The investment advice industry, or, more to the point, the financial services industry, finds itself in the spotlight to a greater extent today than perhaps it ever has before. Beginning next year, anyone who receives compensation for delivering advice has to adhere to a standard that ensures that he or she is solely looking out for the client's best interest. I find it ironic that regulators are attempting to force onto an entire industry a practice that has essentially guaranteed the success of its firms that were already holding themselves to such a standard (folks do business with folks they trust).
As you may have noticed I take every opportunity herein to remind our clients that they pay us to do the heavy lifting when it comes to their investment portfolios; to essentially take the burden, and/or the worry, of the investment management process off of their shoulders. Per my closing line to last week's market commentary:
Lastly, if you're our client and you happen to find yourself sweating -- and we don't have a review meeting on the calendar -- let's you and I have a chat right away. Remember, you pay us to sweat on your behalf. :)If you've been to our website lately you've noticed a different look. Nick is in the process of updating our online presentation (more to come on the site) and creating a more robust user experience. We have our own app debuting within the next few weeks that, among other things, will allow clients to not only track their portfolio with us, but to keep tabs on virtually all of their financial affairs securely from their iOS and android devices.
While updating the website we, for whatever reason, felt the need to really spell out our process as it relates to the client experience. I was reminded of the beautiful brochures we produced back when PWA was born. They were impressive full color glossy displays of how we deliver what we deemed to be the best client service on the planet. The fact that I was reminded of those brochures tells you all you need to know. They've either been destroyed via some annual housecleaning event, or they rest under the dusty boxes that occupy our offsite storage facility.
After viewing a number of other firms' websites and seeing how they illustrate their systems, etc., and sketching out similar presentations of our own, it occurred to us that the details of the client meeting, the nuances of our reports, the frequency in which we perform certain tasks, and on and on, while that's all okay stuff to illustrate, it doesn't come anywhere near sending a message that truly speaks to what we see as our function on behalf of our clients.
So we decided that our website will devote zero space to an outline of introductory, followup and review meetings, etc. Instead, it will state, clearly and concisely, what we truly believe "our purpose" to be.
Here -- from the site -- is yet another reminder of how we view our relationship with you (you blog subscribers who happen to be our clients):
Whether it's the amazing speed in which technology has advanced over recent years, or, in a competitive environment, the need for firms to market their consequently less unique process(es), we have seen what we view to be an industry-wide packaging of investment and financial services; a commoditization, if you will.
At Private Wealth Advisors — while we do employ state of the art technology that allows us to study and assess economies the world over, and assists us in analyzing portfolios, objectives and strategies — each and every client is a study in and of themselves. They bring to our table their needs, concerns, ambitions and fears, and they lever our experience and expertise in what becomes a long-term commitment to addressing, accounting for, and ultimately satisfying their financial objectives.
Frankly, it's about emotion. Life's decisions, be they financial or otherwise, are rooted in emotion. We measure our success, not in numbers, but in our ability to make our clients' lives better at the deepest personal level.
The above is not some catchy commercial meant to entice new clients to our firm. It simply states what — over the past three-plus decades of catering to the financial needs of individuals, families and their institutions — we've come to know to be our purpose:
If your clients live their lives in comfort, if they go about their days without a financial worry, without reacting to or fretting over the inherent volatility of financial markets — if our commitment to them instills, or enhances, that sense of wellbeing — we are indeed successful as a firm.I'll address the presently hot topic of advisor fees shortly in another blog post.