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Turn off the Financial Entertainers!

At times, we encounter educated professionals who are under the impression that financial planners are only for folks who don’t understand wealth management – people who have never made any investments, have little money in savings, and have never heard about the 401(k) myth or how to retire early. But the truth is, the vast majority of physicians, executives and other high-level professionals need the guidance of a qualified financial advisor as well.

Unfortunately, what we have seen time and time again is that too many high earners rely on the advice of financial entertainers on television and radio – people they have never met, who don’t know anything about their unique financial profiles. This happened recently when one client, who we will call “Beth,” asked if we would be interested in speaking with her brother, a successful doctor. Beth’s brother was polite, but told us that he did not need our financial planning advice because he listened to a popular money management radio host. “I get all the advice I need from him,” he said.

That’s so unfortunate, because of one simple fact that comes as a surprise to many people: Most financial entertainers in the media are not even licensed financial planners. It’s true! If someone who offers financial advice for profit is not licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), then they are not beholden to government regulation – and frankly, that’s how they get away with providing so much unfettered advice.

Then, there are board certifications. If a financial advisor is not certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP®), then there is no guarantee he has met the rigorous professional standards outlined by the CFP Board. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional is required to adhere to principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence where it concerns clients’ financial affairs. Licenses and certifications matter, whether you are seeking an advisor to help you learn how to amass substantial wealth or simply help you learn how to retire early. This is what we tell high earners who ask us about taking advice from financial entertainers.

Think about what it would look like if the tables were turned. Can you imagine getting medical treatment from a doctor who publicly displayed the disclaimer, “Dr. Smith is not licensed to practice medicine; your visit is for informational and entertainment purposes only.” Of course not! The same goes for legal services; what defendant would hire an attorney who is not licensed to practice law? Would you hire someone who told you, “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV”?

If the answer is no, ask yourself: Why would you take seriously the recommendations of an unlicensed financial planner? Sometimes, their advice is consistent with what a licensed financial planner would offer – but if you have never consulted with a licensed financial planner, how would you know the difference?

If you are a high-level professional, you should never settle for someone who plays a financial advisor on TV. You should only trust an advisor who is:

  • Licensed
  • Insured
  • Regulated

Now, those three qualifications may sound a little bit like your local bank. While it is true that the bank is licensed, insured and regulated, it is still not designed to be your primary resource for retirement planning. The bank may be great at delivering banking services, but that does not qualify your young banking services clerk to provide you with advice on investments, asset management and how to retire early. It just isn’t in his skill set – but it is in the skill set of a licensed, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. To learn more, contact us today.