The Financial Adviser Dinosaur: Not yet extinct
Compliance & Professional Services

The Financial Adviser Dinosaur: Not yet extinct

June 6, 2012
by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo 

Despite all the changes in financial services over recent years the “Financial Adviser Dinosaur” is far from extinct.
Bear in mind that pretty much everything I know about dinosaurs has been learned from watching all the Jurassic Park movies – twice, so I am a bit of an authority on them.
Here’s what I am pretty sure I know about a dinosaur:
  • it is programmed internally to hunt for every meal.  That is its base instinct.
  • it simply eats whatever it kills.  It is not a particularly discerning diner, as long as it gets meat.
  • if it cannot catch and kill new prey, it will resort to cannibalism and attack its own kind
  • it cannot be tamed or domesticated.  It will always be a wild creature that will turn on any other.
  • it has a poorly developed mind.  Logic, rational thought, understanding of consequences are non-existent.
  • it has very basic emotional development.  The entire set of emotions consist of “happy” (“have just killed and eaten something”), & “angry” (“have not killed and eaten something”).
  • it is noisy and attempts to impose its presence with sheer volume.  Of the roaring kind.
  • it stomps about crushing things underfoot willy-nilly. It’s environment exists solely for its own benefit in its mind.
I then compare this to a certain type of adviser.  The “Financial Adviser Dinosaur” (or FAD for brevity here).  Does this creature still exist?
  • The FAD has no concept of investing in future food sources
  • The FAD lives sale to sale.  Often it spends its commission twice – the day a sale is “made”, and then again the day they actually get paid for the sale they made.
  • The FAD has no target market (preferred prey?).  If it is still breathing it is prey.
  • The FAD will cannibalize its own business for another sale.
  • The FAD cannot be improved through regulation and rules.  Like a leash, they are effective only when directly applied to the beast in question and under the watchful eye of a handler.  The leash in itself does not change the animals behavior.
  • The FAD has no technical qualifications at all.  Nor does it really want any.
  • The FAD operates at the barest minimum legal standard, hovering just on the barely legal side of business. Mostly.
  • The FAD has no aspirations for self-improvement, professional development or for achieving any of the higher purposes in life.  The mindset is consistently narcissistic – focused only on what makes them feel good in the moment.
  • The FAD has limited emotional development.  Whilst they cover the stock standards set of human emotions, they have not quite evolved to the point of having innate sense of fairness or justice, and the emotional set does not include guilt or remorse it seems.
  • The FAD is consistently upbeat and positive and talking enthusiastically – about themselves – to any audience.  Loudly-to-VERY-Loudly is the usual volume level.  A mirror is of course an audience to a FAD.
  • The FAD is not interested in creating legacies or thinking of tomorrow.  Bulldozing is a method of movement as well as a way of living for the FAD.
Now I really should stress that these FAD’s are increasingly difficult to find…there are less and less by the month it seems.  They are far from extinct yet, but the good news is that these Financial Adviser Dinosaurs are dying out.  
Regulators, like the Park Rangers, are out there trying to find them and contain them or cull them.  Professional bodies are building better communities and safer environments for the consumers to protect them from the FAD’s. Many many professional advisers quietly go about their business ethically and work to keep the consumers away from the FAD’s one-by-one.
So who keeps these creatures alive?
Institutions do.  Product manufacturers who turn a blind eye to behaviour and ethics of the FAD’s so they can keep the sales numbers pumped up for the end of quarter reporting.  Get the numbers of sales in product movement if you like (which is akin to “pumping up the body count”) and there’s bonus’ to be had.  Dividends to be paid….shareholders happy….another round of pay increases for CEO’s….
It is good that some institutions have been caught out and hammered by market regulators in recent years.  I hope there is more of that where it is warranted.
To make the carnivorous FAD’s extinct then eliminate their food source.


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