This month’s blog is going to be slightly different than usual; rather than having Tim, Nathaniel or Dan discuss a financial topic, I’ll be writing about my perspective of the financial services industry. But before we get into that, a brief introduction is in order.
My name is Darin Krumenauer; I’m a student at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and will be graduating with a degree in finance later this spring. Prior to graduation, UNC requires business students to have completed an internship in their respective fields of study, and thus begins my connection with LBW.
I grew up in Sauk City, Wisconsin, and return each winter to visit family for the holidays. As luck would have it, one of those family members happened to be good friends with Dan at LBW. Introductions were made, and shortly thereafter the team at LBW agreed to bring me on as an intern during my holiday break.
LBW gave me my first real experience in the world of finance, and that’s exactly why they asked me to write this blog. They saw an opportunity to provide readers with an unfiltered discussion about financial services because, like most people, I didn’t know anything about it until recently.
Prior to working with LBW I knew little about what jobs were available to me in the industry, aside from banking and corporate finance. I was interested in financial services, but I didn’t know where to start. And when I asked, it seemed like I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone. Internship fairs and recruiting events were dominated by big-name finance companies offering ‘Financial Advisor’ positions. These turned out to be nothing more than glorified sales positions, paying commission for selling insurance and investment packages to family and friends – not my idea of a good time. My goal with a career in finance was to help people of any income level achieve a better standard of living, so that they wouldn’t have to worry about finances. I started to worry that a job like that didn’t exist.
When LBW agreed to the internship I realized I would finally be exposed to the inner workings of financial services, and whether I loved or hated it, I would at least know where to move forward. As I began working with the team, I immediately realized that they were the missing piece of the puzzle. The level of care and attention to detail that LBW was giving to clients was exactly what I wanted for a future career. There was one thing that I couldn’t figure out: why hadn’t I heard about this type of firm before? Thinking on this, I’ve concluded that there is a huge issue with financial services.
Some big firms in the industry are thriving on obscurity, using unnecessarily complex verbiage and pushy sales tactics to rampup commission sales. I know this because I’ve experienced it personally. If a good student with a thorough comprehension of finance has a difficult time understanding what he’s really investing in, why would someone with no background in the subject be expected to? It’s simple – they aren’t meant to. If these clients fully understood what they were being sold and could compare it to an independent firm like LBW, I’d wager that an overwhelming majority would go with the independent firm. I’m not saying that every big firm is bad, and every independent firm is good (I’ve researched dozens that aren’t). My true intent is to get people to start questioning the industry so that they can make more informed decisions about where they are putting their money.
As people begin to understand what they’re investing in, they will start to recognize firms that truly act in their best interest as well as firms that don’t. This brings the conversation back to LBW. During the internship I was exposed to every function of their business, including sitting in on client meetings (and for those of you whom I had the pleasure to meet, I sincerely thank you for allowing me to join in those conversations). The two- to three- hour introductory meeting that prospective clients receive blew me away, not because of its length or the fact that it’s free of charge, but because the primary goal is to educate those individuals so that they understand exactly what the firm is providing. It’s no wonder that LBW has seen tremendous growth since their inception; people recognize just how rare it is to find a firm as genuine as they are.
With graduation drawing closer by the day, I’ve researched dozens of firms to try and find a suitable place to start my career. The unfortunate truth is that I have yet to find one that comes close to what I experienced with LBW. Because of this, I am even more confident that a change must take place regarding financial services. People work hard for their money and deserve to understand where they can maximize its value. My new goal: to be part of a fundamental shift in the industry, making it both stronger and healthier for everyone.
For those of you who made it this far, thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments specifically for me, please contact LBW and they’ll pass my information along to you!
Please note: this blog is an expression of my thoughts and opinions alone, and does not necessarily represent LBW Wealth Management in any way.