A few years ago I inherited a share of my uncle’s IRA. With it, I inherited his financial advisor. I was paying the advisor 1.5% of the portfolio value each year to manage the investments. This fee also enabled me to meet with him quarterly and get his advice on retirement.
The first time I spoke with this advisor, it was ten months after my uncle passed. I had called his office to get some answers to some estate administration questions I had.
What I know should have been a 5-10 minute conversation warped into a 35-40 minute call. I gave him the social cues the conversation was wrapping up, the advisor just kept going. I eventually had to get abrupt.
Why’d you stick with him?
I thought my uncle knew something I didn’t.
My uncle was a difficult man to please. I represented him on a legal matter when I was a newly minted lawyer. He was indecisive, squirmed at the idea of risk, and wanted outcomes that weren’t realistic. He wanted me to validate decisions and was perturbed when I gave my honest advice. It was an eye-opening experience as a young lawyer and a as a nephew.
I recall him asking me to explain things to him, over and over again. He would want me to explain every single aspect of what we were doing, from taxes, to applications and entries. He would get stuck in the minutia. No matter how easy I made things, my uncle would make it unnecessarily complicated.
It should come as no surprise, his financial advisor did the same thing. It was exhausting.
What made you think about ending the relationship?
I found that I was spending as much, or more time dealing with my advisor than if I had just been keeping a pulse on the market myself.
When we had telephone calls and in-person meetings, we’d get lost in a merry-go-round of what-if’s and anecdotes. He provided information I didn’t ask for, didn’t want, and frankly wasn’t relevant to anything we were doing. I could not get out of an interaction with him without it sucking two hours out of my life. I don’t have time for that.
What was the final straw?
Prior to our last meeting I made it very clear to him we needed to stay on task and be more judicious with time. I am there to discuss business, get-in, get-out. As I walked into his office in May of 2020, he was holding a mask and looked at me and said, “do you think these things work?”
I’m not a health expert, a virologist, or physician. Real talk, my only thought after Bio 101 was, “yeah, I’m not sticking around for 102.”
The next 90 minutes were a mix of anecdotes, me trying to politely excuse myself, and an exercise in self-control.
What happened after you ended the relationship?
Relationships end. It is a fact of life. If I have a client that has come to the decision to end a relationship with me, I respect it. Where can I send the file? Let me get you a final invoice.
Not this guy. I get an unscheduled call to my office because he wants to work it out. That conversation lasted approximately 35 seconds before I ended the call.
Don’t pay people to suck your time and energy.
What do you look for now?
I look for a demonstration of competence, ease of working together, and value. If I dread an interaction or working with an individual is making my life more difficult, it’s time for a change.