Advanced Qualifications Help Advisors Stand Out
Source: FA-IQ @ IMCA 2017, Feb. 9, 2017
BRUCE LOVE, MANAGING EDITOR, FINANCIAL ADVISOR IQ: Hi. This is Bruce Love with Financial Advisor IQ. And I'm here with Kevin Sanchez, Vice-Chair of IMCA. Kevin, there's been a lot of disruption in the industry the last year or so. But one thing's for certain – we know people are looking more closely at their advisors' qualifications. Just how important are qualifications really?
KEVIN SANCHEZ, VICE CHAIRMAN, IMCA: In terms of the way the customer thinks, they are inundated with information about how they should invest, how they should evaluate the way somebody is taking care of their money. And obviously, there's the ability to pick and choose, with a lot more input than they've ever seen. So with a quarter million plus people giving advice, how do you make that choice?
If you take a look at the disruption of the last year, or even the last 10 or 20 years, with the proliferation of information about investing, I think the people who really are concerned with, take the best care of me, get to know me, make sure you understand how to take care of money and my concerns. I think people look for people who are certified, the same way you and I might check on somebody who's going to be our doctor, or a specialist who's going to do a specialized surgery, you want to make sure that they've got the strong background, aside from just being a general physician, to take care of you. I think most consumers want somebody who has, not only the level of knowledge to be an advisor or a consultant or a broker-- whomever you're seeing-- but they want to know that, are you doing things to stay smart? Are you keeping the saw sharp in today's environment?
And a lot of people in this industry – if you really want to serve your client well – you'll get advanced certifications, whether they're through IMCA or other organizations. But they want to be the best they can. And they want an ongoing stream of information to make them the best advisors. And I think looking at certifications is a very smart way for consumers to do that today.
BRUCE LOVE: So if you want to advance your career or you just simply want to show to your clients that you're working towards being a better advisor, what types of qualifications are you looking at? And what subject matter should you be boning up on?
KEVIN SANCHEZ: That's a great point. If you take a look at today's investment world, you have any number of different options that are out there, from institutional money managers to mutual funds to picking individual stocks to ETFs. How do you assimilate all that? How do you put that together under one umbrella for a client who might need some or all of those built into their overall portfolio?
When it comes to understanding an entire portfolio, there are several designations out there that really focus on how do you manage an entire portfolio, the investment side. I am the Vice-Chair of IMCA, Investment Management Consultancy Association, and I have my CIMA, which really focuses on that overall level of portfolio analysis. I think that's very important that people understand the myriad of investments out there, the costs associated, something that people talk about but a lot of times don't really have a way to evaluate-- what's the risk of this manager that I have? So the investment side is very important.
I think the other side of getting a certification is, how well do you understand everything that's going to be important to me? So you've got the investment side done, but what do you know about, I want to pass this on to my children. I've got five businesses and I want to make sure that my kids can take over for me when I'm gone. Or you know what? I have a household that I'm now splitting up, based on what's going on in my life, and I have a new family bringing in. What are the philanthropic issues that are important to me?
All of those softer issues that aren't purely investment-related-- but are things that are really important to potential clients or existing customers – are extremely important today. The advisory world will always adapt to what happens with estate planning laws, for example. If you don't understand what's happening, you're missing out, potentially, for your clients. So how do you keep that knowledge in front of you?
A lot of it comes through the initial or the ongoing education you get with certifications. Again, for my clients, I wanted to be as strong of a consultant as I could. And working with my type of clients, I went back and got my Certified Private Wealth Advisor certification through IMCA. And it allowed me to look with a much deeper lens into the non-investment related side for my clients' wealth, and then be a really good quarterback, if you will, amongst my clients other advisors – their legal team, their tax team, their philanthropic team.
I think the ongoing certification not only makes you stronger the moment you take it if you are a mid-career advisor, but in the end, it really makes you that trusted advisor your client is – it's going to help you build your business anyway. Because if you're really good – you're indispensable to your family or the institution you work with – they're going to refer you to somebody else. So just being knowledgeable in and of itself, makes you a stronger person. And just by being that better advisor, amongst a quarter million of us that are out there, you'll probably see your business grow, as a fact of it.
BRUCE LOVE: The younger advisors, they've got their basic qualifications. They're looking to advance from that very sort of early stage in their career. How should they be thinking about qualifications?
KEVIN SANCHEZ: It's a good point. If you're a newer consultant – and I'll admit when I started, there wasn't the internet, there wasn't CNBC – you could cold call. If you're starting today, I think the certification process is one of the very first things that you should do so you can understand the investing and the wealth management side. Because most people who are coming in today, if they were 25 to 30 years old and looking at a 25- to 30-year career in this industry, what they want is the ability to differentiate themselves in a sea of noise about investments and costs and education. And to immediately elevate yourself with a certification – not only from having the letters, but the knowledge base that comes with it – I would recommend to any new person or newer person coming into the industry.
BRUCE LOVE: Kevin, thank you very much.
KEVIN SANCHEZ: Thank you very much.