“Bullshit is everywhere.” – George Carlin
Politicians, academics, lawyers, salesmen, businessmen, modern “artists,” mechanics, journalists, internet marketers, scientists, religious leaders, psychotherapists, life coaches, models, fitness trainers, nutritionists, and… even financial planners… bullshit exists in practically every profession.
Now, that doesn’t mean every profession is bad, of course.
It just means you need to become skilled in the art and science of bullshitology.
Here’s what I mean:
It’s easy to say anything. It’s much more difficult to demonstrate that something works (or appears to work). And it is even more difficult to legitimately prove that something is true.
And sometimes the right decision is not something you can prove conclusively. Sometimes, it’s a matter of probability or likeliness.
So, the way you get good at sniffing out fly food is by asking questions related to demonstration and proof and then making rational judgments based on what you already know to be true (assuming you do, in fact, know what you THINK you know).
If you DON’T know much about a subject or topic (e.g. money and finance), then ask your advisor to explain his or her position to you, why they came to that conclusion, what the shortcomings (if any) of his ideas are, what his critics say about his (and other similar ideas), what his critic’s ideas are (in-depth) and why they are wrong.
That’s a tall order for most financial advisors and most will not give you the type of answers you’re looking for. That’s OK. What that means is they are unwilling or unable to explain what they know and what they do not know and it’s probably a good sign you should be working with someone else.
If an advisor DOES give you an explanation of what his critics say, go check out what the critics say in their own words. Is it accurate? Can the advisor explain his critics better than his critics can explain themselves? If so, this is a good sign that you have a good advisor who can communicate ideas effectively.
It also increases the odds that your advisor has good ideas of his own, since he presumably understands the alternatives and decided they weren’t correct.
But, I’m not sure how many folks are up to the task. It takes a lot of work to analyze ideas and “interview” experts.
Case in point: most people on my email list didn’t bother to open yesterday’s email, let alone read (and understand) it.
And… at least one person unsubscribed.
Which is fine.
There’s nothing wrong with folks going their own way.
Such is life… but it doesn’t have to be your life.
It’s up to you.