Broker Check

True Knowledge

June 16, 2017

Max Planck was a physicist who lived about a hundred years ago. He is considered by many to be one of the most intelligent human beings who has ever lived. He invented what we know today as quantum mechanics. To the best of my understanding, quantum mechanics, at least in part, is about how atoms and particles of matter that are even smaller than atoms, behave together.

You're probably thinking "That's not much of an explanation." And you're right, it isn’t. But it's the best I can do with my limited understanding of that field. Which is precisely my point. A point that the following, amusing short story will help make.

You see, back in Planck's day there was no YouTube. There were no websites or 24 hour television news channels. People didn’t have the option to "Like" quantum mechanics on Facebook or follow Max on Twitter and Instagram. There were but magazines and black and white newspapers. And those were mostly local.

To be seen and heard, smart guys like Max hit the lecture circuit. They traveled from city to city, college to college and shared their valuable information in person, for a fee.

So the story goes, and who knows, it might be apocryphal, that after many a city and many a lecture, Planck's personal driver came to know the material by heart. And one sunny day this precocious chauffeur said, "Max just for fun, why not let me give the lecture tonight?" Planck thought about it a bit and said, "Why not.”

On this night, they happened to be in Vienna. The driver delivered the material flawlessly and at the end, there was a question and answer period. One of the professors from the local university asked Planck's driver, believing him to be Planck, a hellishly difficult question, to which the driver famously replied "You know, I’m disappointed, I came to a city like Vienna that is so advanced and enlightened, and to begin I get a simple question like this. It's so easy I’m going to let my driver take this one."

Back to my point. The driver was sharp but he wasn’t Max Planck. He was quick witted but that didn’t give him the deep knowledge that only decades of intense study can earn. He had memorized some material, but that material wasn’t his own.

All professions are, to some degree, populated with people who are glib, personable, funny and witty. I hope they’re also well meaning. But their real knowledge, when boiled down to gravy, might not be enough to cover a chicken fried steak. They mask their lack of true knowledge and understanding with jargon, slogans, pithy phrases and verbal acrobatics.

When questioned on some point they are usually reduced to one or two sharp, well-rehearsed rejoinders. If pressed further, they are often left hemming and hawing.

Whether it’s a doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician, or financial planner, make sure to ask these folks lots of questions. If you are not satisfied with the answers you receive, ask them to explain everything all over again but in a different way. Will they? Can they? If they can't or won’t, or if they become frustrated at being questioned, perhaps it’s because they don’t understand the information very well themselves.

I would never want to be operated on by doctors, drive over a bridge with my children designed by engineers, or have my home wired by electricians, who have only hearsay knowledge, like the driver in the story. Be careful when choosing a financial advisor. Am I suggesting that this person must necessarily have a fancy degree or a bunch of titles? No. However, they should have a broad and deep understanding of the information they share with you. Moreover, they should be willing to answer your questions, again and again, in different ways if need be, until you have the information and understanding you desire.

If you are of the mind to work with a financial advisor, seek one out who is worthy of their position. Get to know them. Ask them plenty of questions. Then and only then will you be in a position to decide if you want to work with them.

Planning for your future takes thinking and, ultimately, relies on you taking action. Think. Then, take action


Scott R. McGimpsey June 16th, 2017

This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Summit Brokerage Services Inc. nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC