“Brand: The name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” –American Marketing Association Dictionary.

We all know that clear branding is important to the success of any commercial undertaking. The financial planning profession is no exception. Folks need to know what to expect. Otherwise, how can they trust?

Unfortunately, financial planning has been unable to achieve such clarity.

Even with all the work that has gone into the CFP marks and such constants as the “six-step process” and purported fidelity to the fiduciary standard, we still have an extraordinary amount of confusion and obfuscation. People do not know what they will ultimately get when they work with a financial planner—a product pitch or a professional engagement.

They can’t trust themselves. The CFP Board’s ad proves that a smile, a suit and a haircut suffice to build confidence. Moreover, financial advisor frauds are regularly exposed. Combine these with the financial services salespeople’s continued resistance to being labeled fiduciaries while cheerfully calling themselves “financial planners.”

This is our fault. Simply put, financial planning has failed to define its particular mission and purpose. Instead, we have encouraged confusion. To be specific, we have tolerated the fact that individuals with antithetical vocational callings consistently present themselves to the public as effectively fungible and interchangeable.

Let’s start with the basics. What does a financial planner do? Are we salespeople or uniquely personal advisors? Are we individual fiduciary leaders of extraordinary significance in the modern era? Or are we some amalgam? Or do we have a serious confusion factor?

I believe financial planners have a mission of working with individuals and families and their relationships with money and the awesome forces that it generates. Others would contend this mission to be the sale and placement of miscellaneous financial products and services.

First « 1 2 3 4 5 » Next