Why you don’t want a ‘smart’ retirement advisor

Ever seen Zero Dark Thirty?

It’s the movie about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. In it, the CIA director asks his assistant Jeremy what he thinks of a lead analyst after she shares her conclusions on Bin Laden’s location.

“I think she’s f’ing smart,” the assistant tells his boss.

The director stops, pauses, turns and says, “We’re all smart, Jeremy.”

You know why that stuck with me? Because I work in a profession filled with smart people.

Almost any retirement advisor will have impressive offices, impeccable credentials and be able to spout off an array of facts and figures off the top of their heads.

Heck, even their suits look pretty smart.

I enjoy talking with these people. Associating with them. It feels like they know what they’re doing. Reassuring.

It’s hard not to take them seriously.

But should you?

Smart advisors use duct tape

You probably know someone who uses duct tape to fix everything.

Maybe even to make everything.

Well, smart advisors are a little bit like that. Every time the market breaks, they patch it with some duct tape. Usually a product geared to sound exactly the opposite of what made the market break.

Let me give you a little history lesson. 

One “duct tape cycle” started in the late 1990s. When technology was hot, most new mutual funds had “technology” or “internet” in their name.

But as soon as the technology bubble collapsed, the duct tape brigade came out in force.

Smart people came out with “principal protected” funds that looked and sounded safe.

They stunk! These and other conservative investment products sold after the technology bubble popped missed much of the returns of recovering markets.

And through the 2000s, the duct tapes changed names. Variable annuities, hedge funds, indexed annuities, commodity funds and finally infrastructure funds all stepped in to fix the problems of their forerunners.

Roll after roll of duct tape to fix the “car” the markets drive. And then driving off a financial cliff (just for fun).

And I rolled with the tapers. I was almost as afraid of losing clients’ money as they were of losing it every time a downturn hit. 

So I sold these products, thinking that if I just learned and researched more, I’d figure out the problem. I thought my duct tape would hold forever because I was smart enough to predict the future.

Yep. I used to be smart. I still feel guilty about it today.

What’s that say about me?

Keep reading.

What you want in a retirement advisor

No matter how impressive the background, credentials or even past performance of a retirement advisor, smarts alone can’t cut it. You can never accurately predict the future. And that’s what a perfect financial planner would have to do.

Do you want a smart advisor? Sure you do.

Do you want your advisor to be so smart that they’ll do anything to sell you on the duct-tape scheme of the moment?

I don’t think so.

You don’t want someone who thinks they can see the future or predict your mood when you step foot in the office. You want an advisor who is willing to walk life with you. 

To see small course corrections that need to be made and make them efficiently through little conversations.

In short, you want Agile Retirement Management.

Because markets are fickle. Things change quickly.

Your own life changes faster than you can keep up with.

All that means is that agility is more important than smarts when it comes to choosing a retirement advisor.

Let’s face it: “We’re all smart.”

But not everyone is adaptable.

Your retirement plans should be easy to install and upgrade.

Let’s see together how your retirement plans could fit into my proprietary Agile Retirement Management system.

Together, we’ll work to create a life you want to live both now and all the way to the end of your retirement.

Let’s talk.

Question of the week:

When has a planner sold you on a duct-tape fix? Share your experience in the comments section.