From the November 2008 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

The Green Thing

Green has always been the favorite color of financial advisors. Back in the early 1800s, when I was studying for my Series 7 exam, visions of future green danced in my head. No, I wasn't dreaming of green eggs and ham. Nor was I dreaming of little green apples. I was dreaming of green cash!

Like it or not, many of us got into this business because of the amount of money we could make. Granted, some advisors do make a very, very handsome living in this business, but I bet you'd be surprised to know what the average advisor earns. According to Payscale.com, the average financial advisor (with 10 to 19 years of experience) earns just under $69,000 per year -- not quite enough to afford that snappy red Porsche he always dreamed about.

While $69,000 is nothing to sneeze at, many of us have hopes of loftier rainmaking. For this reason, advisors are always searching for the next great thing -- the next pet rock, the next Microsoft, or the next Whatever.com. We are determined to find that next yellow brick road to the green.

I find it quite ironic that the next path to green might actually be green itself. Some are calling it the greening of America. No longer do we want to harm our environment (though many continue to let their SUVs do it). We want to clean, eat and drink in an all-natural way. Nature is good. Chemicals are bad.

In fact, you may have noticed some greening taking place in your own company. Some firms are encouraging their employees to work from home more often so they don't pollute the air with their Humvee exhaust. Other companies are suggesting that workers refrain from printing e-mails because it will save paper -- and, thus, more trees. These are all noble gestures, but are they effective? Beats me. It does seem that the eco-friendly approach is becoming more and more popular with the general public, however. Just ask Don and Deirdre Imus about their non-toxic green cleaning products.

Do they work any better? Do they make us live any longer? You're talking to a guy who still eats about a pound and a half of chemically processed bacon every morning, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask. Personally, I'm of a mind that we're all going to die of something someday. If chemicals can make that time go a little easier for me, then so be it. I'm sure I may rethink this attitude when I'm on my deathbed, but for now, I'm solid.

Maybe my thinking has to do with some of the trendiness I see in the Green Revolution. Everyone wants to jump on board because they think it's the right thing to do. For example, one company I'm familiar with has blindly taken the green jump to a better corporate America. They've formed a "Green Committee" and are busy implementing green strategies throughout the firm. But in their rush to save the world, they may have overlooked the point a bit.

To cut down on waste -- in this case, paper cups -- big, colored, plastic water bottles were purchased for all their employees to use. No longer would anyone have to be consumed by guilt when tossing those little Dixie cups into the trash. When I first heard of this, I thought it was a good thing -- albeit a little too touchy-feely for me personally. The irony became apparent when I flipped over the bottle and read the markings on the bottom . . . Made in China.

Who better to reap the benefits of the greening of America than the most heavily polluted industrial country in the world? Only in America! Could someone please pass me the Windex and a handful of that delicious processed bacon?

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Once a mildly amusing comedian, Bill Miller now works as a recruiter for a top independent broker-dealer; reach him at writingbill@mac.com.

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