From the November 2012 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Advisor Impossible

Have you noticed how many reality television shows there are these days? It seems like just about every channel has some kind of reality show. Right now some of my favorites are the Impossible shows. There are a bunch of them: Dinner Impossible, Restaurant Impossible and Hotel Impossible. Another favorite (and similar show) is Bar Rescue.  

The premise of all these shows is similar. First, find a business that is going down the toilet. Second, bring in an expert and try to fix it. The best part of these programs is watching the experts berate the owners. Much like the Marines, the experts first have to break the owners down before they build them up. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Hoping to catch a bit of this Impossible wave, I am currently working on a television project for the major networks called Financial Advisor Impossible. I’d love to get your opinion on it.

Here’s how it works. First, we’ll have all the wirehouses and independent broker-dealers nominate their most pathetic, ill-equipped financial advisors. The key, for us, will be to select advisors before they start skimming client’s funds for personal use.

Next, our camera crew will visit the advisor. We’ll interview all the advisor’s clients (and former clients) who have lost a boatload of money with our luckily selected advisor. Then, we’ll zoom into a close shot of the advisor and ask him to discuss his investment philosophy. We will cut back and forth to the host’s dumbfounded look. 

Once we have our advisor beaten down and looking like the Barney Fife of the field, our expert steps in to save the day. Mr. Expert is an intimidating little man who talks way too fast and always seems to have just a touch of spittle in the corner of his mouth. 

Mr. Expert goes on to tell Mr. Fife, “For the past two months, our cameras have been secretly recording all of your office activity.” To which, Mr. Fife responds by rolling his eyes into the back of his head, turning pale and falling to the floor. 

After the paramedics leave, the recording continues. “Mr. Fife,” the expert addresses, “how much time do you waste during a typical day?”  Fife replies that he hardly wastes any time because he’s a workaholic. 

“Roll the tape!” shouts Mr. Expert. For the next five minutes we watch a video montage of our struggling advisor doing everything he can to not pick up the phone and call a prospect. In the first clip, as the market opens, we see the advisor neatly lining up stacks of paper by the printer. In the next clip, the advisor appears to be intently watching CNBC, but on closer review, we see he’s actually bouncing back and forth to Dr. Phil. 

Next, we see a close-up shot of the advisor’s chair with a suit jacket draped over the back. As we closely watch the chair, we can hear in the background people saying, “Where’s Matt? He must be around here somewhere, his jacket is on his chair.” The camera then quickly cuts to Matt (not wearing his jacket) at a nearby Hooters restaurant enjoying some delicious chicken wings.

Faced with irrefutable evidence, our shamed advisor agrees to do anything we want, as long as we don’t show the video to his boss. Mr. Expert slips on his headset, points to the advisor’s phone and says the dreaded words, “Let’s make some cold calls.” 

For the next week, as our advisor is dialing for dollars, Mr. Expert is right over his shoulder screaming in his ear, “Tell them if they have the money available they should buy some today. Say it. C’mon, say it!” 

I’m still working on the ending but I think the first episode ends with our advisor actually making a sale … a six-month FDIC-insured CD. Am I the only one getting goose bumps here? Stay tuned.

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