Lessons from a "Minnow"
One of my favorite TV shows growing up was a silly tale of seven castaways shipwrecked on a lush tropical island in the Pacific. It was called "Gilligans' Island," and for those of you not old enough to remember great quality entertainment, the show was addictive. One of the more memorable episodes was when the castaways came across a Japanese soldier who had been left behind on the island by the Imperial forces in 1943, and being unaware that the war had been over for more than twenty years, was still fighting as he took all the castaways captive. This poor patriotic fellow was a victim of bad communication.
When I think of how people impart information to one another, it's really quite amazing at how far we've come. Think about it, when the British forces surrendered to the American revolutionary forces, the folks back home in England didn't even know about it for weeks. How long did it take for Columbus to let his benefactors know that he had, in fact, discovered a New World? How many men died in battle after Grant surrendered to Lee in Appomattox because they didn't know the war was over?
In 1858 the first transatlantic cable was laid between North America and Europe, and for the first time messages could be sent across an ocean in minutes. In 1876 the telephone was invented, making instant communication available to the common man (it was necessary to learn Morse code before the telephone, and messages had to be slowly tapped out by hand. Today, in one of the greatest leaps in technology ever, we have collectively decided that "text messaging" is the way to go! Alexander Graham Bell must be turning over in his grave.), and after that technology began to take off. Today, information is shared instantaneously worldwide, and even communication across galaxies is now possible!
So why hasn't your stockbroker communicated with you?
What's the Problem Here?
Believe it or not, the biggest compaint that customers lodge against their financial advisor is that he or she hardly ever communicates with them. They are promised the moon whenever they are being courted as a new customer, but once that contract is signed, it's sayonara, baby.
If that has been the experience with your broker, I'm sorry. I'm going to let the cat out of the bag now and tell you why that is: your stockbroker is really a salesman, and if he is an employee of a major wirehouse such as Edward Jones or Fidelity he has certain sales quotas he has to meet. It's not that he doesn't like you anymore, it's just that he doesn't have time for you. If he doesn 't meet those quotas he's out of a job.
Good financial services require good communication. It's just that simple. At NavStar we have some minimum communication standards. Here are just a couple of ways that I believe we're different:
- Regularly Scheduled Meetings
Our practice is to regularly schedule at least semi-annual meetings with our investment clients, and more often if needed, or as the client desires. Your investment portfolio could be one of your most valuable assets, and we consider ourselves your partner in helping to grow it.
- No Sales Quotas
I am not captive to any wirehouse or insurance company. My fidelity and responsibility lies with my customers. I don't have to waste time fulfilling quotas or going to sales "pep rallies" while neglecting your portfolio. I am quite free and able to act as your fiduciary advisor.
- Weekly Newsletters and E-Mail Communications
Every week we reach out to our clients with Wall Street updates and financial news that may impact them. Education is important to us, and we believe it's crucial to our clients.
- "The Rudder"
"The Rudder" is our quarterly newsletter, and I believe it's one of a kind, as newsletters go. I've tried to keep this one light and full of wit, sprinkled with financial tips and insights. If you like a good chuckle, you'll love "The Rudder!" A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Many of the articles in this newsletter are written by our clients.
Several client friendly events are scheduled each year. Many of them are educational but some are just social. We love it when our clients talk to one another!
- Personal Calls and an Open-Door Policy
Have you ever watched the third straight day of market declines on MSNBC and wondered why your broker isn't calling you? Believe it or not, those are usually my favorite days to call clients. Why? Those are the days that our low-risk, low-volatility investment philosophy really look good! I also have an open-door policy when it comes to all of our valued customers. If you need to see me you can.
Excellent Service = Excellent Communication
I once analyzed the portfolio of a lady who hadn't spoken with her stockbroker since the day she'd come onboard with him. He had her in a lot of truly awful funds that had performed poorly, and with much more risk than she considered acceptable (which, by the way is very common). She ended up going back to him, pointing out the flaws that I had shown her, and he obliged her by moving her into another batch of equally-awful funds, oh, and by the way, collecting a handsome commission while doing it. This kind of thing makes me angry. Does your broker wait for you to complain before he does the right thing? Or does anything at all?
Why not give us a try at NavStar and let's take a look at how a solid investment strategy, along with regular and honest communication, can produce positive results and maybe even change your attitude regarding professional financial services.
Until next time,
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