I live in a very small town about two hours outside of Manhattan and like many of them around the country, my local volunteer fire department sponsors Pancake breakfasts to raise money. I think I may have been to one of these before in my life, but my recent experience will have me going to them on a regular basis.
Being a near-neophyte Pancake breakfast-goer, a friend gave the overview of how these things work. First, many, many people from town show up to support the cause, so expect a big crowd. Second, you can donate as little or as much as you want. Third, the volunteer fire men and women not only cook the pancakes, sausage and coffee, but they serve all guests family style, refills and all. Finally, as far the Pancakes themselves go, there were delicious! This was the first of a couple of surprises in store for me.
As we were eating, we got the opportunity to meet several people at our table. The tables turn over quite a bit, so several groups came and went. What was surprising to me was that after people asked me what I did for a living, (I shared I just wrote a book on how to find a financial advisor), was the immediate and near-unanimous positive response from my table-mates on their need for a book like mine. “Oh I need an advisor, my situation just changed….” “I have been looking for one for a long time…” I was quite taken aback in a good way with how immediate and open people were to share that not only do they need an advisor, but advisors in general are needed. The stories and anecdotes of why each person needed an advisor were sincere, important and fascinating. Going to more of these will help me better understand investors in a different environment, and meeting new neighbors is always wonderful of course.
I would not have guessed that a community breakfast event would be a suitable venue for discussing ones need for financial advice, but I was thrilled to hear such a need expressed. My little town has a mix of residents who were born and raised in the area and a mix of those that have weekend homes here. Both groups were well represented at the breakfast. Interestingly, I heard questions and comments coming from both groups regarding the need for an advisor, which I found heartening.
A big take away for me was how immediate the reaction was on the topic of getting an advisor. Also fascinating was the interest in reading a book on how to find one. I make this statement not to push my book, rather to make the point that there is a clear desire on the part of investors for objective education on how to get a financial advisor and seeing that validation at such an incongruous place was exciting.
If you are a financial advisor, I would highly recommend supporting your local fire department Pancake breakfast. But I also think giving a regular, free, non-solicitous lecture about advisors in general at a local library would be a wonderful thing to do and share with the community, like these breakfasts, that you do this regular talk. This underlying lesson for me is that investors crave objective education. True, you might gain a new client. But you will educate your neighbors and likely make new friends as well.