Apr
03
Form v. Substance

A few years ago a friend suggested I might enjoy meeting the management team of a newly formed investment firm. A specialty insurer decided to expand their service offering to include wealth management. They believed their insurance niche would provide them easy entree' to the professional community they served.

I'm always interested to learn about others in our industry and how they stake out a value proposition. Very few professions are as homogenous as the wealth management business. While everyone professes to have great service, best of breed investment strategies and unmatched focus on individual client goals, the reality is consistently distinguishing oneself on those measures can be challenging.

While I enjoyed our meeting, I came away with two strong impressions - they were overconfident about their investment acumen and dismissive of the value of fnancial planning.

Fast forward to last week when I got a call from an executive recruiter. Changes are afoot at the new firm. Growth hasn't gone as expected and they've experienced staff turnover.

The firm's website has a section dedicated to "wealth management." To the casual observer, the overview of their "solutions" sounds reasonable, albeit short on specifics. And while the resumes of the group are impressive, there's not a credentialed financial planner (CFP or CPA).

Financial planning is hard, time consuming and not a "one size fits all" proposition. It requires a combination of professional expertise, real world experience and discernment. Delivering valuable financial planning to clients is much harder than just putting words on a website, something I suspect one firm has discovered.