If you’ve traveled in the financial world for any length of time, I bet you’re pretty good at picking financial advisors out of a crowd. I know my skills in this area have been tightly sharpened over the past 20 years. I asked a friend of mine, who works in a broker/dealer, if she could pick out a financial advisor in the crowd. She replied, “Of course I can, they all look alike.”
When I pressed her for more specific details, she couldn’t quite put it into words. “I know it when I see it,” she finally relented. About that time, one of my wholesaler friends arrived with a round of drinks. I asked him the same question, “Can you pick out financial advisors by look? Are there any in this bar tonight, for example?” He paused, deep in thought for a moment, and then said, “Hey dummy, we’re standing in the bar at a broker/dealer conference … they’re all advisors.”
After we all had a good laugh at how stupid I was, we started checking out the crowd. They weren’t, we discovered, all financial advisors. A certain number of the bar patrons were home office (broker/dealer) employees. This crowd was easy to spot. They were the ones acting like they were interested in what the others were saying. There was a lot of head nodding.
Another group that stood out consisted of our good friends, the wholesalers. This crowd was usually a little overdressed and they were the only ones in the room you could hear saying, “Hey, can I buy you another drink?”
The rest of the crowd appeared to be financial advisors. They had a little different look and feel than the others. They tended to drink top shelf booze rather than draft beer. It was the advisors, not the home office employees, who could be heard yelling at the wholesalers, “Hey (insert company name here), what’s a guy got to do to get a drink around here?” My friend replied, “Yep, that guy’s an advisor.”