It seems like finding examples of clear-headed thinking is getting harder and harder these days. I watch and listen to our politicians and can’t help but think that not only are they out of touch with basic economics, but they seem to miss the boat on an ethical front, as well.
But they aren’t alone. Most professions have to deal with ethics on some level or another, and yet most professions struggle with ethics. There are many examples of entire industries that lack even the basic resemblances of ethics.
Let me begin by turning the microscope on my own profession; the insurance and securities industry. I would love to be able to tell you that we are the shining example of good ethics, but that just wouldn’t be true.
You see, as the business ethics instructor for Kaplan Professional Schools, I get the opportunity to teach thousands of financial planners and business professionals my business ethics course. And if it’s one thing I’ve learn from the years of teaching this course, it’s that our profession is definitely ethically-challenged. I have had hundreds of my peers over the years tell me that they will do what’s in their interest first and their clients’ interest second. Some have rationalized that they have to do what’s in thier best interest in order to stay in business, which is in the client’s best interest anyway. As you already know, this is very flawed thinking.
I was recently a speaker at the Million Dollar Round Table – Top of the Table convention in Phoenix, AZ. In order to be a member of this exclusive group, you must demonstrate, that you are one of Americas most successful advisors. As an active member of this group, I was honored that they wanted me to speak on ethics. What I want to share with you today is that if you ever read about some advisor stealing a few hundred million dollars from someone, these are the type of advisors that could do it. They are smart enough and have the connections to the money. So, it was very interesting to me to hear the comments they shared with me compared to the comments I get when I teach here in Minnesota.
The phrase; the more things change the more things stay the same, comes to mind. You see, it doesn’t seem to matter what level of production you have or what part of the country you come from, people are ethically-challenged everywhere. I had one advisor actually tell me that people are better off with him, even if they don’t get the best products or services!
OK, time to throw in a quick disclaimer. I’m not suggesting that we don’t have great, honest, ethical advisors out there. You just have to make really sure whose interest they are putting first.
I always try and make the case that by doing the right thing 100 percent of the time for clients will ultimately be the best thing for the advisors, as well.
So here’s my call to all financial advisors: Take a closer look at your business practices and incorporate ethics into your day-to-day business model and watch your business take off.
It’s always the right time to do the right thing.