I often have conversations with friends of friends when I'm out socially that often start with an introduction like, "this is Dave, he manages my money," or "he's a financial planner." I shake hands and say "nice to meet you - what do you do?" At this point the person tells me they're a contractor, or an engineer, or a teacher, physician, or "I own such-and-such business." They tell me a little more, and I ask a few questions as we make polite conversation.
I've noticed that very few people ask me what I actually do as an asset manager. Now, maybe it's perfectly clear what I do because everyone reads our weekly newsletter. But I suspect there's probably some confusion, because often, when people call in to see about working with me, they say, "this is what I need/want - do you do that?" Some examples: "I'm thinking about switching jobs and need help navigating the benefits," or "I just inherited money from my great-aunt and I'm not sure what to do with it," or, "I just had my first grandchild and I want to set up an account for them." For others it's that they received a life insurance notice that their premium is increasing, and they need to know whether to put more in or cancel the policy, or it's a Fortune 500 employee who is eligible to receive stock option grants, and wants to know whether to pay off the house, invest that in retirement or buy a second home.
These are just a few of the broad variety of questions we get, and they always end with, "do you do that?" or, "can you help me with that?" Our answer is, yes.
If you've worked with my team long enough, you know I always say that, except for our first 30, the other 400 or so families we work with came to us from another advisor/planner/broker/registered rep/insurance agent, who was working with them on whatever scenario was at hand. At some point, something triggered that person to seek a second opinion. It may not have been anything that other person did wrong, because there are a lot of great people out there in this industry who work hard for their clients just like our team does. It could be as simple as wanting to make sure you're on the right path, or wanting to diversify your assets among advisors, because, what if one of them is Bernie Madoff? This is another comment we hear all the time, even from long-term clients who keep an account at Fidelity or Merrill Lynch because they want a backup plan in case someone's a shyster. (Or because their brother-in-law works there.) I get that. I do.
If there's one thing I want you to hear today, it's that it's okay (and I'll never think less of you) to just come out and ask me, "Dave, is this something you do/could help me with?" We welcome those questions, and I do realize that just as we all might think we understand each other's occupations, I know that I'm not aware of everything you do every day within your job's unique skill-set. I can also guarantee this: you wouldn't want me to build the chicken coop for your free-range Fayette County chickens, and you certainly wouldn't want me teaching your children. You don't want to drive across a bridge I designed, or get into a self-driving car I invented, and you definitely don't want me performing heart surgery, much less a simple nip-tuck. I'm not that guy!
The bottom line is that, no matter what triggered you to seek a second opinion, we'd love the opportunity to help.