I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jeff Bucher, an advisor in Perrysburg, Ohio. During our discussion, Bucher, who founded Citizen Advisory Group, relayed an interesting story, making an analogy of financial advising and whitewater rafting.

“At my seminars I tell people about whitewater rafting and share with them this picture of my wife in Banff, Canada, where the water was 37 degrees,” Bucher says.

“Before the guides let you down the river they scare you. They take you aside and make you sign waivers. They say you might die. They tell you, ‘this is dangerous, this is bad, but we’ve put a guide on the boat to make sure you get down that river safely. And, as long as you listen to him, it should all work out okay and you won’t die.’

“And at that point I show the attendees at the seminar this picture of my wife at the river and she’s smiling because she knows my life insurance situation.”

Bucher tells me the important point here for this industry is that there are two types of guides out there and most consumers don’t realize it.

“There’s a type of guide that will research and look into what’s the best helmet and the best life jacket and the oars in the boat and they’ll make sure you have all the best stuff. They’ll sell it to you then they’ll get up on the bank and watch you go down the river. And if you scream loud enough when things get a little rough, they might be there to sell you something else to try to get you through to the end.

“Then there’s another type of guide. They pretty much do the same thing. They make sure you have the best boat, the best life jacket and the helmet and the oars and they make sure you have the best stuff available. But then they get in the boat with you.

“They go down the river with you and if there’s a problem, they’ve been down this river before. They might even be able to see it before it even happens. And that’s the difference between me as a fiduciary and other advisors that are strictly salespeople. It doesn’t make that person a bad person. But they play by different rules. And as a consumer you better understand what the rules are to that game.”

For more from Daniel Williams, see:

Annuity marketing and the issue of gender

Young swing voters can sway presidential election

2012 Advisor of the Year: Mark Pruitt