Lessons from Shakespeare on financial advisors: Part 2: The trusted advisor
In Part 1 of this series we discussed how, 400 years after his death, we can still take lessons from Shakespeare when it comes to choosing a trusted advisor. Not only was Shakespeare a wealthy, self-made man and astute investor, but he remains one of the world’s foremost experts on human emotions and psychology. In Part 2 we discuss the importance of quality, professional financial advisor that you can trust.
The trusted advisor is a recurring theme through Shakespeare’s plays – Henry VIII had Cardinal Wolsey, Marc Antony had his chief aide Enobarbus, Othello had his ensign Iago, Cleopatra had her confidante Charmian, King Lear had the loyal Earl of Kent while King John had Phillip the Bastard. Some chose their advisor well, others badly and we can take lessons from all of them.
“All hoods make not monks”
During the Renaissance the crowns and titles of royalty and courtiers and the mitres and hoods of the clergy were proof of status and worth. Their careful use (and abuse!) was part of the social structure. Symbols and titles are used in much the same way by professional advisors today. A raft of professional memberships and letters after a potential advisors name should signal to you that “This advisor is a great one”. Sadly this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, under the current law anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a financial planner. Frighteningly, hairdressers require more work experience before they touch your hair than financial planners do before they advise you on your money. Many who call themselves financial planners are simply salespeople dressed up to impress you. Therefore, the qualifications of a potential advisor are an essential filtering tool helping you choose an advisor.
Industry qualifications – Look for the financial planning industry’s highest qualification, the CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™). This means they are a member of the peak industry body, the Financial Planning Association (FPA), they have completed rigorous study in financial planning, they have extensive industry experience and they abide by a code of ethics and rules of professional conduct. There is really no valid reason why a quality, experienced advisor should not have successfully completed the CFP®.
Trusts friends and colleagues – Referrals are another way to evaluate a financial planner. Ask friends and colleagues who you respect with money who they turn to for financial advice. Avoid the advice of referrers who are paid for referring you.
Experience counts – A successful track record is important. We recommend you seek only an advisor with at least 10 years experience as you want to know they have successfully advised clients through good and bad times – “Experience is by industry achieved. And perfected by the swift course of time”.
Proven knowledge and skills – Regardless of experience, you would never see a doctor who did not hold a degree and nor should you see a financial planner who has not earned one. In addition to the CFP® you should look for an advisor who holds at least an undergraduate degree in finance, commerce, economics or business from a reputable university. Dedicated advisors with a passion for finance will have a higher master’s degree in one of these subjects.
 Henry VIII, Act III, Scene 1. All Shakespeare quotes referenced are from The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works 3rd ed., Arden, 1998
 Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I, Scene 3