I am borrowing from Notre Dame here. But even USC and Michigan fans will accept this as a universal concept.
Last year the University of Notre Dame celebrated 175 years since its founding. There was a lot to celebrate — far more than the 7 Heisman Trophy winners since Angelo Bertelli in 1943. More notably, Notre Dame literally considers its greatest accomplishment as establishing itself upon the principal, “A Force For Good”. These were the words uttered by the Catholic priest founders of the University in the winter of 1842.
“A Force For Good” is what the whole world needs, yes?! A Force For Good is also needed desperately in financial services — but in ways not immediately evident.
Of course, most obvious, we need the Fiduciary Rule to be defined — in English — and present and enforced in our ALL our relationships where anyone is advising us on our financial affairs (more on the importance of the Fiduciary Rule in a future edition).
But less obvious — or practiced — is that YOUR ADVISER needs to be “A Force For Good” in YOUR LIFE. I mean this literally: you need to see and feel that the advisory fees you pay are really making a positive difference in your life.
What is the checklist for determining you are getting your money’s worth?
#1. Sitting down as often as is necessary and defining your short-, intermediate- and long-term GOALS. You should be reminded that your goals will likely change over time!! This is not a one-and-done!
#2. Understanding the process you will follow to assist you in accomplishing your short-, intermediate- and long-term goals. If you don’t understand what your financial adviser is saying….ASK! And if he or she does not give you answers — in plain English — then tell them to hit the road.
#3. A truly good adviser will meet you where you are at in your life. One size does not fit all. Fees should be representative of the amount of assets you have AND the amount of time it takes to answer all of your questions. Extra time often means extra fees — so make sure you (and your family) get a bang for your buck.
#4. Understanding how the design of your portfolio is balanced toward the appropriate amount of risk for YOU. What does that mean?? It means: Can you sleep at night?
#5. A Defined time frame. Plus definitions of all of the investment choices in your portfolio and the tax consequences.
#6. Knowing that your spouse, kids, parents or whoever else is important to you are also being educated as to what THEY need to know in order to make the financial plan successful.
Have you heard ALL of these things recently from your adviser?? Because there’s even more.
For today, what does “A Force For Good” mean to YOU? …Fairness? Trustworthiness? Worth the expense? Availability? Flexibility? Appropriately qualified?
Make sure that the person who you are paying for financial advice can recite your definition of “A Force For Good”. And if you feel otherwise or know a friend who feels otherwise, by all means please give them my checklist. In the right situations I would be happy to speak with them as well.
I truly believe I am “A Force For Good” for my clients — and my checklist is a good way to keep me in line as well!