Signs your adviser doesn’t know anything

Today’s post is a Guest Post, and you know my Opinion of Guest Posts normally, however, I think this post is quite entertaining and a nice follow on to a Podcast by Preet last week. Barry Choi can be found on Twitter as well.

This is a follow-up to my recent interview with Preet Banerjee which can be found here.

After being disappointed with my once a year mutual fund check up at my bank I thought it would be a good idea to switch to a financial institution that dealt with just investments.  I figured my adviser would be looking out for my best interests but in the end I should have paid attention to earlier signs that he was only in it for his own benefit.

Signs your adviser doesn’t know anything:

He wants to be friends – What?  Friends?  I don’t want another friend, nor do I need an invite to your kid’s birthday party, I need someone to help me meet my financial goals.  All my adviser talked about was meeting up for coffee or lunch with my then girlfriend now wife.  It’s now obvious to me he just wanted be friends so he could get into my social circle and get more business.  Plus it was just creepy.

His services are free – Free!  I love Free, where do I sign up?  Okay not free but it was a tiny fraction of a percentage which would cost me nothing according to him.  Oh wait that fraction of a percent comes from a bigger percentage called the Management Expense Ratio.  I would later find out that all my funds also had a Deferred Sales Charge too.  Great, no mention of MER’s or DSC which could cost 10’s of thousands of dollars probably more.  Nothing in life is free.

Old technology – Whenever I met up with him I could not stop staring at his laptop.  This thing was HUGE it was at least 7 years old, he always had to sit by a power outlet, there was no wi-fi so he could never show me up to the minute info and half the time it wouldn’t even boot up.  Did I mention he didn’t own a cell phone and this was the year 2009?


What does this have to do with Financial Advice?!?!?

Life Insurance – He kept pushing insurance.  This is one area where I had some knowledge so I stated to him that I have no dependents and no debt so why do I need insurance?  His response, oh it’s a tax shelter.  Okay sure but I still don’t need it now.  His second response, it’s how all the rich people get rich.  I’m pretty sure insurance only makes the people selling it rich.

No Previous Experience – When I met my adviser he was a security guard at my company.  Yes even I’m face palming as I write this.  He always talked about how he had a finance background and was just taking a break.  I now suspect his financial “knowledge” was limited to what his employer sold and a license to sell mutual funds.  Seriously some companies will hire anyone, a fair amount of people working at financial institutions really have no financial knowledge or background.

The Big Picture – He never asked me about my employee benefits.  My employer offered a Defined Benefit pension plan and basic life insurance.  At the time I didn’t understand pensions and I thought I was already doing a good job saving, so I didn’t look into it.  A real financial adviser would take a look at all benefits available to you, if you have a DB plan they would tell you to jump on that.  Actually I’m pretty sure my guy would have continued to push life insurance.

Broken Hand – One meeting he had a cast on his hand.  I asked if he was okay and if he was in an accident?  His response was his hand had met the face of someone he didn’t agree with.  How do I even respond to that?

I was able to leave my adviser and his company in the end without paying any fees because I had evidence, including e-mails and hard copies, that the plan he had set me up with didn’t meet the goals I was trying to reach and seemed to mainly line his pockets.  His superiors agreed with me and I found out six months later he was let go after an internal investigation revealed he had similar problems with other clients.

The upside of this whole situation is that it taught me to take personal finance seriously; no one will care more about your money than yourself.


Why You Need to Consider Lifestyle in Your Retirement Planning

So much of the time, when we think of retirement, we think mainly about the financial aspect. However, it’s also important to consider your lifestyle goals and choices. Your lifestyle choices will have a huge impact on your overall success in retirement, as well as your satisfaction with retirement.

Lifestyle and Your Retirement Finances

Your lifestyle choices will be one of the biggest factors in your retirement finances. As a result, it is important to think about what you want out of your retirement years, and figure out how to create a financial situation that will allow you to reach your goals.

Think about what you want a typical day to look like. What hobbies will you pursue? Will you travel? Or do you just want to stay home, enjoying your favorite pursuits? You will also need to determine what size of home you will have, where you will live, and whether you will need to pay for additional services (such as cleaning or yard care).

