From the October 2012 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

September 25, 2012

Advisor-in-Chief

The American public could use a good advisor to help them decide who to vote for in November.

This is the fourth presidential election campaign I’ve experienced, or shall I say, been subjected to, since I joined Investment Advisor in 1999. As with those prior elections, in our coverage in the magazine and on AdvisorOne.com we’ll take a down-the-middle approach to evaluating the political parties’ platforms. In an objective way, we’ll illuminate the major parties’ candidates’ positions on those areas that are of critical importance to you and your clients—just search “Election Impact 2012” on the site. That’s where you’ll find information about the candidates and their positions, who’s monetarily supporting whom, which members of Congress or the D.C. regulatory bodies will be stepping up or stepping down post-election, and what the implications are likely to be of an Obama or Romney victory in areas like energy, trade and foreign affairs.

Oh, and we’ll be including the Truth-O-Meter from PolitiFact.com on that home page—a Pulitzer Prize-winning service, originating with the Tampa Bay Times, that in a nonpartisan way evaluates the statements of the candidates and their party colleagues for their, well, honesty.

I think of PolitiFact in the way that you probably think of the investment research services you use: If you’re looking for a small-cap fund to add alpha to a client’s portfolio or attempting to create the appropriate asset allocation mix for a 55-year-old pre-retiree, you’ll likely take advantage of the smarts of various people in that business that you’ve grown to respect over the years, then add your own expertise before sending in a trade order.

As I listen to the rhetoric flowing out of the just-concluded political conventions, and hear and see the commercials from the two parties, it occurs to me that the American public could use a good advisor to help them decide for whom to vote, perhaps following the process you use to put financial plans together for clients and then to implement those plans with specific investing, estate planning or tax choices.

After all, every day you wade through the hype that every financial product maker puts out that is meant to separate your client from her money. Your job is first to do no harm, to protect your client from the financial services industry (a nod to Bob Clark), but then also to find the best investment vehicles and choices that meet the needs of your clients. While you keep an eye on the near term, that plan is meant to pay dividends over the long haul. It’s meant to benefit not just your clients but their offspring as well. Yes, you want to preserve your clients’ capital, but you also want growth because even in a retirement portfolio you want to make sure your clients can pursue happiness while also knowing that they won’t run out of money. And yes, you also make sure your clients’ philanthropic tendencies are properly structured so that they can support those people and programs that they feel passionate about.

Hmm, sounds like what a good president and Congress should be doing; an advisor-in-chief might be a very good idea.

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