Four Ways a Financial Advisor Should be Like a Great Waiter, Waitress, or Sommelier

Published by Scott Danek

If you are like me, you want a nice glass of wine with your meal, and some combinations are obvious and we don’t need any help, right? Such as pairing a nice cut of beef with a big California Cab. Bingo! Other combinations though may not be as obvious, such as what goes well with a spicy soup? You may prefer reds like I do but until an off-dry German Reisling was suggested to me I would not have known it is delicious with that spicy soup, even if by itself it may be too sweet for my taste!

While this may not be a comparison you would think to make, your financial advisor should serve you in much the same way the waiter, waitress, or sommelier does in helping you with your meal and wine selection.

You Don’t Have the Time or Interest to Get ‘Into the Weeds’

Old vines or new world? Sea level or elevation? Does that wine open up and taste better if decanted first? (This JUST happened to me with a 2008 wine from Mt. Olympus, Greece, and the sommelier suggested we decant it and wow was he right!). There are so many subtle factors that can make a wine exceptional, and different wines mean different grape varietals ideally grown in certain soil, climates, etc. You are likely capable with enough time and interest to learn what grows well where and why, but you simply want to have confidence that when that glass or bottle of wine comes, as recommended by your server or sommelier, that you’ll enjoy the heck out of it and you didn’t need to spend hours to get to that point.

For many, investing and planning are much the same. Sure, there are online calculators if you are so motivated, and there is surely no shortage of information out there on any number of different subjects. In the end though you’d probably rather have someone who has invested in their education and through has the experience to help you make good decisions at each stage of your life to maximize the chance of your financial security, living life on your own terms, and spending your time on your hobbies, passions, and/or family.

You Want the Value to Exceed the Cost

Sure, you could just tuck a bottle of wine under your arm and pay the corkage fee, right?! At least this way you’d save money over paying the mark-up restaurants put on wine compared to ‘retail’. Maybe you’d get lucky and the chef was serving just what happens to pair well with your wine, but what if that meal you select is 180 degrees different in terms of proper wine pairing based on buying your wine before you even knew what you were ordering? You won’t enjoy the wine or the meal nearly as much, and will likely be asking yourself if saving a little money was worth it.

Being ‘lucky’ might be OK with a meal and wine, but it is not a strategy when it comes to your finances. Sure, there are plenty of low-cost index funds, $4.99 per trade platforms, and ‘free’ advice out there, but these may not help when important decisions need to be made and to position yourself for success. An advisor can help you with looking into the future at the value of the adjustable rate mortgage right before retirement that could blow up your cash flow at just the wrong time. Making sure that some of your accounts are invested conservatively enough that the next market correction won’t require you to sell into large losses and unnecessarily shorten the life of your assets. Being that diplomatic bug in your ear about getting that estate planning done so that if the worst happens your loved ones are protected. These are just a few of the ways a great financial advisor can add value that far outweighs their compensation as they strive to help you reach your goals.

Last Time is not Always Like the Next Time

Have you ever done a ‘vertical’ wine flight, or tasting, where you have the same wine from the same winery but taste different vintages or years? If you have you know that wine can taste quite different from year to year, and even in some cases from bottle to bottle. Why is this? Weather, precipitation, insects, etc. can all be variables that can make one harvest different from the other, and this can express itself in how the wine tastes, and as a result impact your experience and enjoyment. The server or sommelier should know this based on their expertise and experience, and can help you make an excellent choice.

This is similar to many characteristics of investing and planning. For example, market downturns or periods of rising interest rates. Sure, a 10% decline this year from a percentage standpoint is the same as the 10% decline that happened a few years ago. One could be a reason to buy more of what is down, while the other could be a reason to hold tight. Valuations, corporate earnings, the health of the domestic and/or global economy, etc. are all variables that could cause one decline to be different from the next, with the decision you make after each having a direct impact on your experience and results, not to mention if you are closer to retirement, paying for the kids’ college, or taking that bucket list trip.

Everything Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

Maybe the food took a bit longer to arrive at your table than you prefer. Or, perhaps the veggies weren’t as al dente as you would have cooked them had you prepared the meal yourself. It could be as simple as accidentally sitting next to that ‘loud talker’ at the next table. Any number of factors can make a meal less than perfect, but if your server is attentive, knowledgeable, and is truly interested and invested in your experience it can make all the difference in how you feel when you walk out of the restaurant, and whether you’ll return.

Trade corrections, 1099 restatements, resetting passwords, proxy notices, rescheduling appointments. These are all at times annoying yet necessary evils that crop up occasionally, and if left unattended they could ruin a relationship with a client. While there will be bumps along the road, your advisor should exemplify and foster a culture that empowers the team to be timely in returning calls, sincere in their assistance, committed to excellence yet willing to acknowledge mistakes, and constantly focused on your goals and objectives.

If you are interested in taking a fresh look at your planning and would like to understand better how we could serve you, click here for a ‘reservation’. While we can’t have the wine chilled, we will commit to providing guidance and advice as if your objectives are our own.

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