No month shouts "LOVE" like February. If you happen to sell roses, or your last name is Hallmark, you know what I'm talking about. The rest of us have been taught that February is the time to show our appreciation for all the love in our lives. Even callous financial advisors can find themselves awash in unfamiliar feelings of tender affection during this unique month.
Recently, I spent a few days with some financial advisor friends of mine. As we sampled great quantities of adult beverages, someone mentioned Valentine's Day. One buddy slurred out, "I love my job; I don't have time for anything else." I replied, "Yep, on a cold winter night, I'd much rather curl up with my Morningstar reports and space heater than some yucky old woman!" As that dart glided over his inebriated head, he could only mutter in agreement: "I knew I wasn't the only one."
If you're a regular reader of this column, you know that one of my favorite pastimes is to study the financial advisor in his natural habitat -- with a drink in his hand. It is in these situations that I can mine my most valuable information. As we reloaded the pitchers, I asked everyone, in the spirit of Cupid, to tell me all the things they love about being a financial advisor. (To preserve this column's PG-13 rating, some of the responses have been edited and the names changed.)
Mr. Budweiser quickly wiped his mouth with his Armani sleeve and said, "Personally, I love the money!" Sitting to his right, Mr. Grey Goose couldn't get an "Amen!" out of his mouth fast enough. This led to a very uncomfortable few minutes, as a table full of middle-aged, slightly overweight men all started high-fiving and fist-bumping each other. Fortunately, I restored order before Mr. Old Milwaukee and Mr. Corona did a flying chest bump.
Mr. Chivas opened his glazed eyes long enough to tell everyone, "I love Federal Reserve rate cuts." Heads began to nod. Mr. Patr?n started mumbling something about how great Alan Greenspan is. That led to another uncomfortable moment when I had to break it to him that Alan wasn't working that gig anymore. We were all forced to pinky swear that we wouldn't mention this to any of his clients.
Johnnie Walker (Blue) told us that he really loves products with no breakpoints. This led to a chorus of catcalls from the gang. Johnnie was forced to promise that he would seriously consider changing his practice to a more fee-based model. He then asked if he could redo his answer. After being granted this exception, he said, "I love my competitor's secretary." I told Johnnie that Dr. Phil was busy, and he should probably head up to bed now.
We stayed up for another couple of hours bantering about a financial advisor's loves. I've always known that brokers are a very zealous lot. If you don't believe me, give a group of them an open bar and you can find out just how passionate they really are! Mr. J?germeister, who hadn't said a word all night, summed it all up: "I love being me!" With that, he slammed the rest of his drink, pushed away from the table, and staggered out of the bar.
When the bartender presented us with the check, I said, "I think I'd love being Mr. J?germeister, too! I'd love to leave without paying." Stay tuned for my next column, where we'll explore the correlation between financial advisors and alligator arms.
Once a mildly amusing comedian and a recruiter for a top independent broker-dealer, Bill Miller now works as an industry wholesaler; reach him at writingbill@mac.