A few years ago I met with a financial planner who was probably the same age, or a few years older, as me. We chatted a little, discussed some of my future plans, and basically he tried to sell me on some products. It was all in all not exactly a valuable meeting but part of that was my fault, I didn’t really have future plans. I had just graduated college, started getting my first few paychecks, and I had no plans for anything. I was just living life as best I could now that I had some real money. If I met with a financial planner now, it’d probably work out a little differently.
This guy lost $6M overnight.  David Shorr had been a long time employee of Lehman and amassed quite a little collection of shares, all of which were rendered worthless on Monday. David Shorr works as a “wealth adviser,” a senior VP, at Morgan Stanley now and it made me wonder if I’d actually want the guy being my adviser (not that I’d be able to afford him!).
What if you found out that your financial planner was bad about his or her own finances? Or a financial advisor or broker whose investment portfolio was a mess? Would that change your perception of his or her advice? Would you drop them if you discovered they were bad?
I probably would.
I agree with the argument that being a good financial planner has nothing to do with executing a financial plan. A good financial planner needs strong organizational skills, good analytical skills, and a whole host of other skills that have nothing to do with sticking with a plan. A good planner can establish a savings plan that can set you up nicely to meet your future needs, given some assumptions, but it’s ultimately up to you to save. The financial planner with bad finances could simply be bad at that last part, the saving part. I agree with all that.
But would you hire a landscaper if his front yard looked like it hadn’t even been mowed in a year?