Bought or Sold?



Lately, I have been getting endless solicitations about all manners of newfangled financial products. They come in the form of emails and calls from people who insist we know each other (sorry, never heard of you or your firm) hawking products I must have in my portfolio.

Hey, our director of marketing is in your neighborhood next week, and we would love a quick sit down to show you…

I have long believed there are certain products that must be sold, otherwise, no one is really going to bother. Some of these are useful (insurance) while others are mostly worthless (extended warranties). But for the most part, my preference is for products to be bought, not sold. This is the model behind everything we do at RWM.

When people buy a product, they understand its value. They see that it fills a need they have. They have considered the cost and found it to be a worthwhile exchange of money for services to be rendered. There is a value proposition contained therein that is viewed as mutually beneficial.

When people are sold a product, they are not fully convinced of these things. They may regret the purchase later because they either are not sure of the need or of the value. The experience is unpleasant because it is uncomfortable being browbeaten into parting with your dollars for a product or service you may not truly want.

The phrase “Buyer’s Remorse” can sometimes be a misnomer. Yes, someone bought something and is subsequently unhappy with the purchase decision, but I think financial services needs a more precise phrase: If you have buyer’s remorse of an investment purchase, well perhaps you were less a buyer than a “Sellee;” in this instance, the phrase “Sellee’s Regret” better reflects these kinds of transactions. This is why so many states require a 3-day cooling-off period where a buyer can cancel a hard-sell contract without consequence.

Regardless, the entire process we created around prospective clients who come to us for help is about buying, not selling. I know some people after a lifetime of being sold bullshit have a hard time understanding this. This is the beauty of the fiduciary model, where we are paid a fee for offering advice and not selling products.

This manifests itself in a variety of ways: Primarily, clients can buy as much or as little advice as they need.1 My experience has been those prospective clients who buy services are much happier and more satisfied — with the experience, the relationship, and the end results — than prospective clients who get sold those same services. This is due in large part to a perception of choice and control as much as anything. Regardless, I consider myself very fortunate that my path led me to a point a decade or more ago where people were buying and I was not selling.

Consumers of financial services should ask themselves that question: Am I buying this or am I being sold this? The answer could help you make better decisions.



What Should You Be Paying for Investment Advice? (April 9, 2019)

Our Exorbitant Privilege (June 19, 2018)

What is your Value Add ? (April 12, 2018)

“Never Buy House Product…” (September 6, 2012)




1. If you want to buy more than the traditional wealth firm’s planning and asset management, you can purchase everything from direct indexing to tax filing to a digital assets to an insurance review to a platform of alternatives. If you want to buy less, we have a simple allocation with a dedicated advisor that is less intensive and less expensive than traditional planning.


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