Sellers vs. Buyers

If you watched the College Football Playoffs, you undoubtedly saw a commercial from a certain insurance company.  It must have aired fifteen times.  Typically I ignore the ads, but one phrase kept grabbing my attention and drawing my ire.  The ad was referring to the company’s salespeople and saying “we call them advisers”.

It reminded me again how difficult it is for consumers to tell the difference between financial salespeople and fiduciary advisers, like Armor, who work as advocates for our clients, rather than advocates of certain products.  This is not to say that there are not some brokers and insurance agents who provide a tremendous service to their clients. But at an industry level, the insurance and brokerage industries have a history of co-opting terms like Financial Planning and Wealth Management into sales strategies. It irritated me that they were taking aim at another term.

Since the 1940’s, the financial services industry has been split into two groups from a regulatory standpoint.  There is the ‘Sell Side’ (broker dealer firms regulated by FINRA), whose job it is to sell products and the ‘Buy Side’ (Registered Investment Advisers or RIAs regulated by the SEC), who act as buyers for the clients who have hired them. Over the last twenty five years with the broad adoption mutual funds, ETFs, and wrap accounts, it has become harder and harder to tell the difference between the buyers and the sales people.  In some cases, individuals attempt to act in both capacities.

At Armor, we are buyers only.  We act as advocates in a fiduciary capacity for our clients.  We strive to be proactive, forward-looking, and client and solution oriented.  We have built our business model to reduce conflicts of interest and to put ourselves on the same side of the table as our clients.  It is our belief that acting in our client’s best interest is core to all advice that we give.

So the next time you are watching a football or basketball game and hear a financial pitch, remember that while anyone can give advice, not all advisers are working for you.