DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A REAL DESIGNATION, AWARD, OR QUALIFICATION. “SHINY SILVERSTAR ANALYTICS” IS NOT A REAL COMPANY. NEITHER RED ROCK WEALTH MANAGEMENT, LLC, NOR IT’S PRINCIPAL OWNER GREG PHELPS MAINTAIN OR CLAIM TO MAINTAIN ANY SUCH AWARD OR DESIGNATION. THIS BLOG POST IS PURELY FICTITIOUS (and hopefully humorous) AND THIS INFORMATION IS MEANT FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE RELIED UPON IN THE DECISION TO HIRE RED ROCK WEALTH MANAGEMENT, LLC OR ANY FINANCIAL ADVISOR PROFESSIONAL. IN FACT THE ONLY THING REAL ABOUT THIS BLOG POST IS THE FACT THAT THIS INTENTIONALLY DECEPTIVE AND MISLEADING BUSINESS PRACTICE DOES IN FACT EXIST IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY.

The Wall Street Machine and the financial services industry (in it’s quest for infinite wealth) has mastered marketing. They’ve succeeded beyond all imagination at completely confusing the investing public. One way in which they’ve done so is to put labels, credentials, and titles on financial advisors. Such labels, logos, or credentials may mean little to you – if anything at all! But the fancy marketing materials and shiny star logos promoted in major financial publications (through paid advertising) is incredibly confusing and highly deceptive.

So, to illustrate my point in an effort to promote consumer awareness I thought I would create my own fictitious credential. I’m going to call it the Shiny SilverStar Analytics “Super Special Advisor” Award! Believe it or not, there is at least one company out there using the criteria for this award noted in conjunction with paid advertising of a shiny star logo.

For grins, let’s lay out the criteria for this amazingly prestigious (and totally fictitious) award.

  1. Shiny SilverStar Analytics will have a team identify potential award winners, mainly by searching for any company which might possibly fit the criteria through the internet, phonebook, and other sources. Once identified, Shiny SilverStar Analytics will invite said financial advisor firms to participate in an interview to learn more about their firm.
  2. Shiny SilverStar Analytics will then interview potential award winners in the primary areas of Professionalism, Ethics, Being a “Great” Firm, and Track Record. Granted, the criteria are vague, I understand this – yet it’s a starting point right? After all, if a firm principal says they’re a professional, ethical, great firm with an excellent track record – what reason would they possibly have to mislead our crack research team at Shiny SilverStar Analytics?
  3. Shiny SilverStar Analytics will then check to make sure prospective award winning financial advisor firm is actually licensed to do business in the capacity they represent themselves. So for example, if prospective firm claims to be licensed to do business in the sale or management of securities or insurance products, Shiny SilverStar Analytics will spend a couple minutes pulling up the licensing of prospective award winning company through the SEC/FINRA and check to see if they have an active business license. To verify just about any credential, disclosure, registration, insurance, or licensing status on just about any financial advisor or firm just visit the Red Rock Wealth Management FAQ page here, after all – shouldn’t you really check for yourself anyway? Better yet, just INSIST on a Paladin Registry FADD Certified Advisorbut I digress!
  4. Shiny SilverStar Analytics will then determine if prospective firm exceeds a set of benchmarks which Shiny SilverStar Analytics sets. I know, vague again, yet at least there’s a benchmark (no matter how low the bar is set) right? Since there’s absolutely NO possible way to benchmark prospective award winning firm’s investment performance record (outside of the very few largest firms which pay to have their track records monitored and analyzed), and of course there’s really no way to benchmark prospective firm’s client satisfaction (client testimonials are illegal to use in marketing material unless performed by an outside analytics company, audited, and EVERY client must be contacted to use this information publicly per the SEC, meaning NO cherry picking!), and there’s really no possible way to benchmark a prospective firms financial planning capabilities – well… I guess we’ll just adjust the benchmark as we go (based on who’s willing to pay us to use our Shiny SilverStar Analytics “Super Special Advisor” Award)!
  5. Shiny SilverStar Analytics will then decide whether or not to award prospective firm with their “Super Special Advisor” credential.

Of course the decision to award the Shiny SilverStar Analytics “Super Special Advisor” would NEVER be based on the financial advisor PAYING for this award (there would be a conflict of interest). But, in order to do all this of course, Shiny SilverStar Analytics will need some form of revenue to maintain a profitable business. But we will NEVER charge prospective award winning firms a fee for certification – that would put far too much legal risk on Shiny SilverStar Analytics, and we certainly wouldn’t want the perception that a prospective firm could just “buy” their award!

Rather, we’ll do advertising of our prestigeous “Super Special Advisor” award winners IN MAJOR FINANCIAL PUBLICATIONS (in fact if you’re reading this, my guess is you’ve seen the real-life equivalent of this award in one of these major financial publications). We’ll also allow them to use our “Super Special” logo pictured above on their website and marketing material depending on how much they pay us. Of course we’ll have to pass along our advertising costs plus our business expenses, plus our “researchers” expenses, and make a profit. So we’ll have to charge upwards of $4,500 for use of our “Super Special Advisor” award and the associated advertising that goes along with it. After all – even if a firm qualifies for the “Super Special Advisor” award – they should help bolster Shiny SilverStar Analytics balance sheet so we can continue to find other “Super Special Advisor’s” right?

So what did we really learn from this exercise in futility? Don’t believe the “prestige” factor of every credential, logo, or award your financial advisor promotes! The fact is there are specialty credentials offered by educational institutions which should be researched by each investing consumer – some which mean your advisor has chosen to be among the very best in the financial services industry, and others which mean little if anything more than a “Shiny SilverStar”.

Greg Phelps, CFP, CLU, AAMS