Get a reference

It never ceases to amaze me that people will go to great lengths to check out all the options on a new TV or car. They will insist on checking out a holiday destination before even booking a week’s break, but when it comes to people or things that have a major impact on their lives, their company or reputation they don’t even take up one reference.

A certain individual known to me and my friends was recently fired by a well known listed retailer, actually the person in question was allegedly, according to senior management, Frog Marched out of the head office for activities that were, shall we be generous and say, irregular.

What came as no surprise therefore was when we heard that this man, who thinks loyalty is a store card and integrity a board game he can cheat at and win, was busy being interviewed by another listed company as their potential FD!

Incomprehensible? No not in SA today, companies rarely check, or as we say take up references, well not until it is too late and the irregularities have cost them their reputation, their collegiate spirit and public image and also cost them 1000 times more than they ware saving by employing that employee with the just too gooda CV on the cheap!

This attitude applies to individuals as well, especially when choosing their financial advisor or coach. Many may use these titles but only a few can deliver what you really need. Always follow this simple code of six:

  • Ask to speak with three clients with similar needs as your own, all of whom have utilized the prospective advisor for over a year.
  • Check their FSP number (Financial Services Provider Number) on the FSB (Financial Services Board) website www.fsb.co.za
  • Ask the advisor for a free review of your position and some ideas on where you are weak, nothing too specific he or she doe not have to give it all away, but have you ever paid for a test drive, in a car?
  • Check all the companies being promoted, do they also have their own FSP numbers and are thus also fully regulated.
  • Find out how often you will be communicated with, will it be monthly, quarterly, annually or only when they want to sell you more of their time or product?
  • Finally use your own intuition, will you enjoy dealing with this person and do they make you feel comfortable. This is very important, an arrogant or self righteous financial coach may talk sense but their arrogance will cause you to avoid them or accept blindly what they are saying to shorten the time you need to spend with them.Â

So take up references, always question and act like your future depends on it, be very careful, this is even more serious than buying a tandem parachute jump. As Bill Shankly once said about football, but it applies here as well, “It’s not about life or death, it’s more important than that!”

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