From the November 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

November 1, 2010

Getting Back to Fun

Every financial advisor on the planet knows just how difficult the past few years have been. Tremendous amounts of wealth have vanished. Some of it your clients’, some of it your own. I believe it’s safe to say that being a financial advisor hasn’t been a lot of fun since the market tanked. Well what do you say we start having some fun again?

As I write this column, it appears the market isn’t going to implode — yet. We now know the recession officially ended in June of ’09 (No one informed my net worth of that.). Even Warren Buffett believes the danger of another recession has subsided. Is it time for the staff to start icing down the Rum Jumbies?

I often find myself longing for the good old days — of the bull market — when everyone was having fun. As a wholesaler, I had it great. Three or four times a year I would travel to a beautiful resort to “work” a broker-dealer conference/awards trip. The hardest part of these trips was trying to act like I didn’t want to go. “Of course, honey, I’d rather stay here with you changing diapers and cleaning up dog crap. I hate my job!”

When I first got into wholesaling — way back when I had all my internal organs and glands — a wise old wholesaler pulled me aside and gave me a great piece of advice: “Son, never let your wife hear you whistling when you’re packing for a trip.” Words to live by. Apparently mine heard.

As an industry, I don’t think we did a very good job of making these trips seem like work. No matter how hard I tried to explain to my family and friends how difficult my job was, they scoffed. “Let’s get this straight, for work you go to some five-star resort in Hawaii, attend raucous parties and buy food and booze for whomever you want AND you use someone else’s credit card!?”

Ok, I confess. Some of these trips may have included a smidgeon or two of fun. Either I can’t remember or I can’t comment because of pending litigation.

I do remember how the wholesalers would all sit around and have drinks, smoke a few cigars and laugh about all the terrible abuse dished out to them by advisors at the conference. We laughed at how they were now acting like our best friends because they wanted us to pay for their lunch and mojito. Ha!

The advisors would get together for fun as well. They would all sit around and have drinks, smoke a few cigars and laugh about all the terrible abuse they dished out to the wholesalers. They laughed at how the wholesalers were now acting like their best friends because they thought lunch and a mojito might get them an appointment. Ha!

The broker-dealer home office crew would also get together for laughs. They would all sit around and have drinks, smoke a few cigars and laugh because — quite frankly — they were drunk. With both advisors and wholesalers constantly buying them cocktails, night after night became a Last Man Standing kind of thing. Incidentally, the winners of these contests always seemed to be some guy with five kids who worked in the technology department. Ha!

Based on my fragmented memory, I’m sure I remember a time when working in the financial services industry was fun. I say let’s rekindle the magic. I officially declare that the past few horrible years are now behind us. My data shows all the bad stuff ended in July ’10. Trust me, it’s okay to start bumping up the T&E budget again and letting the fun begin. Aloha.

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