The Value of Real Advisors

Ten years ago I made the decision to commit to a weekly financial article. My publisher warned me that producing a new piece every week would be very difficult and I should seriously consider whether I was ready for the commitment. I assured him I was up for the challenge.

Initially the writing was fun and exciting. I had many of life’s experiences from which I could draw financial parallels, but as the months drug on, the challenge grew greater. I remember many times during that first year looking at the clock at two in the morning wondering if there were any ideas left. I would ask my wife for advice and she would encourage me, and remind me of the nice comments I was beginning to receive from my few readers. Somehow I would find a way to dig back into my memories and pull something else out.

I began writing because I had read thousands of financial articles myself and had often been disappointed to find that many were “ghost written,” evidenced by the required disclaimer at the end. Regulations in the financial industry are very stringent, and nothing can be put out to the public without having been approved by compliance departments whose job it is to verify that nothing is said which is untrue, misleading, unfair etc.. The review process is arduous and most financial advisors find it easier to pick from a library of pre-written material.

In a digital, robotic world, people spend more time interacting with computers than with other human beings. Financial services are no different and increasingly, real human advisors are being replaced by machines, digital responses and boilerplate answers. There is value in these systems, but having lived through many recessions, political disasters, and market declines, I have learned that when you are facing the financial uncertainties of life, nothing can replace a real human being at your side.

I chuckle when sometimes even my own mom asks if I wrote a particular article. I remind her that if my name is on it, I wrote it and take full responsibility for it. It isn’t easy, but I feel it is important. In my opinions I am not always going to be right, but I will always be me.

I have heard many sad stories sitting in my conference room as people have come in seeking advice. More often than not, they began with turning financial decisions over to a machine, a boilerplate system, or some analyst team back East. Like in medicine, there is nothing quite like looking your personal doctor in the eye, that doctor who has known you and your family for years, and getting his or her heart felt opinion about the course of action that best suits your needs.

The financial world is scary for many and so long as I am able to continue advising and writing, I will do my best to help my clients and readers navigate it, from a real human’s point of view.