they’ve hit a certain age. I wish I could talk some of them into joining our industry. Yes, we could find work for them in the form of clients who need them and there are no age discrimination on our end.
That’s right, clients need an advisor. Clients everywhere are looking for a fellow trustworthy American of similar experience and caliber to help champion, coach, and guide them during the 4th quarter of the game, arguably the most important phase, and a fun one where the next generation is taking shape and managing the estate, the family’s financial core, and deciding what to do with that.
Why is this need so great? I will give you the behind-the-scenes dirty little secret right now. For a professional group that is supposed to help families succeed in succession, we don’t do a great job of that (for) ourselves. It reminds me of doctors who are so busy taking care of patients that they fail to take care of themselves. I have talked to really big money guys who target firms like ours for acquisition or “roll up”. I know how they value us. We have vendors out there that pretend to offer a gateway for succession but I have yet to get a single reply on hundreds of attempts at meeting local firms like ours who apparently are looking to exit or merge. We have witnessed at recent conferences attended by thousands of financial advisors, youngsters in college being paraded across the stage as the next generation of financial caretakers in a desperate attempt by custodians (like TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Fidelity and others) to keep the train rolling.
Here is the issue: there is a paradigm shift happening right now. If you don’t know what that is, it was predicted in detail by a guy named Alvin Toffler in his book Power Shift. Technology, media, saturation, knowledge, force, wealth, productivity – it’s all happening just like he said it would. It used to be that American Express, Smith Barney, or Northwestern Mutual would be desirable employment opportunities to look at right out of college. Today, there are fewer of these firms and the remaining ones may not even pay enough to help a young person afford their rent. So, how can I make the claim that demand for advisors is high and the supply of advisors is low, which in Econ 101 means prices should go up? Prices have been going down, not up. Toffler will tell you this is because technology allows scalability and scalability enables exponential productivity, so a person can handle many more other persons than in the old days. I could facetime a client right now in Singapore as if I was right there in the room with them. I could use technology to monitor thousands of client’s portfolios every single day. And the list goes on.
So why do I say that clients need us more than ever, despite the trend of downward pressure on prices, old advisors walking away from the industry, and young bucks not entering the industry at a pace that we need? Here is my golden goose secret reason why: a human needs a human to help make their purchases and investments, which are more often than not based in emotion. In turn, the human needs what the computer can do to help us rationalize our emotional decision. It’s safe to say that we all do it, at least with very big buying decisions. We buy based on our emotion and prove we were right or wrong using science or technology.
Think I am losing it? Try this. Next time you strongly consider going to an investment or estate workshop, tell me you don’t Google the moderator immediately. If there’s a dinner involved, tell me you don’t go online to look at the menu first. If there are multiple invitations, tell me you don’t compare locations online almost before considering the professionals involved. There, we haven’t even been asked to buy anything yet and technology allows us to begin building a case for taking the next step in the buying process.
And let me cap it off with this, take boomers who are trying to make the right decisions on Social Security and Medicare, money we are owed come hell or high water, right? Make a bad decision there and it could cost a family many thousands. Just Google it and go solve it yourself online for free then go get a good night’s rest. If you are like me you wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink. You’d ask someone to be sure first. That’s where the advisors come in. And that’s just one of hundreds of decisions we need to make in the 4th quarter that can make all the difference.
I am only getting warmed up. I have so much more to talk about on this subject, but my carpal tunnel is acting up. I will get back later.