Comprehensive consulting for investment advisors, broker-dealers and private funds.

When "Best Practice" Isn't

I was out to dinner recently and, after the waiter carefully described the specials - a filet mignon or a delightful-sounding pork loin - my husband asked what she liked better. The waiter paused and then said, “Well, actually, I’m vegan, so I haven’t tried them, but I bet they’re really good.”

I bet they are! And her opinion was entirely irrelevant.

The lesson here is twofold. First, perspective and context matter. Both at dinner and when running your company. Second, there are serious limits to the practical value of other people’s opinions.

This is why I always cringe a little when clients ask me to share the “best practice” concerning some complex area of adviser management. The best practice for mutual fund conglomerates? Bank affiliates? Crypto-currency fund managers? Boutique advisers with 25 employees and a niche tech-exec client base? The best practice when you've got tons of money to throw at the problem or when you need a fix and you need to do it on a shoestring?  Perspective and context matter!

Often, the real question is, “What’s the best solution for us to this thorny/routine/undefined problem?” Usually, there’s something to learn from the experience of others. Always, it matters who you are, what your company does, the resources you have, and what you value. Always, it matters whether you’re trying to solve a thorny problem, or a routine one, or an undefined one. Always it matters what the consequences are, of both the intended and doing nothing. Clarifying those variables is one of the best things you can do before implementing a solution. And I’ll even go so far as to say that’s a best practice.

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