At dinner Friday night at a crowded Bella Piatti restaurant in Birmingham, the most striking part of the evening was the honesty of our server.

When ordering appetizers, our server was very clear which items he recommended and a few to avoid. He provided advice and was helpful. When he returned with the appetizers, they were all wonderful and we were pleased with his guidance.

After a while, it was time to order our entrees. Again, when asked about certain dishes, his verbal and facial responses made it clear what his recommendations were. We had quickly developed trust in him. His clear recommendations were so much more helpful than the usual “everything is good” reply. He guided us in the right direction, as all 5 people at the table enjoyed their main courses.

As the evening continued to desserts, he again advised us which items were very good and which are not his preferences. Being a huge fan of cannoli’s, I disregarded his advice against getting the “deconstructed cannoli.” When it arrived, we enjoyed it (shared amongst the group), but he was right. It was good, but not great.

During the evening and on the way home, we discussed how much we appreciated his recommendations and advice. One person asked why he was so forthright, much more so than at most restaurant experiences. My thought was that the more we enjoyed our meal, the more likely we are to return. Every business desires repeat business and he was doing his part to ensure this.

As Billy Joel’s song “Honesty” says…

     “Honesty is such a lonely word
      Everyone is so untrue
      Honesty is hardly ever heard
      And mostly what I need from you”

As a financial advisor, we are morally and legally obligated to act in our clients’ best interest. This is not the standard for all investment advisors and brokers. We are very transparent about how we are paid. We are fee-only financial advisors. We do not get paid commissions from any of the investments that we recommend. Unlike brokers at major financial institutions, where fees may be hidden or not fully disclosed, we are open and honest about our fee schedule.

The server of our delicious meal gave us the best opportunity to have a great experience at the restaurant. Our interests as a wealth management firm are fully aligned with our clients so they have the best opportunity to have a positive long term investment experience.

At our firm, our fees are based on what we manage for a client, not on what fund or product we sell (as we do not sell anything). If your investments increase, we both do better. If your investments decline, we both feel the pain. Doesn’t that make sense?

Isn’t honesty and clarity the best way to build a relationship and do business?

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