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Salesman or advisor?


Along your way to finding a prince of a financial advisor, you might have to kiss a few frogs.

I hate buying clothes or cars, and it’s not just because of the financial cost. I hate spending my time shopping.

So, the last time I bought a car, I looked around on the internet (like most car buyers do these days). I was looking for a car I thought might be the proverbial right car at the right price. Then I took a deep breath, prayed for patience and walked in the dealership. How painful was this going to be?

I was expecting the old, “Mr. Moore what do we have to do to get you in this car today?” closing techniques. What I got was Larry.

Larry was a nice young guy with three kids and a wife to support. He listened to what I wanted, answered my questions, gave me space and let me decide to buy. He didn’t rush me. I felt well-respected and well-served by Larry.

And I bought a car from him. And given the chance, I’d do it again.

My point is that I was treated the way I wanted to be treated (didn’t someone call that the golden rule?) and all the while I knew Larry needed to sell me the car or he’d be wasting his time. But Larry made it more about me than about him. At least, that’s how I felt.

I hate to admit it, but too many folks in the financial services business are in it for the short-term sale, rather than getting it right for the client long-term.

My observation is that most would-be advisor clients hate to be treated as sales targets, and the high-pressure salesman – advisor actually does himself no good. He might make a short-term sale, but he won’t have a long-term client. He’ll have a customer who bought one time and never answers his phone calls again.

Look for the following qualities as you shop for an advisor.

He asks good questions, then listens. If someone simply launches into a product pitch for an investment, a retirement plan or an insurance product, that’s a sign you’re in the room with a salesman.

She has a process, not just products. Financial products are the useful tools with which we build financial plans. But the product is not the plan. Any advisor you consider hiring should be able to describe her financial planning process to you, and show you examples of her work.

He has satisfied clients. Most financial advisors are prohibited by their regulators from using testimonials in their marketing. But you probably know someone who uses an advisor. Ask your friends if they use a financial advisor and if they are happy with him.

You feel a sense of trust. At some point, you’ve got to have this. It takes longer for some people than others, but it’s a must.

She has experience and training. This should go without saying. She needs to know what she’s doing.

No one advisor is right for everyone. You’re looking for a certain connection or chemistry that will vault one above any others.

If you haven’t found that person yet, keep looking. He’s out there.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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