Consider what lifestyle you want to lead, and then make a retirement plan to help you reach that point. Look at where you are now in relation to where you want to be at retirement. You might need to increase the amount you invest, or you might need to go through credit counselling to help you get your debt under control so that it is paid off by the time you retire.

By understanding what lifestyle you think will be most satisfying to you, it’s possible to really think about what you need to accomplish, and make a plan for the future.

Lifestyle and Your Satisfaction in Retirement

Your lifestyle also determines your level of satisfaction in retirement. If you don’t have good health, your retirement can become disappointing quite quickly. Many retirees also find themselves becoming bored if they don’t have meaningful pursuits or social interactions.

You need to think about what retirement means to you, and think about what you will do during retirement. Many seniors stagnate as they get older because they don’t know what they want to do with themselves once the “day job” is gone. Take some time now to decide what you want to do during retirement. You can take classes, learn a new hobby, get lost in volunteer work, travel, or even work at a fulfilling part-time job. You can do all of those things, if you plan for it. Really sit down and decide what lifestyle you will live in retirement, and what you will use to keep busy.

Once you know what you hope to do in retirement, you can take steps now to reach that goal. One of the most important things to do is to take care of your health. Your lifestyle can be greatly diminished if your physical and mental health deteriorate quickly in retirement. Reduce the chances of these problems by taking care of your body and mind now, and establishing good habits that will allow you to truly enjoy your retirement lifestyle.


Bloggers for Charity: 16 Going on 30

As a preface a while back I asked my readers to join into the Bloggers for Charity program that was started by the Blunt Beancounter. I was glad to hear from other participants how much money was being paid to charity to get a Guest Post on their blogs, I was also disappointed to see no one take me up on the offer (you had your chance, I will return to my standard Guest Post policy in the future).

The Blunt Bean Counter actually had such a great response that he had folks on his “waiting list” so I am helping out by having a young writer who donated $200 to write a Guest Post. The topic which is a little off topic for me, but still a very good subject is about Junior Achievement.

I recommend you have a look for other Bloggers for Charity as well!

16 Going on 30

By Rosie Mandla

Guest Post: Charity Competition

There is something extremely satisfying about investing in the leaders of tomorrow.  I’m not talking about opening your wallet and handing out a twenty dollar bill – instead, taking time from your busy schedule and sharing your years of experience and wisdom with the young’ins. Just think… someday we’ll all have to pass the throne on to the next generation.

Junior Achievement (JA) is a not for profit organization created to inspire youth to succeed in our ever-changing and global economy.  JA’s premise and continuance depends heavily on the direct involvement of today’s business masters.  What better way to support the leaders of tomorrow than by passing practical guidance from the leaders of today?

A few years ago, a friend invited me to be an advisor for the Company Program with the firm I was working for. The Company Program is one of many programs run by JA, and it inspires high school students to understand the role of business in our society by founding and operating an enterprise of their own.

So that is what we did. For eight long months, a group of 30 or so students from various high schools met weekly and started a company. This included issuing shares to each member, setting up Facebook groups to share product ideas, weekly trips to the dollar store in an effort to minimize product costs, advertising their product on a personally developed website, canvassing door to door to sell their product (I was wrong… opening up your wallet and taking out a twenty dollar bill does help too), and producing proper accounting records.

I admit, the process had its ups and downs. Sometimes products did not pass the quality control test, and the website’s user experience was questionable.  However, in the end, what impressed me the most was the perseverance and creativity these students displayed. To see the transformation from clueless adolescents to legitimate business novices was utterly amazing.  Not to mention their profit margins!

By teaching our youth the fundamentals of business early, we promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and resourcefulness.  It is with this knowledge and awareness that we, each and as a society, prosper.  As the Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.  I parallel this quote to JA’s mandate.

I will conclude by saying that there are many worthy charities that each aim to better this world in some way. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing that my words may have impacted the life of one student.  And that student may grow to change the lives of many others.

For more details about Junior Achievement, you can visit their website at


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