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Trusted Advisors

Is It Worth It to Hire an Advisor?—Why Only a Trusted Advisor Will Do

A Trusted Advisor—Whether Financial or Legal—Is Worth Every Penny

The best advisor you can hire will be a clever and creative problem solver who interacts with total integrity, honesty and ethical conduct. The worst? Someone’s goal of growing richer and richer at your expense—and that’s one of the better scenarios. Frankly, not all advisors, regardless of their reputations or press releases, are excellent. And some should simply not be trusted.

Lawyers, in particular, run the gamut. Here’s a thought: Unlike Caribbean medical schools that have many U.S. students, U.S. wanna-be lawyers don’t need to find Caribbean-equivalent law schools. While many college graduates do not get into a U.S. medical school, few, if any graduates of a four-year college, cannot get into a law school.

The moral of the story is that a trusted advisor should be smart (which cannot be guaranteed by graduating from law school), honest enough to be worthy of your trust, and both insightful and perceptive enough about human behavior to merge book smarts with life experience.

Lawyers (to make a generalization) are harder working, more honest, and at least as intelligent, clever, forthright and dedicated as those in other professions. Do you know how to spot the good ones and avoid the not-so-good ones? To do so, you need to be an educated consumer of professional services to get the most out of your lawyer or financial advisor.

Three Reasons to Hire a Trusted Advisor

Unless you are accused of a serious crime, you can probably live your life without needing to hire a lawyer. You can probably also avoid hiring an accountant all the days of your life. As with the work of plumbers, electricians and roofers, you can DIY those things if you are so inclined. No one is stopping you.

Similarly, if you think doctors are too expensive, or scare you, you are perfectly free to ignore your high temperature or the strange lump under your skin. Many people do just that. It’s true—some of these conditions will go away without anyone’s help. Not all, but some.

If you are a business owner or C-level executive, or if you have complex financial issues, then it becomes less easy—and less smart—to go it alone. Ultimately, there are three basic reasons why it’s worth it to hire a trusted advisor:

  • They have information or skills that you don’t.
  • Their help, advice, creativity or skill is worth the price that you will have to pay.
  • They can do something that you’d prefer not to do yourself or cannot do as efficiently.

[Editor’s Note: Are you a lawyer or financial advisor? Are you looking to shape your brand and reputation as a professional service provider? Check out this short clip from our webinar Your Niche and Your Brand to get advice from an expert panel.]

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

Keep in mind that when dealing with lawyers, accountants and other trusted advisors,  that they must play the hand they are dealt. The legal system is complicated, time-consuming and expensive. And sometimes you are too. Accountants often have to deal with tax rules that are unnecessarily complex. Indeed, this is the very reason why people go to school for a long time to enter these professions and are paid well in return! A trusted advisor won’t come cheap. “You get what you pay for” couldn’t ring more true.

Sy Syms Said it Best: “An educated consumer is our best customer”

Yes, the best advisor you can hire will take appropriate shortcuts when practicable and not overly risky. But practicable is not the same as possible. Unless you are educated enough about the matter at hand, second-guessing your advisor can be dangerous. Getting good service and thoughtful advice from your trusted advisor requires you to be realistic about whether you can reach your goals without undue risk.

The bottom line?

  • Be clear in what you say and how you say it.
  • Avoid giving mixed messages.
  • Take responsibility for your decisions without using advisors as whipping posts.
  • Know when to stay silent.

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: The Start-Up / Small Business Advisor and The Business of Law & Accounting – Making Money as a Professional Service Provider. This is an updated version of an article originally published on June 25, 2018.]

©All Rights Reserved. April, 2021. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM

About Henry Krasnow

Henry Krasnow is a Partner at Sugar, Felsenthal, Grais & Helsinger LLP. He provides cost effective strategies to solve the legal/business problems of privately held businesses, family businesses and individuals engaged in business. He has worked in this area for over 45 years, and his work and writing has been regularly recognized by national and…

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