Call me old fashioned, but I simply do not understand why every time you call an institution or large business, you are forced to jump through an inordinate number of hoops in the form of computer driven prompts, prior to maybe talking to a human being. This seems like a challenge anyone reading this should be able to relate to.
Our modern lives have become so automated we don’t even have to go the grocery store anymore. From paying all of your bills online (which admittedly isn’t very new) to using an app to hire a neighbor’s kid you’ve never met to shovel your driveway, we are losing touch with the analog/tangible side of our identity. I’m sure people would argue for automation by pointing out the “obvious” benefits to productivity. Some may even go further and say all of these technological advances are improving our quality of life.
I would like to push back on both of those arguments.
I honestly believe we are losing our ability to connect with other humans. Frankly, I think it is sad. Although we may be permanently connected to others via our social networks, those relationships are often superficial and fleeting. There are clear merits to being able to send a quick note to your great aunt living 2000 miles away, or catch up with an old classmate, or wish a friend happy birthday. But remember that archaic, outdated technology we call email? Didn’t that suffice as a perfectly sensible way to send a message to anyone you know, instantly? At least email seemed more personal, even if it were still lazier than writing an actual letter.
I don’t think social media is going away, but I do think it needs to change. It should not be the primary medium of communication amongst friends and family. I have a fundamental issue with missing out on a friend’s going away party, an annual work function, or even the birth of a child, just because I don’t have a Facebook page.
I have numerous friends that are irritated with this lack of personal responsibility clouding our culture. Hiding behind a keyboard is a terrible way to live your life. Not only does it create a false reality, but it can be dangerous as well. Children are generally being bombarded with unrealistic ideals and many end up worshiping false idols.
This is terrifying for our future.
The Facebooks, Instagrams, and Twitters of the world are replacing imagination, exploration, and just good ol’ playing in the yard. In today’s culture, the only reason some kids go outside is to get that flawless picture, from just the right angle, in perfect lighting to then go back inside, crop, edit, add a filter, and upload with the obligatory #blessed.
This is ridiculous, but it is a fact.
In our industry, highly trained financial planners are being replaced by call centers whose gates are kept by AI robotic voices. Many people hope to achieve a higher level of efficiency (and lower level of cost) by doing it themselves and spending hours Googling things they don’t understand. After hours of frustration, they call into a call center and talk to a “specialist” who is actually just an average Joe armed with a search engine and a can-do attitude.
More often than not, you will get referred to a “private advisor” that can answer all of the questions the first specialist couldn’t quickly Google the answers to.
Ironically, the private advisor is normally one of the firm’s partners that charges fees for their time and services, just like us. The only difference is they are only available over the phone unless you have a certain arbitrary sum of money. Without that arbitrarily determined account value, you may not even have the option to meet with a legitimate financial planner, who, you guessed it, will charge you for their services.
By all means though, you can do it yourself. Errr I mean, use a Robo “Advisor.” When you have a question that you can’t Google, move to a specialist. And on to a private advisor. Then finally to a real financial planner. Remarkably, this is probably where you started in the first place before you decided to save on fees and automate.
If this sounds like a rant, that's because it is! But, I don’t blame people who are frustrated with the cut rate service they get for exorbitant fees. Why? (**Extra special disclaimer – the following sentence is, in fact, my opinion**) Because most people in this industry are just not that good at what they do. Of course, they will tell you otherwise...
When I go to due diligence meetings to listen to Chief Investment Officers of massive companies provide insight on our investing landscape and hear some of the questions that come out of advisors’ mouths, it horrifies me. What scares me even more, their clients have no idea that their excessive annual fee is paying for extremely elite mediocrity.
I certainly don’t know everything, nor will I ever know everything there is to know about planning and investing, but I work my ass off to be on the bleeding edge of what is out there. I believe in meeting with people face to face in order to build a legitimate relationship with them. Every plan I put in place is comprehensive, in every sense of the word. It is custom designed and built specifically for the person paying me to do it.
That’s the way it should be.
Final Thought: This year, I am going to maintain a physical presence in the lives of my friends and family. I am going to meet my neighbors that I don’t already know. I am going to get involved with my community and volunteer at my church. I will find new clients that need us to help them improve their lives, and they will become part of our family at Capital Financial Group.
Oddly enough, we will probably meet some of these people through our social media pages. How about that for a FINAL THOUGHT!?
1. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.
2. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.