So much outstanding talent and an abundant of well-established firms out there in the investment management field, how one would go about selecting the right one that is an optimal fit. I recommend a Three C criterion to guide the selection process: Competency; Character; and Culture; and all three must be vigilantly and consistently guarded by principled and responsible leadership of the firm.
Competency. Change in inevitable. World never stops; why should our learning. Does the firm have a mindset of lifelong learning? Is the firm a learning organization? Is the sense of wonder, curiosity, discovery, ceaseless pursuit of excellence embedded in the firm DNA? Education and learning do not cease at college graduation, at that first degree from an elite educational institution received say 20 years ago. So much has changed since then; world is changing at such a fast pace, how one can possibly serve clients and be their advisor without an unyielding commitment to continuously learn and grow, update and expand one’s skill sets, ceaselessly and regularly.
Character. You will say what good are competency and an incomparable, brilliant talent if character is lacking; when all actions, without an exception, are not guided by an uncompromising standards of ethics and integrity. We agree with you, wholeheartedly: superior talent without character, integrity, without pursuit of truth is meaningless and as we have seen over the last decade, even perilous. The first and foremost question a client must ask the advisor: can I trust you? Harvard’s Center of Public Leadership observed that United States is facing a crisis of trust and its 2011 National Leadership Index was lowest in its history. The Center noted, “…Americans’ unhappiness with their leaders is approaching the point where it threatens the country’s stability and coherence….” Immanuel Kant wrote, “Do what’s right, no matter the cost.” Confirm that quality in your wealth manager.
The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote close to 1800 years ago:
“Bear in mind that the measure of a man [woman] is the worth of the things he [she] cares about. Are my guiding principles healthy and robust? On this hangs everything.” The Emperor’s Handbook, http://www.amazon.com/Emperors-Handbook-New-Translation-Meditations/dp/0743233832
The wise Emperor’s words could well serve as a guiding principle in deciding whose advice one heeds and values.
Culture. Finally, look into the culture of the firm. Does it have a strong leadership that ensures that the espoused standards of competency, character, and pursuit of excellence are deeply embedded in its culture? Does the leadership walk the talk and lead by example, live the espoused firm values?