The Worth of Sage Advice Part I: “Obvious Man” Takes on the Wealth Advisor World

Let’s begin by dispensing with the obvious. As financial advisors, we’ve got some serious skin in the game when we propose that there is great value to be had by turning to a financial advisor to help you manage the wealth of your life.

Still, just because a statement is obvious, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worth saying anyway. If you don’t believe us, take it from Non Sequitur’s “Obvious Man,” as he defends our nation’s (and our own!) proclivity for questioning authority.

So yeah, of course, with all our heart and soul, we believe: Most investors are better off working with a financial advisor in lieu of going it alone.

And yet, we’d be disappointed in you as an American if you didn’t question why we believe this, and how we support the claim. We also would be remiss if we didn’t point out another “no duh” point: Not all advisors are equal to the challenge of justifying their worth.

In other words, it’s important to not throw a dart at just any advisor, but rather to identify one who is adding so much real value to your life and your wealth that it’s, well, obvious.

So why should you find such an advisor, where do you look for her and how do you assess his worth? In the next few blog posts, we’re going to help you think through these critical questions. To set the stage, let’s begin with some favorite quotes we’ve gathered that reflect our own ideas about the responsibilities and requirements we would suggest for those who would advise others about their life’s wealth.

“Good advice is priceless. Not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Not imaginary, but practical. Not based on fear, but on possibility. Not designed to make you feel better, designed to make you better. Seek it out and embrace the true friends that care enough to risk sharing it. I’m not sure what takes more guts—giving it or getting it.” – Seth Godin @thisissethsblog

“You don’t hire a real financial advisor because you aren’t smart enough. You hire one because you aren’t an objective 3rd party.” – Carl Richards, @Behavior Gap

“A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the marketplace. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior … the level of conduct for fiduciaries [has] been kept at a level higher than that trodden by the crowd.” – Benjamin Cardozo, New York Court of Appeals Judge (1928)

“It seems that we’re almost more likely to go on Angie’s List to check out our plumber than we are to go on the SEC’s website to investigate the background of the individual with whom we are about to entrust our life savings … There’s something wrong with this picture.” – Mary Jo White, SEC Chair, @SEC_Investor_Ed

“The underlying tenet is that individual investors should not have to have a Ph.D. in regulatory science to understand their advisor’s responsibility to them.” – Sallie Krawcheck, @SallieKrawcheck

“We don’t expect people to fly their own airplanes or take out their kids’ appendixes, and yet we expect them to manage their retirement portfolios. In my careers I’ve done all three, and investing is by far the hardest.” – William Bernstein, MD, PhD

Do you agree with what you’re seeing so far? Stay tuned for additional insights throughout the month.

Sage Serendipity: Did you know that Non-Sequitur’s “Obvious Man” is based on a real-life hero? Comic strip author Wiley Miller created him as a memorial to his friend Mark Cohen. It’s good to know his spirit lives on.

Sheri Iannetta Cupo, CFP®, Founding Partner (Retired) & Director
[email protected]

SAGEbroadview Wealth Management is a Fee Only firm offering ongoing financial planning and portfolio management, with tax planning woven carefully throughout our services. We work virtually across the country, with offices in Farmington, CT, Morristown, NJ, and Burlington, MA.