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Financial Planning > College Planning

FA Fear Factor

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While glancing through a financial magazine, I came across an article discussing some of the top “worries or fears” of financial advisors. The magazine asked financial advisors what it is they worry most about their industry. Some 300 advisors responded to this poll.

As I looked at some of the worries, the lack of originality stood out: eroding public confidence, tax law changes, political irresponsibility, FINRA and on and on. Yawn.

Really? That’s what financial advisors fear the most? Granted, they might be concerned, but actually worried or afraid? C’mon, let’s be real. I know what financial advisor fear really is.

In fact, I’m pitching CNBC on a new financial advisor reality program called Financial Advisor Fear Factor. My show is a cross between Fear Factor and the game “Truth or Dare.”

My ideal host is the original Money Honey herself, Maria Bartiromo. Cue the announcer please: “Let’s play FA Fear Factor [audience cheering]!”

Our host casually flips her hair back, looks directly into the camera, licks her lips and says, “Let’s meet our contestant.”

The announcer introduces our first contestant as Biff, a successful wirehouse advisor from Greenwich, Conn. Biff attended Harvard and nothing that comes out of him stinks.

Our second contestant is Matt. Matt works for a folksy little firm in Cuba, Ill. He went to work there mainly because it was the only broker-dealer that would take him. Matt was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Midway Tap School of Bartending.

“For our first challenge,” Maria says, “you have the choice of laying in a box of worms while being tasered. Or, you can explain to one of your top clients how it’s in his best interest to pay you an 8% commission for a variable annuity. What’ll it be boys?”

Biff smugly states, “I don’t sell variable annuities.”

Matt says, “I’ll take the worms.”

At the completion of Round One, paramedics attend to Matt, and Biff moves on to Round Two. The host explains to the audience that in this round Biff will be hooked up to a lie detector machine. If the machine detects a lie, Biff will receive an electric shock.

“What Biff doesn’t know is that we’ve secretly flown in two of his top clients to ask him these next questions,” our host says. “Say hello to Dr. Fortman, a 20 year managed money client. Biff handles all of Dr. Fortman’s personal fortune and his company’s 401(k) plan.”

Dr. Fortman approaches the microphone and says hello to Biff. Biff replies with an uneasy smile. Sweat balls can be seen forming on Biff’s forehead.

“Biff,” Dr. F starts, “Let’s talk management fees for a second. Is it really 10 times more expensive for you to manage my million dollar account than it is to manage a 100K account?”

Biff says, “I’ll take the shock please, Maria.”

As Biff recovers from the shock, he sees his biggest client, the head of a large college endowment fund, approach the microphone. “Biff” he says, “do you think it’s right to charge a management fee when you actually have a third party money manager managing the assets?”

As the camera pans back to Biff for his answer, all you see is an empty chair. The camera quickly pans to the right and catches Biff running for the exit.

As the theme music starts up, Maria says, “Tune in next week for another episode of Financial Advisor Fear Factor. Our contestants will be one of the country’s top index annuity salespeople and the owner of an oil and gas alternative investment partnership. You won’t want to miss that.”

Fade to black. See you at the Emmys!


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