Commentary by Adam Cmejla
Open up a financial- or business-related newspaper, magazine or website and you’re bound to see an article that will offer to give some advice or perspective on a variety of financial topics.
Indeed, all of my articles have followed this same intention. A topic that is covered much less, though, is how to evaluate a financial professional or their firm and the differences between the many business models.
My next series of columns will attempt to do just that, and I sincerely hope readers find it both informative and that they aid people in better understanding our profession.
I’ve been told by many people that I’m not like a typical financial advisor they’ve experienced or what they’d expect out of a financial advisor. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but when I hear of some of the previous experiences of both clients that we work with and friends that I have, I tend to lean towards the former.
People that know me know that two of my core values are transparency and honesty, which is ironic given the often-time mistaken direct association of financial advisors and Wall Street.
Just as there is lack of transparency on Wall Street, though, I feel that there is also a lack of transparency and parody within our industry of providing financial advice and recommendations to the public.
I’ve often used the metaphor that our industry and plethora of business models make our profession “clear as mud.”
Whether it’s the laundry list titles that advisors operate under, the designations that you’ll see after advisors’ names, the names of the businesses that they operate under, the vehicles that they use for clients’ assets or the selling methods and tactics that are used to gain new clients, my goal and intention will be to lift the veil of our industry and give you a peek inside.
There are some both inside and outside of our profession that will use the defense “buyer beware” when it comes to making purchases, including starting a relationship with an advisor.
However, it’s hard for the buyer to beware when the buyer doesn’t even know what to be aware of when interacting with an advisor.
I’ve heard the phrase “I’m not sure what to even look for or what questions to ask” when having the discussion of evaluating our profession and learning about a financial advisor or their firm and how they do business.
My intention and goal is to at least give you the starting blocks and roadmap to either have that conversation with a potential financial advisor or learn more about the relationship you may already have with a person or their firm.