Paul Meloan – Vested Interest

The word ‘producer’ and the industries built to glorify them should be red flags. Producers unnecessarily separate people from their money with little to show for it. An advisor can never be a producer, and a producer can never be an advisor. They are mutually exclusive.

Producer: it’s the ugliest, most devastating word in personal finance: it’s worse than depression, recession, inflation, crash, correction, or taxes. It’s also more expensive.

What’s a producer?

A producer is someone who measures their value solely by the revenue they generate for their employer. If you’re a sales representative in the furniture, car, or appliance business there is a certain logic to this concept. When a person goes to get a new dishwasher they reasonably believe any sales rep they speak with wants nothing other than to sell them a new dishwasher; perhaps they can also persuade the customer she needs a refrigerator and oven also. Sales is honorable work; it’s just not the place to seek advice.

A client should be able to trust that the person on the other side of the desk will give them objective, professional advice in the best interests of the client. This is called a fiduciary standard. In the world of producers, the needs of the client are secondary to the needs of the company.

Logically enough, banks, brokerages and insurance companies frequently refer to their representatives as producers. They have awards for the Producer of the Year, with bonuses and prizes. Could you imagine a physician being awarded prizes for generating the most revenue for a hospital or drug company? (Why yes I could).

Let’s go to the tape!

Here is probably the most famous scene in movie history dedicated to producers. Warning: if really, really foul language offends you, better off skipping the video clip.

Always Be Closing. Coffee’s for closers only. Hit the bricks, pal.

Twenty years ago when this movie was made, investors had few choices but to trust their finances to producers. Today, banks, brokerages and insurance companies STILL refer to their representatives as producers. It’s as if time has stood still.

But time has not stood still: the world has moved forward beyond sales contests offering Cadillacs or steak knives.

When it comes to your money, recognize that a producer needs to satisfy someone other than the client. A producer is one bad quarter away from Alec Baldwin walking into her office and telling her she’s ‘wanting’ and to ‘hit the bricks.’

Is your advisor compensated by anything other than client fees?

Does your advisor adhere to a fiduciary standard of care? Is your advisor compensated by anything other than client fees? If so, that person is not an advisor, she’s a producer. It’s time for you to hit the bricks.

Paul Meloan is the co-founder and co-managing member of Aegis Wealth Management, LLC, in Bethesda, Maryland USA. Before Aegis Paul was a practicing attorney as well as working in the tax practice of Ernst & Young, LLP.

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