Bosco is eight years old, and he has been living with us for over six years now. He is the friendliest dog you could ever meet. Unfortunately, he suffers from severe canine halitosis. But it is not as bad as it sounds, because as some of you have likely figured out, canine halitosis is just a fancy term for doggy bad breath. Sorry if I had you going there for a second, but I wanted to make a point here.
When you deal with professionals, the terms that they use on daily basis amongst their peers often creep into their discussions with “regular people” who are less familiar with their jargon. So you may find yourself subject to advisors who speak to you in a way that is difficult to follow.
Many people who are guilty of this kind of poor communication do not even realize that they are not getting through to their listeners. Some actually do it on purpose (even if only subconsciously) in order to make themselves seem superior. If you are the type who thinks “if the dog has bad breath, just tell me he has bad breath, don’t make it sound like some deadly disease”, then I hear you loud and clear.
Unfortunately many people will not recognize themselves as having this fault. After we sold the operations of our family business, it took me a few years to figure out what I would do career-wise. After a stint as an intellectual property licensing consultant I began to take on more of a portfolio manager role in the family office, which lead me to sign up for the CFA program.
Some friends looked at me like I was crazy. Why should I put myself through the trouble of studying all those hours in order to get another certificate on my wall and three more letters after my name? I worked for my family business, who was I trying to impress? The truth is, I did it for defensive purposes first and foremost. I knew that as someone who managed wealth, I would have people approaching me regularly, trying to convince me to invest in their products or services.
Many of those people would have those three letters, CFA, after their names. Those people must be smart, because many people enroll in the CFA program but a large percentage never get through it. So if they tell me that what they are selling is good for me, who am I to argue? Well, when they see the same three letters after my name, hopefully they understand that I understand.
You may think that this shows some insecurity on my part, and you may be right. But I am glad that I did it, and truthfully it was one of the most challenging things that I have taken on. The fact that I signed up for the program a week after our first child was born made it that much more of a challenge.
At the time I did not foresee the current career turn that I am making. Offering services to other families would not have even been a consideration if I did not have those credentials. Having an understanding of the financial products out there allows me to be kind of a translator, helping to explain seemingly complicated ideas to those who are not used to the concepts.
It is also a lot easier to ask questions for someone else. “I am pretty sure that I get it, but could you please explain to Mrs. Jones why she should add this product to her current holdings at this time?” is better than just nodding your head even though you are not sure you understood. When you get right down to it, if you cannot explain it to someone else in simple terms, you probably don’t understand it well enough yourself. And if that is the case, you probably shouldn’t be investing in it.