One of the top-notch advisory firms profiled in our annual Winner’s Circle cover story manages a tantalizing $700 million in assets under management; another of the firms adds a cool billion to that. I’m reminded of the quip attributed, apocryphally, to the ’60s-era Senate leader Everett Dirksen: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
The Dirksen quote implies that wealth is some kind of plaything for politicians, like the funny money in Monopoly. Yet, if politicians showed the kind of respect for taxpayer money that financial advisors do for their clients’ hard-earned wealth, then government bean counters wouldn’t be expecting a half-trillion-dollar deficit next year.
The mirror image of our spendthrift political class is none other than John Q. Public. Half the horror-filled headlines spooking our economy right now are attributable to his fiscal irresponsibility; the average consumer’s debt is now 140 percent his disposable income, up from 100 percent in 2000.
There is an obvious symmetry here. By and large, I think we get the government we deserve. In our times, we the people have a penchant for extravagance.
In like fashion, I would venture to speculate that, by and large, financial advisors get the clients they deserve, and vice versa.
I can think of a friend who has many times thought about leaving his business, but no matter how much thought he put into his alternative business ideas, he couldn’t leave his day job; it was just too lucrative. The guy just doesn’t disappoint his clients. He’s smart, he’s very straight with them, and he offers excellent service.