Whenever someone asks me “what do you do for a living,” I have a momentary mental pause and recall the dozens of canned and insincere answers that I have heard other advisors spew. You know the ones…..the “elevator speeches” (ones so rehearsed and brief that one could deliver it to a prospect in an elevator). I have heard everything from “I am my client’s personal CFO” to “I take a holistic approach to financial planning for high net worth individuals, families, and small businesses.” These types of statements are taught by motivational speakers at conferences and have always struck a nerve with me because instead of just answering the person’s question, they are designed to “sell” the prospect on meeting with the advisor. Why must that advisor assume that the person wants to meet with them or even NEEDS to meet with them? Can a human being sometimes just want to know what occupation another human being chose as a means to support themselves and their family? Why must they be given a sales pitch for asking that question? When I hear an answer like this, at least let me leave with a brand new car or a timeshare.
It is with that backdrop that I began this blog – wallstreetsteward.com. The purpose of this blog is to bring fresh ideas and financial educational to a world with a hyper-sensitive “B.S. meter.” If you appreciate someone being 100% genuine in their communication, then this blog is for you. If you desire “sugarcoating” or meaningless verbiage, then I hope this blog drives you away just as quickly as it drew you in.
Consider this your own personal “Matrix Moment” where I (Morpheus) offer you (Neo) two pills – the red pill or the blue pill. If you enjoy brutal honesty in the financial world, then take the red pill, sit back and enjoy yourself. If not, let us hope that the blue pill will provide comfort as you return to the plethora of other boring financial websites/blogs.
I realize that with this type of challenge, questions arise. So, before you start looking for “the catch,” let’s hit a few of these questions in the mouth. Some questions I would have for someone who starts yet another blog would be “Why you? Why are you so important? Who are you? Why are you unique? Why should I keep reading?” My answers to these questions can be summarized by my value proposition. “I try to be a good steward of my clients’ assets by acting as a fiduciary.” That’s it….no personal CFO stuff, no holistic approach nonsense, no fluff. A steward – that is my brand. That is my value proposition. That is why I am different. However, in order to understand what my statement means, we need to define some words.
What is a steward? A steward is “one who manages the property, finances, or affairs of another”. This involves one selfless person acting in the best interests of another. Seems very simple, and yet it is so rare in the financial industry. I can hear you thinking “why is that” as you stare at this computer screen….the answer is the almighty greenback. Look down at your keyboard and look at the button for the number 4….see that symbol above it? That is what makes MANY advisors stray and what makes me different. See, every advisor has to make a choice early on in their careers whether they will serve their own interests or the interests of the people who trust them. From my experience, VERY few will choose you over themselves. A steward would choose YOU. I would choose YOU. I DID choose YOU…and that is why I started this blog.
Now that we understand what a steward is, let us delve into that other word that I used. The one that made your eyes cross…..FIDUCIARY. A fiduciary is “a person bound to act for another’s benefit, as a trustee in relation to his beneficiary." After you finish law school, you might see that this word has a similar meaning to “steward.” The difference is in the legal obligation portion of the definition. A fiduciary is BOUND by law to act in someone else’s best interests, but a steward will CHOOSE to act in that person’s best interest. This is “Free Will” versus “Predestination” for you Bible scholars.
So, when I say “I try to be a good steward of my clients’ assets by acting as a fiduciary,” I am saying, in layman’s terms (whoever layman is!), that “I am choosing to act in my clients’ best interests in ALL THINGS, and just to make sure I hold myself to that, I am submitting myself to a legal standard of measurement.” Is that good enough for you? If so, welcome to wallstreetsteward.com.
photo credit: Southern Light Photography