OPINION: To lie to your doctor, dentist or dietician out of guilt is human. To your financial adviser, too. But in the long run, honesty pays. In the case of your financial adviser, it will literally pay, writes Andile Jonas.
I’m in the privileged position to have known my financial adviser for donkey’s years. We were school mates, and later the friendship developed into a professional one, too. But trust is not a one-way street, and there are many levels to it.
My years in the industry have taught me that building a relationship with a financial adviser may take the same effort as starting a friendship. It’s also not a simple relationship – you must trust the person with your needs and money affairs, which are very personal.
I explain to friends that we must trust a general practitioner with a lot if we want to get better and stay healthy. A dentist usually sees your dental hygiene diligence by just opening your mouth. An adviser is your financial practitioner, so to speak.
My first layer of trust is that my financial adviser is qualified and keeps up the academic rigour. But it is not my only reason for trusting him.
Another layer of trust is that we are the same age. I won’t say that I’ll trust an older or a younger authentic professional any less. But he understands my plight; we’re at the same life stage, and our kids are similar ages.
It makes it very relatable for me. We’re having a human-to-human discussion, as opposed to a mere client-service provider discussion.
But the biggest and most compelling reason for my trust is that my wife gets along with him. That is the dealbreaker. If you’re not around anymore, your family must deal with your financial adviser. Plus, we speak to him, and plan, as a couple.
I know of a financial adviser who refuses to speak to clients unless it is as a couple, and I agree. This is, if you don’t, like a couple I know, like leading completely separate lives.
I believe our financial fate as significant others are so intertwined; mine is so dependent on what my wife does, and vice versa. What we plan for retirement and life insurance is a shared burden.
If we don’t know what the other is doing, it defeats the purpose of planning. We need to know what we are providing for together: Will the house be paid-up? Are we going to owe any money? What about our wills and trusts?
We are not only planning for a long life, but also for thereafter.
I believe our discussions with our financial adviser are a sort of record of advice for our wishes, something that will give our family comfort one day.
At some stage your conversation with your financial adviser may be uncomfortable because they put a mirror in front of you – you want to achieve this goal, and this is what it is going to take.
At every point of the way, you must make decisions, about contributions, your lifestyle and your behaviour. It’s their job to keep us honest.
My experience is that people lie to their financial advisers because they don’t stick to their own plans. I can almost hear it in my mind’s eye: Yes, I did go to the gym five times a week to get a discount on my medical aid.
But then they didn’t. Or they keep quiet about that bonus spent on handbags and holidays, instead of a retirement top-up on their retirement annuity before the end of the tax year.
I know some people will lie about an expensive, unplanned holiday, too. I prefer to come clean. I don’t want any leniency from my adviser. I’ll look him in the eye and say this is what we want, even if we say we don’t want it anymore, and we have to stick to it.
To lie to your doctor, dentist or dietician out of guilt is human. To your financial adviser, too. But in the long run, honesty pays. In the case of your financial adviser, it will literally pay.
* Andile Jonas, head of Marketing at Momentum Investo.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or Independent Media.