houseFor decades, sales trainers and consultants have preached the gospel of connecting with the prospect and making them feel comfortable with the personal-advisor relationship. Annuity and life-insurance sales gurus encourage agents to sit down at the client’s kitchen table and present the “opportunity” face to face in order to help earn their trust. What a colossal bunch of archaic sales garbage. I guess they want advisers to keep using typewriters and Rolodex cards as well. Give us all a break.

Need a financial friend, buy a dog

I always tell people that if you need a friend in the annuity business, buy a dog and name it “Annuity.” That goes for your stock and bond broker, financial planner, wealth architect, or whatever made-up title your adviser goes by.

The days of an adviser pretending to care about every part of your life is officially over. And if you are under some illusion that this is needed, then you need to re-evaluate the role of your adviser. Do you want your doctor to not tell you that you have cancer? Do you want your adviser to be brutally honest and abrasively factual about your financial situation? Do you want a golfing buddy or someone that can really help you with your financial goals?

You can’t teach height

Both of my parents were basketball coaches when I was growing up, so sports analogies ran rampant through most conversations. My dad’s favorite line on the recruiting trail was “you can’t teach height.” That makes sense when you need to put together a competitive team, and it can also apply to your adviser.

You should care less if that person is likable, attractive, or is offensive at every turn. Like athletes, advisers have to produce. They have to bring value, or the coach can pull that scholarship. Has your adviser put up the stats to stay in your financial game? Have they earned that scholarship for the next year? Numbers don’t lie.

Bedside manner does not matter

I would rather my doctor or surgeon be the biggest jerk on the planet, but have the best skills and knowledge available. Nice doesn’t pay the bills. Being cordial doesn’t solve problems. You want an adviser (and a doctor) who shoots straight and is not afraid to stomp all over your emotions to get you moving in the right direction.

My lovely wife of 28 years makes me send my clients a holiday card every year because she thinks it’s important that they know I’m “human.” Can an airbrushed picture of my wife and two daughters do that? Because my wife is the boss, the cards go out every year even though I think it’s a waste. I don’t want my clients to like me. I want them to like my brutally honest advice. That’s it, and that’s my goal.

Friends can lead to fraud

Most Ponzi schemes and fraudulent financial advice typically falls under the veil of some friend or colleague that somehow won people’s trust. Madoff anyone? If you consider your current adviser a friend, and trust them implicitly, I would advise you to reevaluate that financial apathy you are embracing. You know better.

Hate the person, love the advice

The successful hedge-fund and private-equity gurus have already figured out this whole client-relationship issue. They don’t have any relationship except for portfolio performance. There’s a chance that some of these people are disgusting human beings, but their clients don’t care as long as the return numbers work. As the Los Angeles Drew Basketball League’s motto says, “No Excuse. Just Produce.” You might want to hand your adviser that slogan emblazoned on a T-shirt, and have them live up to that pledge.

‘F’ stands for Fiduciary, not Friend

With the recent Department of Labor’s recent “FiduciaryCare” ruling, “financial friend” is going to be permanently replaced with “financial fiduciary.” That’s a good thing in my opinion, even though the proposed law has some major flaws. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to keep the adviser in your financial lane and not allow them to cross that personal line.