Redefining Stereotypes: What I Thought I Knew About Financial Advisors

What does a “Financial Advisor” look like to you?

For the majority of my life, this was a term that painted a picture of a stiff, suit-shaped figure sitting behind a heavy oak desk in an office where only the affluent were permitted to enter. I am almost certain this picture in my mind was not an original piece, but rather one that had been curated from the storylines of various movies and television shows that played in the living room of my childhood home. I am also almost certain I am not the only person who once imagined this caricature-like version of a Financial Advisor.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018, when I joined HFG Trust as a member of the Service Team. Vindication washed over me as my suspicions were confirmed: many Financial Advisors do, in fact, wear suits. That, however, is where the truth in my assumptions came to a halt. The well-dressed, faceless figures had begun to take on real, human forms. They discussed their children’s latest cross-country meets over homemade lunches in the kitchen, taught Junior Achievement courses at local schools, and lamented over the lack of caffeine pulsing through their veins on Monday morning. When clients arrived for meetings, they greeted them in the lobby by name and asked about their kids, grandchildren, and latest family vacations. Clients, who came in many forms, displayed genuine smiles as they provided updates on their personal and professional lives, sharing this news as though they were catching up with an old friend.

The illusion had been shattered.

Then came spring of 2019. I had moved from the Service Department to join the Marketing team and it seemed my old Jeep was starting to gear up for retirement as a newer, safer car began to edge its way into the picture. Having never purchased a car of my own before, my paralyzing fear of taking on a new monthly payment could not be masked as I spoke on the phone with one of our advisors. Unable to breeze past my obvious anxiety, the advisor paused and asked, “Do you mind if we talk through this for a minute?”

The next fifteen minutes were spent discussing my various options and the consequences that would follow each one. I did not have the ability to accurately predict the exact moment my Jeep would decide to start for the last time, and if I were to hang on to it I may have found myself suddenly stranded without transportation. On the other hand, if I traded it in for a less expensive but similarly aged car, it was likely that I would need to repeat the entire car buying process again in just a few short years. Finally, if I went with the newer, but slightly more expensive car I had my eye on, he said, I would still manage to stay on track to achieve my debt-free goal while also enjoying the peace of mind that would come along with owning a reliable vehicle.

Of course, these facts had all passed through my mind prior to this conversation; but, disjointed and clouded by anxiety, it felt as though they only added fuel to my indecisiveness. Like a lighthouse guiding me safely to shore, a fifteen minute conversation with someone I had come to trust provided the clarity and confidence I needed to make what felt like a big financial decision. 

Now, I feel it is important to note that this Financial Advisor was not MY Financial Advisor. We had no client agreement in place, made no arrangements for a formal meeting, and, to my knowledge, he did not receive any monetary reward for his time spent speaking with me. He simply recognized my plight and knew he possessed the tools needed to help me uncover the decision that was right for me. Far from a stiff, suit-wearing businessman, he was a teacher, a counselor, and a source of emotional support. For fifteen minutes that day, I caught a quick glimpse of the wealth of knowledge and unique interpersonal skills many of his clients have wisely been tapping into for years.

It has now been ten months since I joined the HFG Trust family and I am happy to report that the intimidating, cartoonish figure, who was once the face of all Financial Advisors in my mind, is not even a dot in the rear-view mirror of my (almost) brand new car. It has been a welcomed paradigm shift as I’ve slowly learned more about our advisors as individuals, each day witnessing the lasting impact they have on their clients, and a humbling reminder to never double down on even my longest held assumptions.

Adriana Doyle, Marketing Communications Specialist