Jack Bogle’s 7 Lessons for Financial Advisors
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Jack Bogle’s 7 Lessons for Financial Advisors

By Matt Oechsli | @mattoechsli

On January 16, 2019 the financial services industry lost an icon with the passing of Jack Bogle at the age of 89. He’s been a disrupter and as a result been called many names leaders by other mutual fund company leaders (i.e. Indexing is worse than Marxism), yet indexing’s founding father is a treasure chest of lessons for financial advisors.

I cannot do Mr. Bogle justice by highlighting only 7 Lessons, but I think financial advisors can relate to the following and can improve themselves by using them as a guiding light to work towards.

7 Lessons for Financial Advisors

Humility

There seems to be far too much hubris in today’s environment, but when you study outstanding people, from Abraham Lincoln to Warren Buffet, most of them have a sense of humility that belies their achievements. Jack Bogle is a case in point – a simple example is his net worth, estimated $80 million at time of death – $80 million versus competitor Fidelity, owned by Johnson family whose members according to latest Forbes 400 list have a combined net worth of $30 billion. It’s much healthier to keep score by what you do and who you are as a person than how much wealth you accumulate.

Client Centric

Every firm on the street sings the client centric tune, but few walk the talk. As a financial advisor, today’s affluent clients don’t expect you to give your services away. They will pay the going rate for your services.  However, they detest hidden fees. The secret is to have complete fee transparency, making certain clients are paying a fair price for your services, and that they’re receiving value beyond expectations.

Realistic Expectations

When dealing with investment performance, it’s critical that both you as the financial advisor, and your clients, have expectations that are based on reality. However once established, realistic expectations must be continually reinforced – especially in volatile markets. The Bogle philosophy is to buy quality and hold for the long term.

Moral Compass

Jack Bogle was often referred to as the conscience of the financial services industry because he always put the client first. As your client’s financial advisor who is overseeing the totality of their family’s financial affairs, think of yourself as their family physician of finances who protects them from themselves, the financial services industry, and scoundrels.

Keeping Everything Simple

Whether it’s Bogle’s buy and hold, creating a Cliff-Note version of statements, explaining the current market, or interpreting the talking heads on CNBC – the key is to always strive to take the complexity and mystic out of the financial world. Use stories and everyday language to make your point.

Boldness

Jack Bogle took on Wall Street, he was a true disrupter. Your boldness will most likely be in the form of keeping clients from making irrational financial decisions, getting affluent prospects to hire you as their financial advisor, developing strong referral alliance relationships, hiring support personnel before you can afford them, jettisoning smaller clients, and so on.

Self-actualization not Greed

Mr. Bogle was as anti-Gordon Gekko’s infamous rant “Greed is good!” as a world class businessman could be. It was as though his mantra was; serve the client and everything (compensation, word-of-mouth-influence) will take care of itself. Master this lesson and you’ll have achieved the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – loving what you do, being an ongoing student of your profession, advising and servicing your clients beyond the call of duty, and being completely fulfilled professionally.       

World class leaders provide valuable lessons for those who are interested. If you simply select a couple of the lessons outlined about to improve upon, you’ll be tapping into the power of role models. Being able to model both behaviors and attitudes of people you respect, whether it’s a parent, a historical figure, or a contemporary like Jack Bogle is a power growth accelerator.

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