Financial Advisers need not be competent because most investors are not worth it!

Published: February 13, 2019 at 10:35 am

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I argue why there is no need for financial advisors to be competent because most investors are not worth it and the ones who are worth it do not need advisors! A few years ago, I was engaged in a debate with a colleague. I said, teachers should push themselves to become better and better otherwise they cannot set students standards to excel. She said: If the students do not push teachers, there will be no motivation for them to become better even if them themselves wanted to.
While there is truth or justification to both arguments, with age I feel she was right and this especially true of most investors. Most of them know nothing about portfolio management rely on luck when they assume things will turn our all right over the long term. They know nothing about risk management, nothing about conflict of interest (else they would know not to listen to a bank RM). All they want is piece-meal advice on best products, best stocks and best funds. There is no motivation to understand money management holistically. I could go on an on or you can just read a few posts here to know more. If there is one thing I have learned from nearly 7 years of blogging, it is most investor do not want to know or understand portfolio management. Ignorance is not a crime. Staying ignorant is.
Financial Advisers need not be competent because most investors are not worth it!
Given all this, there is no motivation for an advisor to push themselves beyond what they read in their certifications (which to begin with is not much). When you serve someone who cannot tell between good advice and bad, even a B-grade effort from the advisor is an overkill

What is the point here?

1: We must be responsible towards our money and keep learning. Not information, but knowledge
2: If we need to outsource money management then choose a conflict of interest free advisor who will not only help us invest and manage money, but also teach us along the way so we learn and can push them to advice better.
Here is a list of questions to ask a fee-only planner before signing up.
Unless investors push advisors by asking the right questions, there is no need for them to be competent. In every class there will only be a few bright students. That is enough. Their push is enough for any self-respecting teacher to dig deeper and teach better. Similarly, only a few clients would understand and appreciate the holistic financial planning process. They are enough to push any self-respecting advisor to learn more and serve better. All we can do is to ask, are we one such DIY investor, one such client or one such advisor?
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Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com

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  1. That hurts dear Professor. As a student of your blog, I can proudly say that you have taught me so much that I am pushing myself to get better everyday. I will repeat which I had said earlier, you are a good teacher.

    Although I would agree that some people want a simple one line answer, a novice like me has seen such people and I try to tell them a thing or that I have learned.

    Love begets love, a light ignites another, in a few years your teachings here will make many more take informed decisions.

    So keep on showering your knowledge upon us, keep educating us.

  2. dear pattu sir
    i have learned a lot from ur side except the technical charts.people needs one step solutions for their problems whether its mf, stocks etc , thats a general psychology
    .i have engaged a financial advisor , he was nice but i didn’t get a detailed report of my said mf investments after one year , like how much it gave returns etc etc ,meanwhile the next year renewal time for advisor came and i i decided not to renew it without getting a personal report of the same.

  3. Nowadays attention span is becoming less.
    Even if one is ready to help , he has to select the needy person who is capable of “listening”.
    Personal finance is not rocket science.Sooner this is appreciated by investors it is better.
    There are more resources now available in internet to educate. The investors are spoiled for choice in products.
    When disciple is ready ,Guru will appear.

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