The Blatt Watch by Peter Blatt: The Biggest Complaint Regarding Your Financial Advisor

My family and I just came back from Cape Cod. We spent two different days on the water. We had two different experiences, both unexpected. My wife and I discussed smooth sailing followed by rough water boating. This reminds me of what I hear as the biggest complaint regarding financial advisors.

Financial AdvisorThe first day we rented a sail boat, it came with a quick lesson. My two boys, wife and I spent the next two hours going from side to side each time we tacked. The boom (the big stick holding the horizontal side of the sail boat) hit my head and almost dumped my oldest boy into the water. The dream of floating on a smooth sailboat quickly evaporated. It was damp, wet and cold, and not what we expected. We stayed upbeat and the kids will probably sail again. We learned some hard lessons about being inexperienced and sailing without proper guidance.

Financial AdvisorThe second day, we rented a motor boat. I was the captain; we had a quick lesson on following the channel markers and reading a map. The map blew away, but luckily the boat had a working GPS. We stopped at a private beach and had a fun picnic.  We came close to seals, and saw the most beautiful beaches. The water was calm and I learned how to properly ‘drop’ an anchor. We had prepared for cold, wet, rough, water by bringing enough layers of clothes. We didn’t need the extra cloths but the extra sandwiches sure came in handy – it was an amazing experience.

The unexpected happens in all aspects of life – good, bad or indifferent. The way to get through the bad is your ability to handle those moments and situations. The biggest complaint I hear regarding financial advisors is their inability to manage the unexpected. Sometimes the water is rough (do you have enough of your investments in the conservative portfolio), or sometimes very smooth (how much common stock do you own), or sometimes in the middle (do you have any MLPs).  Also, while proper planning helps, it does not always help. The thing that saved us on our motor boat was a GPS; this allowed us to ‘check in’ where we were located and adjust. I compare this to quarterly meetings. I expect that everybody will make mistakes; the key is to preplan enough and be ready to make appropriate adjustments. I don’t know if you like sailing, boating, or even hate the water, all I know is that you never will know exactly what will happen. There will always be the unexpected.

Peter Blatt

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