Saturday, April 18, 2009

Barron's Top 100 Financial Advisers - Just What the World Needs

This morning, I clicked over to Barron’s and was greeted with its rankings of “The Best Advisers,” which I’m sure I’ll find relevant when I no longer live on Ramen noodles and dented cans of tuna.

I can’t think of an article more useless to the average investor, because Joe Six Pack (drink!) is not in the position of being able to invest with any of these advisers. In fact, he’s probably suicidal from not being able to afford the new GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip for his kid, and if his wife aint gonna make love to him, does getting into John Paulson’s new hedge fund really matter?

But let’s put that aside for now and dig in.

Have you ever met anyone that tells everyone who’ll listen that their cardiologist/dermatologist/mechanic/drug dealer is the best in New York? This is the Wall Street equivalent. So you can thank annoying people like that for giving lists like Barron’s Top 100 Financial Advisers, Barron’s Top 1000 Financial Advisers, Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisers, Barron’s Top 100 Independent Financial Advisers, and Barron’s Top 100 Eskimo Financial Advisers a reason to exist.

And why can’t I just call them advisors, with an O, like I want to?

Unfortunately, Barron’s is robbing some otherwise-qualified advisers advisors of priceless marketing by excluding the following 24 folks who switched firms:

Name

Old Firm

New Firm

Christopher Aitken Smith Barney Merrill Lynch
Nick Bapis Morgan Stanley Hightower Securities
Richard Blosser Morgan Stanley UBS
Roger Carter Morgan Stanley Merrill Lynch
Robert Coleman Morgan Stanley Merrill Lynch
Rick Davidson Credit Suisse Morgan Stanley
George Dunn Smith Barney Convergent Wealth
Robert Dunn Morgan Stanley UBS
David Hou Merrill Lynch Luminous Capital
Michael Johnston Citi Family Office Merrill Lynch
Sanford Katz UBS Credit Suisse
Gregory Kern Bank of America Deutsche Bank
Kevin Knobloch JP Morgan Wachovia
Steve Levine Credit Suisse UBS
Kenneth Moffet Morgan Stanley Hourglass Capital
Andrew Perry Deutsche Bank UBS
Peter Rukeyser Morgan Stanley UBS
Mark Sear Merrill Lynch Luminous Capital
Kurt Sylvia Wachovia UBS
Dean Trindle Merrill Lynch Morgan Stanley
Lori Van Dusen Citi Institutional Convergent Wealth
Alexander Williams Morgan Stanley UBS
Eric Yamin Morgan Stanley UBS
Richard Zinman Smith Barney Credit Suisse

According to the article “Barron's keeps such advisers off the list for a year, to see how their accounts shape up at the new firm.”

That statement strikes me as a bit odd, because Barron’s also says “Investment returns aren't an explicit criterion, because advisers aren't required to file audited statements. But honest advisers operating on this scale tend to have strong returns -- that's how they get and keep so many clients.”

So if returns for these advisors aren’t monitored, why even worry about how their accounts “shape up at the new firm?” These are relatively high-powered operators, often managing billions of dollars, so if they retained their clients during their switches to new firms, then why couldn’t they stay on the list?

Isn’t getting and keeping clients what counts?

I’ll say this: Leaving troubled firms like Citigroup (C) is a sign that folks like Lori Van Dusen and Michael Johnston probably care quite a bit about their clients, who’ve learned over the past year that financial services is one area in life where size doesn’t matter.

I could also rant about the conflicts of interest involved in letting firms nominate their own advisors, but I’m too tired, I’m too old, I’m too f*cking blind.

Besides, what do you care? You don’t have enough money to work with any of these advisors anyway.

3 comments:

phil the prophet said...

you are being conned. the best of the lot wouldn't participate in such a folly.

Michael Comeau said...

Good point - besides, the list is obviously biased towards megafirms who nominate their own people. Not much of a conflict of interest there!

h4ns said...

Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information.
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