Advisors occasionally have current or former financial professionals as clients. There’s a tendency to think that because they’re insiders, they know the markets inside and out and have minimal use for your advice. This worry’s usually unfounded.
They’re likely with you for several reasons:
- Tunnel vision: If they specialize, they need someone to do big-picture financial planning.
- Time is money: Their jobs keep them busy. If they manage other people’s money at a mutual fund company they may not have the time for their own investments.
- Peace of mind: Managing their own money means staying on top of daily developments. They need someone to look after their portfolio so they can concentrate on their jobs.
- Second opinion: They’re good at managing money, but they realize they need a sounding board.
- Legal requirement: Their employers may require them to use intermediaries because of their access to sensitive information.
Here are 10 rules for working with financial professionals:
#1. Politely assume they know nothing
Explain the rationale behind each product or service, preceded by: “I’m sure you are aware….”
Why: The product may not be on their radar screen.
#2. Learn their style
Establish how they want to keep in touch. You have ideas. They have ideas. Do you call directly or schedule calls through their assistants?
Why: Their money’s very important to them, but you don’t want to become a distraction.
#3. Draw them out
You’ll bond faster if you learn when they’re in the mood to talk investments.
How: “What was the best investment you ever made?” This answer lets you know about their future receptivity.
#4. Be brief
Explain why you’re calling, the action you recommend and your rationale. They should develop confidence in your judgment.
Why: Busy executives want people to get straight to the point.
#5. Long-term focus
Some professionals like to trade. But that’s a tough way to reach a comfortable retirement. During reviews, return the focus to the big picture.
Why: They’re hiring you to do the job you do for others. Don’t assume they have long- term planning covered.
#6. Be upfront on fees
As with all clients, get everything fee-related out in the open.
Why: In their job they may trade at institutional levels. They understand you deserve to be paid.
#7. Be accountable
They take your suggestions. You place their orders. Politely insist on regular face-to-face reviews. Accountability builds credibility.
Why: If your conservative strategies work out and their impulsive ideas don’t, they may follow your lead.
#8. Be confident
Ask for large amounts of money. Believe in your ideas. Explain the assumptions behind why you feel it’s a great idea.
Why: People often defer to authority. They are surrounded by that type at work. You’re an advisor, so take the lead.
#9. Address prejudices
They may dislike a product because it went south when they owned it years ago. They may not like certain money managers because they’re rivals. Get them focused on the rationale for your suggestions.
Why: If they liked hedge funds you would discourage them from putting 100% of their money in them. If they dislike something and you feel it’s good, take the opportunity to make the case.
#10. Follow the rules
If they’re considered insiders, know the rules governing their investment activity. They may need to wait a set time before buying or selling certain stocks.
Why: They’ll get into serious trouble if they step out of line. Help them comply.
Here are some tips when the roles are revered and you’re the client:
#1. Let your advisor do her job
Don’t micromanage. They’ve learned about your needs, let them deliver their best suggestions.
#2. Don’t finish your advisor’s sentences
If you and your spouse are getting a portfolio review, don’t translate or jump ahead. Let the advisor follow their procedure.
#3. Let the advisor make some money
Often employees get significant fee discounts on the firm’s products. Utilize a mix where you’re paying respectable fees.