Monday, 29 September 2008

Everyone needs a great financial advisor.

My natural instinct in life is to hate financial advisors. I have met a few in my short (yes short) life. I have normally had to resort to taking advice from these "sorts" when my financial life has turned to disaster. Most of the time when I have had to deal with any kind of financial institution this has normally ended with me either crying or feeling slightly suicidal... at times this has been replaced by pure hatred for the person who sits behind the desk gently tutting at my financial incompetence as they delve through the depths of my various credit cards statements questioning how I spent so much in such a short amount of time. Red faced I try to justify myself by stating that 1.my bank account had been emptied and I was forced to use my credit cards 2. I have a problem. I literally can't stop spending. It was either visit a financial advisor or go to a mental institution (I probably should have picked the latter) 3. I had no idea what had happened having been struck down by amnesia in the preceeding months. I could feel the judgement of me and my spending habits literally oozing out of the pores of this man. He looked disappointed in me without even knowing me and seemed bored with my excuses. Sure he'd heard them all before but there is a code of politeness. I do it with client's all the time. I listen to them knowing that they are justifying their actions and making themselves feel slightly better but the reality is they are lying and it's appropriate for me to seem to believe them at the very least in the first meeting!

So my experience of financial advisors is that they are generally judgemental, slightly smug people who look down their noses and sigh at the level of debt you have got yourself into as they wipe imaginery dust off their Rolex watch. Generally speaking they are making money out of your misfortune. This I don't mind as such as any advisory role does just that. If all was going well they would need you alot more. They would probably downplay your wealth and talk about wealthier client's they see and how to achieve this level of wealth. But the run of the mill people ... people like me... commonly known as "debt ridden scummers" are the ones that they can really vent their anger on without worrying about complaints. After all we need them much more than they need us!

Last Christmas as I stared at my credit card statements and spent alot of time trying to juggle my money in order to pay the minimum payments I knew it was only a matter of time before I would find myself again knocking on the door of the local financial humiliator to try to resolve my financial difficulties. I'm honest when I need help but there is something so very mortifying about going to someone and confessing your financial sins. I am the typical person who earns a decent wage but has a massive ball and chain that I drag around with me. The ball and chain is years of living on a low wage, student loans and credit card therapy. I needed help.

My friend suggested that I go and see someone at a place called Acorn Finance. I was slightly concerned that Acorn suggested they expected people to have little debts. You know the size of an acorn. I was a financial loser. The worst kind. As I had ignored it for far too long. I went to see Andrew (although I'll call him Andreas as the mediterrean name makes the process seem sunnier and alot less dark and painful). Within minutes I was in tears. I told him I was in a mess. Andreas was different from other financial advisors I had seen. He certainly didn't appear to be judging me and I felt as if he had heard it all before. Inside I have no doubt he was thinking "oh my god you financial incompetent!" but he hid it well and was friendly yet I totally believed what he had to say. Before Christmas I was sorted and relieved to think that I would be able to deal with my debts and not get myself into such a situation again.

So 7 months later when I was forced to get in touch with Andreas again I couldn't really see what I could say other than "I've really screwed up!" Ok so by the time I saw him he was a little more judgemental but this time I didn't cry. What was the point? He knew I was a loser so why become a pathetic loser? I wasn't crying when I was building up the credit cards again. And this time I had to accept real responsibility. It was hard. I took it on the chin... Ok I didn't. But I knew that I was just an idiot when it came to money and I would have to deal with my idiotic behaviour. IF there is ever a next time I know he will use 2 words and the first one will begin with P and the second word will be off... This alone makes me fear him. And I'll be honest this is not the sort of man you fear! He's funny and I suspect a bit of a party boy but the difficulty with this sort of person is you know that if you let him down again you would feel really bad! One evening after work I went to see him to discuss the loan arrangements for my new consolidation I arrived at the office after work to a barrage of bad language being shouted through the office. I was sitting in the waiting room as I listened to various c, f and sh words being shouted to a colleague and knew that this was the sort of unprofessional firm I needed to be involved with! These people were perfect for my financial needs! They were approachable and human. They hated their clients and therefore me and it made me love their ethos all the more! A rather embarrassed Andreas came round the corner and greeted me saying that he was unaware I was sitting there. But the reality was it sealed my loyalty to such a ridiculously helpful and hugely unprofessional approach. Now don't get me wrong I'm sure they can be very professional for others. I mean only today Andreas cancelled my appointment to go and hob nob on a golf course with some of his more important clients. His complete honesty immmediately made me feel like I'm in on a secret. I know the flaws, their professionality is wasted on me and I think they know that.

Now to bring a new element of interbreeding to Jersey I then happened to tell Andreas that I was looking for a flat. He told me that his business partner David had a flat to rent. He called him in and I met David who looked like he had just woken up (it was 5pm) and told me his wife deals with it all. After Andreas telling me it was a whole £200 cheaper than it actually was (the lack of accuracy of figures may worry some when it comes to a financial advisor but it appealed to me... why should we get bogged down with accuracy anyway!!).I visited the flat and I now live in it. It is all a bit weird! I wonder if they really wanted me close? Did I have to commit my soul to Acorn now that I've messed up for the second time? Every purchase I make I now think about knowing that I will have to walk it into my flat past the house that David lives in. They've lent me money I have to be seen to be being sensible. It is the old saying of keep your friends close, your enemies even closer... I wonder if the same goes for debtors? It would seem also that Andreas has been to visit David at home and has seen my crap car and then because he knows that he has no real professional image with me he had the cheek to tell me it was crap! He back tracked soon after I told him I was willing to borrow more money to buy a nice car and all we had to do was re-hash the figures. Suddenly my little passion wagon was not so bad! Funny that!

And so I find myself for the first time feeling responsible for ensuring I don't let these people down. I owe it to their honesty and their lack of professional image. I will never find another firm like it I am sure. And ok so they have bothered to move me next door to them to keep an eye on me... which is a little over the top! But I guess it's good for me too... as the guilt of buying is more overwhelming than usual. I may start carrying purchases into my flat in the dark under sheets or black bags when everyone is asleep... it may be the only way to keep the shopping addiction going! The truth is that this is the kind of advice I need... no judgement but the fear of disappointing Andreas and David. However the commitment of a five year loan and living in this flat for possibly five years is not something I can envisage. I may have to escape the cell and move elsewhere at some point... I just pray I don't fall off the wagon. We all need a great financial advisor... but if you can't find one ... get one that at least has a lack of pompousness and the ability to make you feel comfortable. The best kind is one that really just acts like a friend who seems to be mucking around a bit. There is really no need to be all serious about it... we all know it's pathetic that I'm in this situation so let's just accept it... slightly scared I'm now thinking though I may have lost my freedom to these people...They are watching me... Acorn don't stifle me I want to be an Oak tree. Note to self I must read the small print and just make sure I don't have to hand over my soul as collateral for my loan.... oh so what if I do it'll be worth it I guess!

1 comment:

Ken said...

My dear you never disapoint!!!
I have been waiting to long for this post, LMAO!!! funny.

But really you should watch you spending. You need to cut back on that cheese you've been buying...lol

E-mail me so we can catch up, Its hard to guess when you are on line. I'm almost always on. so try me!