There’s a rumor going around that one of Todd Cousino’s clients looked at him during a consultation and saw right through him. That’s probably a tall tale (OK, it’s definitely a tall tale) but not exactly outside the realm of possibility.
You see Cousino, below, was doing the transparency thing before it was cool, before the mainstream media put a bulls-eye on the backs of financial advisors.
Cousino, of Riverview, Mich.-based Cousino Financial, LLC, tells me the story behind his idea of being an ethical advisor. He began his career, as many of you do, in a captive company. The company, he says, steered him in a direction of what he should sell whether or not it was in the best interest of the consumer.
“I would go home and be miserable about it. I couldn’t hold my head up.” That sick feeling stuck with him and over time he worked out a plan. “My barometer is simple. If I wouldn’t do it for myself, I’m not going to do it for my client.”
For Cousino it boils down to how he feels at the end of the day. And, at the end of the day, he wants “to be able to go home, to hold my head up and look my kids in the eye.”
Before the financial crash in 2008, Cousino was already ahead of the game, devising a plan for transparency that he could live with and that his clients could benefit from. While talking over the phone, he quotes Gandhi to me as an inspiration on how he wanted to build his practice: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Once he found an initial foundation to how he wanted to conduct business with clients, everything else sort of took off from there. At that time, he says, “we decided to really put transparency into the practice.”
With every consultation and with every contract, Cousino does something that leaves other advisors shaking their heads: “We show (the client) what our compensation will be.”
The Full Monty
Wait, what? Quoting Gandhi is one thing, but giving the Full Monty of disclosures, I mean, c’mon…