Let me tell you just how excited I was to receive an overly-congratulatory email this morning announcing my selection as one of the “Best of Lakewood: Financial Planners” by an organization I had never heard of!
Check it out!
Sounds great, right? I followed through on the email to see just what this “award” was all about. I think I figured it out:
That’s right folks, you too can be one of Lakewood’s “Top Financial Planners” for the low low price of just $79.99 (or $179.99 if a wall plaque is just not classy enough for your office). This “award” organization is actually in the crystal-display-selling business.
The truth of it is there aren’t too many actual legitimate “awards” for financial professionals. So be the littlest bit skeptical when you see that “Five Star” designation or “Best of” plaque branded on a website. Many of these awards end up being a “best salesman” list, and even some of the better ones (such as NABCAP) are unclear as to their methodology.
Here’s an idea instead of relying on shiny awards for vetting a financial professional or asking for client referrals (I cannot imagine anyone not having three satisfied clients). First, ask for the names of other financial advisors who can speak to this person’s credibility. Then ask for the names of non-financial professionals (such as CPAs, attorneys, etc) who can do the same.
Ask all of these people real questions: How do you know this advisor is credible? How do you know s/he is ethical? How do you know s/he is competent? Why would I work with him/her over another professional?
All of this, of course, comes after you have verified the advisor’s standing with the CFP Board (here’s me), read the advisory firm’s Form ADV (here is my firm’s) and verified the advisor uses a third-party custodian to hold investment accounts.
Unfortunately for the distributors of shiny plaques and crystal sculptures, I decided not to pay to be one of “Lakewood’s Top Financial Planners.” Maybe next year.