Do you peddle financial pornography?

By Bill Bachrach

Bachrach & Associates


Have you ever supplied your clients with your own brand of "financial pornography" in the form of an investment newsletter, market update or other information?

I was interviewed by a prominent financial advisor on the radio. As we concluded, he asked if there was anything else I'd like to say to listeners. I inquired if I could be honest. "Sure," he said.

"Well, what I'd really like to tell your audience is that it's a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and why on earth are you spending it listening to this show?"

"Let me ask you a question," I continued to the host of the show, "How many of your clients do you think are listening to you on the radio?" He admitted that he thought not one of his clients would be tuned in to the show. "Why not?" I asked.

"They don't need to," he responded.

"Right! There are better things they could be doing. So my advice is whether you hire our host or somebody else, you should find an advisor you can trust to take care of your money so you don't have to waste your precious time listening to shows about finance and money. There are competent people out there. Instead, get a hobby. Get a dog. Get a life."

An interesting way for a guest of a show to end their appearance, don't you think?

I'm sure if we had the listeners make a list of all the things that are more important in life than money (the things they really enjoy doing), listening to that radio show, or any financial show, would not be at the top of the list or not even on the list at all.

Isn't this what you wish for your clients? That they would determine you are competent enough and trust you enough to handle their money so they don't have to worry about it anymore? I believe this is the real value a trusted advisor provides to clients of all economic levels. Therefore, when you help a person realize that an activity they used to deem important is actually no longer necessary, you give them the gift of time. How much is that worth to them?

Do your clients read financial magazines, newspapers and books or go looking for or accept investment advice from everyone including friends, neighbors and a variety of advisors? Do they seek to understand planning methodology or money management strategies? Have you ever supplied them with your own brand of "financial pornography" in the form of an investment newsletter, market update or other information?

You may think that pornography is too strong of a word. I don't. I define financial pornography as anything of no value to your client. It's not that the information does not have value in general; it simply has no value to your clients because it's redundant. You are already doing your job.

Basically, when you distribute financial porn, you're giving people additional tasks they don't need just to satisfy an unnecessary urge to know more about finances. Worse for you is that you're sending a powerful negative message: "Don't trust me to be competent and give you accurate advice. Study it yourself." I know that's not what you mean to do, but given the importance of trust in your client relationships, you want to be especially careful to not send any messages, intentional or not, that lower trust.

Then what do you send to clients if you want to stay in touch? How about something of real value? Like something that relates to them having an even better quality of life because they have delegated making smart choices with their money to you. It may be worth considering sending your clients a newsletter that focuses on the things in life that are more important than money, like physical, relationship, inner and career health. These are areas no one can delegate to someone else, so they are of huge importance in anyone's life. Clients who receive this kind of communication get a positive message from the advisor: "I'm taking care of your money and here's some information that can help you live a better life."

A newsletter is one way to keep in regular contact with clients without fostering an unhealthy obsession with financial pornography, investment performance and trying to educate them. Instead of peddling porn, enhance trust.

Don't be a salesperson. Be a trusted advisor.