Am I Working With a Financial Planner or a Salesperson? Part I

Investment consultant, financial advisor, investment representative, and financial planner are all terms that are synonymous to the masses. In fact, many people refer to their financial advisor as their “financial person”.

The financial professional’s title may or may not be relevant. What could be far more important is the process that occurs during the transition from a prospective client to an actual client. The process that your financial professional undertakes will tell you everything you need to know about how they run their business and how they view you, the client.

So how do you know if you are working with an actual financial planner / financial advisor or if you are working with a glorified salesperson? In reality, it will not be hard to determine once you know what to look for.

A large number of financial salespeople are paid strictly on a commission. They will be paid when you purchase or sell investment products. If you feel like you are just a number and there is no specific plan designed around your personal situation, you should consider getting a second opinion from another financial professional.

Meeting with more than one financial professional in order to find the right fit for you is something we would strongly encourage everyone to do. Unfortunately, many prospective clients are blinded by the bling and sizzle that some financial professionals convey at the first introductory meeting.

We would recommend that prospective clients focus their attention on the financial professional and their support staff. Ultimately, it is these individuals that will be handling your financial life. Some prospective clients will get wrapped up or impressed by the appearance of the office or the associated surroundings.

Some financial advisors may have a welcoming lobby with comfortable chairs, refreshments, and a happy receptionist who is eager to greet you. These advisors are trying to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. Other advisors may have awards, education, or certifications in the lobby to demonstrate their professional abilities or credentials.

The financial professional or owner wants you to be focused on what they are trying to convey when you enter the office. They are trying to subconsciously communicate with you based on the way they have the lobby setup. However, the lobby and the associated décor are largely irrelevant. The primary focus should be about how detail oriented the people are that are working at the office upon your arrival.

These are just a few considerations that many people entering an office overlook. The other reason the lobby should generally be ignored is each experience entering the office may be different. A different person may greet you. The office may have been cleaned right before you entered the lobby and the second meeting it may have been two weeks since the office was cleaned.

The lobby of any office can be very deceiving and making significant decisions about your financial future based on appearances could be a major mistake. There are always outliers or sequences of events that could create a misleading experience.

Not every firm can be dissected accurately by their lobby. The focus should be on how you are treated, the attention to detail the support staff demonstrates in your presence, and whether or not you are comfortable with what you experience.
What really matters occurs in the next stage of the process. When you sit down in the advisor’s office everything you need to know about that advisor, their practice, and the way they view their clients will be made available to you if you know what to look for.

To Be Continued . . .