Relating to Advisors

Three Questions:

Question 1.  Why do people mistrust salespeople?

People are often right to mistrust salespeople.  Perhaps mistrust is too strong.  Maybe it should be why are people skeptical about their presentations?  The principle is that salespeople usually know more about the subject than does the customer.  That imbalance can be adverse for the customer.  Consider Harvey MacKay’s  observation.

“When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with experience.”

Question 2  Should they be skeptical?

It is a good idea to be skeptical in the beginning because it is the beginning.  No salesperson, no matter how conscientious, can provide everything the customer needs to know in the beginning.  They can’t even know what the customer knows in the beginning.  From the customer’s place, a salesperson’s passionate emphasis on a single or perhaps few points should be a concern.

“One can’t say that figures lie. But figures as used in financial arguments, seem to have the bad habit of expressing a small part of the truth forcibly, and neglecting the other part ….” —-  Fred Schwed Jr.

Question 3.  How can people differentiate?

People cannot at first, although a passionate single issue presentation should be a deal breaker.  Even a hard referral from a trusted ally is insufficient.  Your situation may have fundamental differences and the experience the other had may not replicate in your world.  There are things that you can look for.

  • The salesperson is in no hurry.
  • The salesperson asks a lot of questions
  • The salesperson listens to the answers
  • The salesperson has several approaches to a situation.  Those with just one are dangerous.
  • The salesperson checks back to adjust to new circumstances and to test the efficacy of the plan.
  • The salesperson adds to your wisdom.  They help show you how your situation connects to the world at large.  They can help you understand that you are making progress and are on track.

A poor advisor is always overpaid and a good advisor is always underpaid.  Learn about good advisors and let them help you.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.


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