At gym the other day a local minister mentioned that he regularly read my article.   He questioned me on the difficulty of selecting a new topic each week.   His passing words were, “at least you know how we ministers feel each week”.   This got me thinking on the similarities between the job of a financial advisor and that of a minister.

 

For starters financial advisors deal with an intangible product.  I often envy the car salesperson who can get his / her customer behind the wheel or an estate agent who offers an incredible view.  The financial advisor sells dreams of a comfortable retirement, a good education.  Worse still the dream is often more of a nightmare, “on your death your family will be taken care of financially”.

 

Most frustrating you can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.  I sometimes feel like “force feeding” my financial advice, how can this person not plan for retirement!

 

At some or other time everyone loses faith, it is then the job of the financial advisor to keep his clients focussed on their planning.  A good example is a correction in share prices when many clients panic and want to sell their shares.  The job of the financial advisor is to re-assure their clients by explaining a temporary market loss vs. a permanent loss and explaining the real risk, which is inflation and thus the need to invest in shares notwithstanding the inherent volatility associated with shares.

 

In writing the weekly column I often feel like I am preaching.  This is because the message is based on certain basic principles, much like religion.  As “financial preachers”, we need to educate our congregation without boring or scaring them.  Threats of poverty at retirement or destitute families on the death of a breadwinner might seem like great sales tools but are as ineffectual as the threat of eternal damnation.

 

Each week we “preach” the basics in the hope that we will reach and change someone’s life for the better.  Another frustrating similarity concerns reaching the ears of those who need the advice most.  Ironically most of those reading this column and other financial publications already know and apply the knowledge successfully.

 

In conclusion it is strange how quickly bad news travels.  Within a day the whole of South Africa knew about Capitec’s Viceroy problems.  It is unfortunate that good news (advice) seems to be a guarded secret of those in the know.  The “sermon” for today is to open your eyes, ears and minds to everything around you.

 

Mark Williams
Mcomm, CFP®, HdipTax
T. 021-851 3746
Email. service@synfin.co.za

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Financial advisors also act like preachers