Time and Transparency

Today, we have a special Daily Insights courtesy of Michael Lissner:

John Wanamaker, a man few of us have heard of, has impacted our lives and saved us time.  Wanamaker became a prominent Philadelphia retailer with a reputation for honesty and transparency.  He made his mark as a merchandising genius, as well as inventor.

One great contribution he made was to save people time.  In particular, he wanted to save his customers and his salesmen the hours they would spend haggling over the price of something.  He saved them time.

Wanamaker is credited with inventing the price tag.  Each item in his store had a price and it was plainly marked on every product.  Today we take that for granted, at least in most industries.

Obviously, the price tag has become pretty standard, at least in most industries.  Unfortunately, many parts of the financial services industry have somehow avoided ever showing a price.

From day one, Acropolis has followed the Wanamaker model.  We believe that transparency helps in creating an atmosphere of trust, which is the cornerstone of a strong relationship.  Our fees are clearly communicated to prospects before they hire us, and provided every quarter when we send out their statements.

Simple.  Easy.  Transparent.

I met with a prospect and his wife on Wednesday who recently sold their business.  They had already met with five other advisors and he and his wife were shocked that we were the only advisor they had met with that was completely transparent regarding fees.

Will they become clients?  Perhaps.  Trust is a critical part of our client relationship, but not the only part.  (At a minimum, I am confident that we helped them with a few lessons learned from other clients that have sold a business.)

It seems like I talk at least monthly with someone who believes that they will get a financial product for “free”.  For example, annuity salesmen are great at saying that there are “no fees”.  For someone to stay in business, they have to have income.

I would like to revise the old saying “you get what you pay for” to “you get what you perceive you pay.”  If you think it is free, and there are high hidden fees, the value you are receiving is pretty minimal.

Next week I will do a follow-up tribute to Wanamaker and his desire for transparency and address performance, another “hidden” part of financial services.

One last point of interest on John Wanamaker; one of his “inventions”, which is still around today, was to create the money-back guarantee, which has also become pretty universal.

Thanks John, you set the standard for honesty and transparency.