David H. Kinder, RFC®, ChFC, CLU
Biased Financial Advice? Say It Isn't So!
Updated: Jan 18
I'm going to say something shocking... so I hope you're sitting down. Ready?
ALL financial advisors and insurance agents have a bias! Whew! Confession really IS good for the soul!
The question is... why do advisors have the biases they do? Where does it come from - besides their employers?
Let's start with the two most popular Financial Entertainers: Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey.
What are THEIR biases? Follow the money. Who are their sponsors (besides their publishers)? Who advertises during their shows? Who benefits from their celebrity status (besides themselves)? Biases are okay... as long as they are "out on the table".
Now, let's go into the financial profession itself: The CFP credential and those who advocate for "fee only" advice.
There is an agenda here. The agenda is to promote the "fee-only" practitioner as "the only advisors who REALLY have YOUR best interests in mind because they don't 'sell for commissions'."
These types have an agenda that is VERY popular with the financial media. Most financial commentators in articles have a CFP and advocate to use a "fee-only" advisor so you get "the best objective advice".
What's the downside? The downside is that (in my admittedly biased, yet expert opinion), these advisors don't "keep up" with their education. They don't have to. They don't learn about other strategies. All they do is "churn" (I mean) "sell" financial plans and advice for a fee. Is their really great ideas and advice out there from these fee-only planners that you can't 'google' for yourself? This article would seem to prove that point: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/11/99percent-of-americans-dont-use-a-financial-advisor-heres-why.html
However, this 'agenda' does have people and organizations that back that particular message and image. The CFP educational curriculum is taught in colleges all across the United States. They have a desire to become a standard and 'regulator' of financial planning - and for those who have the CFP, don't misunderstand: they ARE your regulator based on their required practice standards that you voluntarily choose to ascribe to uphold.
The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning has many various sponsors:
Makes me wonder what's "in it for them" to align themselves with a movement to ban commissions or support a movement that "fee only" is the only moral way to be compensated in financial services?
Okay, enough on that.
"But David, you have the CLU and ChFC designations. Aren't those backed by insurance companies?"
Yes it is. Let's talk about it. The American College was founded by Solomon Huebner to advance the image and competency of the professional life insurance agent. He introduced the first financial credential (other than CPA) called CLU for Chartered Life Underwriter. Later the College grew its offerings to include more educational programs including a Masters of Science in Financial Services, a Masters of Science in Management, and until recently, a PhD in financial planning. The ChFC, is the College's competitive offering and answer to the CFP. I have both the CLU and ChFC credentials from The American College.
Who sponsors The American College? We can learn more about that in their Centers for Excellence: https://www.theamericancollege.edu/resources/centers-of-excellence
New York Life Center for Retirement Income
Penn Mutual Center for Veteran's Affairs
State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services
Northwestern Mutual Granum Center for Financial Security
MassMutual Center for Special Needs
Do you think it's possible that these institutions may have an "agenda" behind various certifications? Of course. The question really is - can this education truly help me towards my financial goals and objectives? Or even SURPASS what I thought my financial goals and objectives could be?
If you read my blog articles, you can easily tell that I'm "pro-insurance" - not because I'm "a company man"... but because it's sorely misunderstood. There's just not enough detailed information out there that's easily accessible and understood by most people (unfortunately).
This image is funny, but there's a lot of truth to it. It's interesting that I can (generally) label the kind of advisor one is by the list of credentials after their names. Match that up with a firm name, and I have a great idea of what they are all about.
Kim Butler, a former CFP certificant, NAILS it in her video regarding designations and media bias.
So, every time you read a financial article, check out their biases and what they are advocating. Go deeper to see what the true motivations are behind the article. You may be surprised.