Over the past two weeks I've attend two conferences titled "The Future of Finance" presented by two different organizations. To be fair there is a connection between the said organizations but the delivery of ideas and positions are quite different. One organization relies on the academic and government careerist point of view which was predictably hostile to past activities without taking any reasonable amount of accountability. The other organization presents experienced financial industry stalwarts, some of whom have taught college part time and spent the time flirting with the endless experiments that sprang from the industry only to embrace the new normal dogma (and add that they questioned those products all along).
However, while I applaud the ongoing debate regarding the need for more trust and transparency in the financial services industry I can't help thinking that what was strongly missing from the events was perhaps less talk articulating the problem and more talk on fixing the problem. For example knowing there is a need to be more transparent, albeit obvious to most, is not the same as actually knowing how to recognize it. Among the primary goals I commit to are a non-conflicted ecosystem for my clients that start with assurances of my accessibility at anytime. Another is to focus on my asset management services and to support the meaningful importance of my credibility through a steady diet of continuing education in an industry that experiences elusive changes in perspective with a frequency comparable to the markets themselves. But that's where I stop, because unlike many in the financial services industry the advice most commonly provided is so with the aim to deliver products. And in the instance where discussion can be had regarding insurance, estate planning or tax services, advice can easily blend into a lecture on the benefits, rather than the needs. These are areas where transparency is easily confused. That's why the difference for me begins with my experience first and in areas that I openly profess marginal knowledge it's my experience with insurance, estate planning and tax burdens that steers my solutions for which the outcome for clients is talking to a professional not a holistic generalist.
Now in projecting the contributions needed to fund a retirement plan I can't underestimate the value, while understanding the effect of tax rates, inflation rates and the average volume of life changes (kids, homes, jobs, parents), to having a great investment plan. And if at any time we decided to liberate state lines to bring down insurance costs, embrace broad tort reform or overcome the barriers to simplification of our tax system, the level of transparency that would emerge would take the world of financial services that much closer to the trust it so desperately craves.