There is a political movement afoot in Congress to gut the fiduciary rule. The fiduciary rule would essentially obligate, by law, all licensed financial advisors to act in the best interests of their clients, and those interests must supersede any consideration of the financial advisor’s monetary gain.
You might ask, “Duh, why would you even need a fiduciary rule in the first place?” Because American retirement savers lose an estimated $17 billion a year due to conflicted financial advice.
What level of honesty do financial advisors owe their customers? I think they owe them complete honesty. But I have a question that hits closer to home for you: What level of honesty do office-supply-and-service vendors owe their customers? My answer is the same for both questions, and your answer should be the same, as well.
If you agree, then let me ask you this: In whose financial interests do you think your company’s copier contract was written? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.
How do I know your copier contract wasn’t written in your best interest? Because I’ve been there and done that. Call me a confessing, latent whistleblower; or a born-again evangelist in the cause of contractual honesty, but I used to be one of the — let’s just call them “opportunists.”
I’m not a caped crusader, and in full disclosure, I now make my money by keeping vendors honest, but there was a time when I was required to negotiate against the best interests of my customers.
For the 15 years I sold office equipment, I sat on the seller’s side of the table. The dealer channel trained me in strategies that locked in repeat business, hidden costs, monthly payments and contractual control of future costs. I once heard an attorney call this “intellectual dishonesty.” Eventually, I had enough of the questionable requirements placed on me by the manufacturer, the leasing companies and the vendors. It was time to change teams.
For the past seven years, I’ve been the buyer’s advocate — a Business Process Outsourcing expert (BPO), leveraging what I know of the opposition’s playbook to save my clients time, reduce their frustrations, alleviate their confusion and — almost always — deliver financial savings without sacrificing their needs and wants.
And the future looks good. More companies and organizations are looking to the emerging phalanx of BPOs — the dedicated change agents who will represent you and do the heavy lifting. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Who better to mentor your vendor-contract decisions than the person who has a dossier of inside intel? It’s like taking a former auto sales rep with you to help you buy a new car.
I’m proud to be a BPO. We want to help you reduce waste, avoid unnecessary spend and discover opportunities to redirect your funds to other, more-important projects. Contact a BPO and have a discussion before you enter into — or renegotiate — another vendor contract.
I have to admit, it really does feel good when you’re one of the Davids who defeat the Goliaths — repeatedly.
Al Kietzmann is an owner of, and advisor to, Copier Consulting, LLC
and former Senior Auditor for Tryon Clear View Group
New investment rule could save investors billions.
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