Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Roles Need Defin­ing

“It’s a great idea, how­ever …”

The Suit - - Contents -

That short and in­com­plete sen­tence sums up how Tracy Ann Miller CFP®, CEO and chief port­fo­lio of­fi­cer of Port­fo­lio Wealth Ad­vi­sors, LLC, head­quar­tered in Ok­la­homa City, OK, views the cur­rent dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a na­tion-wide, uni­form fidu­ciary stan­dard gov­ern­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of all types of fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors.

“It is an idea that has a lot of merit, but also has a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties,” Miller said, not­ing that much of the dif­fi­culty comes from within the in­dus­try it­self. “The in­dus­try needs to put aside its dif­fer­ences and step up and do what is right for our in­di­vid­ual clients.”

Miller be­lieves that clear and dis­tinct def­i­ni­tions of the var­i­ous roles within the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try are needed. As ex­am­ples, she cites that pro­fes­sion­als within the in­dus­try will de­scribe their work to clients by say­ing, “I am an ad­vi­sor,” or “I am an ac­coun­tant,” or “I am a money man­ager,” or “I am an in­surance agent” – but most clients have lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of those roles.

“All of th­ese terms can re­late to the ex­act same ac­tiv­ity in any given in­stance, so it is no won­der peo­ple are con­fused. From that point of view, es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional uni­form fidu­ciary stan­dard might make sense and clear things up,” Miller pointed out. “There sim­ply is too much jar­gon in our in­dus­try that our clients do not un­der­stand. If we don’t work on clean­ing that up, we are not go­ing to make any progress.”

She said that what clients do clearly un­der­stand after the fi­nan­cial de­ba­cle of 2007 to 2009, is that they are trans­parency-minded. They want to know ex­actly how much they are pay­ing in fees.

“And rightly so,” Miller agreed. “The Great Re­ces­sion put a big dent in the trust level peo­ple had in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try,” she said, ex­plain­ing, “The low-in­ter­est en­vi­ron­ment after the Great Re­ces­sion shifted in­vest­ing away from banks over to in­surance com­pa­nies of­fer­ing var­i­ous types of prod­uct so­lu­tions to cre­ate long-term in­come streams.” Miller be­lieves that what was aimed at serv­ing needs and de­creas­ing con­fu­sion has ac­tu­ally only made things even more dif­fi­cult for Joe the Con­sumer to un­der­stand. “The prod­ucts and ser­vices avail­able to­day are as dif­fer­ent from what was of­fered in the past as the car phone from 30 years ago is to the smart­phone of to­day.”

That is why she in­sists on reg­u­lar plan­ning and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with her clients, build­ing a plat­form al­low­ing to her to fore­cast their needs and de­ter­mine what will help meet those needs. She coun­sels all ad­vi­sors work­ing for her firm to em­ploy flex­i­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods – whether they be FaceTime, Skype, email, Face­book mes­sag­ing, text mes­sages, tele­phone calls or good old-fash­ioned face-to­face meet­ings in the of­fice – be­cause each client has a dif­fer­ent pre­ferred method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Miller em­pha­sized, “It’s like what Dwight Eisen­hower is quoted for say­ing: ‘Plans are use­less, but plan­ning is in­dis­pens­able.’”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.