The Blind Leading the Blind

In the financial services industry, it is very common to see the blind leading the blind. No offence to the visually handicapped; I am referring to people without adequate financial knowledge providing financial advice to equally clueless individuals.

It is very common for managers in the industry to have very little to no professional qualifications in the field of financial advisory. They are still qualified to be managers because of good sales records. Indeed, most of them do have stellar sales records and are more than capable of producing good salespeople.

Consequently, their agents do not learn proper financial advisory knowledge but are very good at sales techniques like how to prospect for new clients, and how to use skills like neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and closing techniques to bring in sales. They in turn provide “financial advice” to the average laypersons who do not have adequate financial knowledge to defend themselves against sales tactics and end up buying financial products that do not suit themselves.

It is a classic case of the blind leading the blind leading the blind. It is little wonder many people prefer to seek advice on online forums, which often also degenerates into many blind people providing advice to the blind.

I have very deliberately joined a team where my mentor is highly qualified and ethical and thus able to make sure that I am providing proper financial advice to my clients. The company also has well qualified individuals who serve as specialists in various financial fields to provide knowledge and support to advisers. I cannot claim to be completely knowledgeable in all aspects of the vast financial planning world, so such support will enable me to benefit my clients beyond than my own abilities.

Of course, to ensure that I am not “blind” myself and able to value add to my clients, I spend hours and thousands of dollars on absorbing financial knowledge from various training and courses. To some practitioners in the industry, it may be a waste of time – every hour of of time spent on training means an hour not used for cold calling – but improving my own financial knowledge is integral to my business model of delivering the best to my clients.

Every now and then, I will receive emails from people who are interested in joining the industry and yet wanting to be ethical. To me, such people are “blind”, much as I was when I first joined the industry. I usually tell them the hard truth of wanting to be ethical in a sales-dominated industry – not that my negative opinion matters much to someone really keen on joining this industry – and wish them all the best.

Till this date, there are many practitioners who prefer to remain blind. Ignorance is bliss if your morally dubious practices can draw you fat paycheques. Fortunately for my conscience and unfortunately for my bank account, I grew out of the obliviousness.

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