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June 22, 2021

What isn't your financial planner telling you?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

If you subscribe to the philosophy of Gordon Gekko, greed is good.

Heck, it made the guy a ton of cash in Wall Street  and, were it not for Charlie Sheen ratting him out, fuelled the desire that made him one of the world’s most powerful businessman. Michael Douglas even landed an Oscar for convincing us financial gluttony might've been given a bad name, after all.

But Wall Street  was, of course, a movie. In real life, you don’t want any dishonesty when it comes to handling your money.

Which is why I found this article from entitled “10 Things Financial Planners Won’t Tell You” so fascinating. As it turns out – surprise! surprise! – many of the people out there tripping over themselves to manage your money may not be totally upfront about things.

You can check out the full list here, but here’s a few tidbits from the article I found interesting:

- In the early 1990s, only about 25,000 people called themselves “financial planners.” By 2006, that number had shot to 650,000 and – while there are legitimate causes for the boost, sure – part of the reason the total has risen so fast is that nearly anyone can present themselves under the blanket description of financial planner. Because often times there is no required training involved with becoming a financial planner, you run the risk of encountering “bank-employed pitchmen” who may have interests not entirely honest with your money. Smartmoney’s advice? Try hiring an advisor with a Certified Financial Planner license (a field of about 56,000) to manage your cash. An advisor with his/her CFP license means they’ve got at least three years experience on the job and have passed a comprehensive 10-hour exam on the merits and ethics of handling your money.

- More to that notion, ghost-financial planners have somehow managed to creep their way into the industry. According to Smartmoney, many financial planners – especially among big firms – meet with you one-on-one, shake your hand and conceive a plan you’re satisfied with … only to outsource finishing the job to a secondary firm or freelance planner. The advisor you’ve met with apparently doesn’t actually do much of the leg work, enabling them to spend more time wooing prospective clients. “It’s the current corruption in financial planning,” John E. Sestina, cofounder of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, says of the growing trend. While it may not sound like much, this is the exact kind of lack-of-personal-care corner-cutting that pisses regular people off when it comes to money.

Regardless, there are some eye-opening points made in the Smartmoney list and, if you’re looking for more on the issue, check out these three steps on how to pick the right financial advisor for you.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...