The Investment Scientist

Back to ‘The Investment Scientist’

Posted on: September 22, 2013

ImageSeven years ago when I started my advisory practice, I used to call myself ‘The Investment Scientist’ to differentiate from those run of the mill financial advisors.

My blog was called ‘The Investment Scientist’, and in marketing materials, I highlighted my academic training and scientific approaches toward investing.

Then, for whatever reason, I stopped doing that. Even the title of my blog has been changed to ‘The Investment Fiduciary.’ (The word ‘fiduciary’ signals my intention to put my clients’ interest first, but few understand its true meaning.)

Over the past year, I’ve rarely heard people call me an investment fiduciary, but sometimes would come across a long lost contact who’d say, “Aren’t you the Investment Scientist?”

There is a lesson here for me. Don’t use obscure words people don’t understand in marketing.

So why am I reverting back to ‘The Investment Scientist’ again?

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Number one, I deserve it. Do you know how the aforementioned run of the mill financial advisor is trained? I, on the other hand, am someone who not only understands, but also uses Nobel winning economic theories to help my clients build and preserve wealth. I can count on one hand how many financial advisors in this country can say the same.

Number two, the term ‘financial advisor’ deservingly has a bad connotation. Financial advisors are considered to be about as honest as politicians, but far less so than prostitutes. When I tell a stranger I am a financial advisor, I can see his/her body slightly turn away from me as if wanting to run away but is pinned down by etiquette.

Malcolm Gladwell writes about ‘thin-slicing’ in his NY Times bestseller “Blink.” The concept is that people are wired to use a thin slice of information to make broad generalizations. I believe that’s exactly what’s going on when I tell people I am a ‘financial advisor.’

When I tell people I am an ‘investment scientist’ however, I can see their eyes light up with curiosity and I get to go on to tell them about “Modern Portfolio Theory” by Harry Markowitz and “Behavioral Economics” by Daniel Kahneman and how these Nobel winning theories can help them build and preserve wealth.

It’s a win-win. They may go away a little bit more enlightened, and I may end up with a new client.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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