I read this article this morning (11 November 2023) from Investmentmoats.
A month or two back, I did an interview with Ben to the Right - Singapore's #1 coach for Financial Advisors. To my surprise, Singapore's #1 Investment Blogger InvestmentMoats actually watched the whole thing and offered his support.
Purely from my perspective, Kyith and I have had a rocky history. I think we fundamentally disagree on many things when it comes to F.I, Money Management and the like. We've also had conversations that bordered on hostile when I was much younger, which left some scars on my ego.
Still, like a successful lurker I hang around BIGS and read both Tree of Prosperity's work and his often, not just out of curiosity to what F.I people do in their free time but why they view things so differently from me, almost akin to a different religion.
Kyith also had an interview that in my opinion, was much more successful than mine. Added credit goes towards the fact that for years and years he strayed away from public attention, and even now he takes it on with no serious desire to increase his income. (While I am the literal opposite) You can watch it and read his article on it here.
As part of his article, he wrote about something that I felt very strongly the need to give my perspective to, almost to scratch an old itch of mine.
How does one 'Gain the Qualifications' to offer Financial Advice?
When I started this blog, I was (and often still am) extremely critical because Financial Bloggers often dole out Financial Advice with no repercussions whatsoever.
You can see the outcome when word of backlash on Seedly's recommendations for TerraLuna, CoAssets and other such platforms reaches me all the way over here, someone who has been barred for years long after the original founder has run over to greener and more sustainable pastures.
According to Kyith, it's not due to his professional qualifications (although he has them and they were certainly overdue for someone at his level), but it boils down to two main factors he mentioned - 'Ferventness', and 'Eating Your Own Cooking'
Ferventness "If we are a focused on a subject, you will notice more weaknesses, strengths and considerations."
I think this ultimately boils down to thinking and almost somewhat obsessing about Financial Independence.
One of the reasons I lost my drive for Financial Planning was due to a lack of obsession in the market. It's very hard to serve prospects when few of them seem as invested in improving their financial situation as you, and it's not even your money. Toss in their incompetence and you get a burn-out situation.
As a result, it's so odd to me that I agree with Kyith on this point and yet we come to a different conclusion - that nobody cares more about your plan than yourself, while I think the exact opposite.
Even Conflict-of-Interest Financial Consultants could spend all day obsessing about your money, for better or worse.
The Government also certainly tends to care about your money more, to the point that CPF is regarded as one of the most successful schemes in the world - because it works, and we can refer to both the past and other countries to see that a very sound F.I framework prevents poverty from happening in this country.
Even after all these years, the case study below still applies as well.
...So in my experience, FAs, the Government, your parents, your spouse, your children and even quite a few charities prospecting you on the street may have much more financial experience, care and obsession with your finances than you.
I don't have anything to criticize just because Kyith and I disagree. Rather, now that I'm in my 30s and much more mellow than when I first started writing, I'm more curious than anything. I wonder how it's possible to see the world so similarly and yet draw such different conclusions on the observation.
But at least Kyith has had decades of experience not just being fervent but documenting the receipts on his ferventness. Even though we disagreed so badly to the point of hostility when I first started out my career, I experienced competitiveness and frustration by reading his old articles.
Each one was 30 minutes long and my knowledge as an FA was so limited at the time that I could not understand 90% of what he was saying.
It humbled me very quickly. How could someone without qualifications (Kyith was an engineer still at the time) be so much better at this than not just myself, but nearly every FA that I spoke to or tried to learn from?
Today, as someone who focuses more on coaching FAs and juggling multiple businesses - it's even MORE impressive in hindsight to see how much Kyith accomplished while not in the industry. Right now, it's a struggle for me to keep up and read, write and even think about finance while doing unrelated work compared to when I was an FA. Financial Advisors need to see that your good intentions, speaking ability and group training are not enough. You need to be obsessed with how to deliver results in your life and the lives of others.
Eating Your Own Cooking
"It is many times the salary, such that if it falls 50%, only the market will save the portfolio. This will be a test of my investment psychology.
In a way, my portfolio is a real-life peek into whether what I have shared will work or will crash and burn."
When my career started taking off, I also received some criticism that I was essentially profiting off selling expensive ILPs to people.
I ultimately levelled off the majority of this criticism by showing proof of the ILPs I had purchased years before my career ever took off, the results of them, as well as slowly opened up my personal portfolio for people to read and judge. This didn't necessarily appease critics, but it at least demonstrated that as an FA at the time, I'm not a hypocrite.
Amongst my FA friends, I've discussed at length that you need to invest in what you sell. This creates several advantages for you both personally and professionally:
1) Interest Alignment: Especially as fund selection, you can personally assure clients that you're very invested into ensuring that your selection is accurate.
2) Higher Quality of Work: Normally such personally vested interest results in a high quality of work over time.
3) Higher Conviction: With experience and practice, you are able to sell more from experiencing both the investment result AND the product itself.
I've experienced a tremendous amount of emotional rollercoasting in the last two years as I scaled my business back WHILE the market was declining, hitting me on both ends as I struggled to maintain my investment.
If it had been liquid, it would be over already, but I was forced to come up with creative solutions to solve this problem.
This is often countered by my FA friends who point out the following:
1) Different Stages of Life: It is not practical to invest in the same things as your client because your client is potentially in a different stage of life than you. I often find this to simply be an excuse not to invest themselves, largely since poor savings habits by FAs can often be easily substantiated. 2) Unrealistic: It is quite unlikely that you will have the same allocation as all of your clients for life. This is true, so forget the allocation. Simply showing your clients that you can commit with an illiquid structure DESPITE the ups and downs of self-employment gives you much needed credibility.
Kyith essentially addressed this by firstly being accountable (documenting his journey, successes and failures), adjusting based on his changing lifestyle and circumstances. I highly doubt he'll crash and burn, but I'm really looking forward to the point where we can see if he was able to achieve his beliefs and convictions.
FAs need to see that Financial Bloggers who can do this are not unafraid but are bold - because they have conviction from on hand experience and exposing themselves to public scrutiny.
You have to ask why you are not bold as well, and if there is a reason (like not having a portfolio, or not knowing how to present a portfolio) you are not.
I ended up finishing this article only many weeks later. I got married, had a truck ton to do for the three remaining businesses that I own (which Ill update for my Net Worth 2023 article).
I barely had time to write this, and it's not that much easier to keep reading.
Whether you're a reader or a licensed FA, a professional qualification or substantial experience doesn't qualify you to give advice. Claiming to be an unbiased platform doesn't really work either. Now that I'm married and in my 30s, I tend to hold my tongue more when it comes to dating advice or even leaving comments on things I find incredibly stupid because I could be look incredibly foolish years later if things don't work out like I say. I'm only comfortable giving advice on things I have confidence in that isn't on a baseless foundation. Perhaps we could all do a bit of that if we're not willing to learn enough to form a real basis of confidence.