Should you trust Wenzel Analytics?
Financial advisers often deal with trusts and trustees. Here I want to talk about you trusting me. Most of us have been hurt by trusting someone who in some way was untrustworthy. Therefore, you should be careful and cautious before entering a relationship, especially one having to do with important matters such as money.
This is an outline of my philosophy for developing and maintaining a trustworthy relationship.
Who is Lee Wenzel?
Trust is built on getting to know another person – their style, credentials and history. While formal credentials are important, we often decide to trust people based on their personal style, compatibility and life experiences that relate to our situation.
The decision to work with Wenzel Analytics, Inc. is really a decision to trust me, Lee Wenzel, President (and everything else) for Wenzel Analytics, Inc.
I have expertise in investing and fundamental business analysis, technical patterns and statistical research used in investing. I have broad experience in organizing finances and the strategizing and planning important for average families. Most of my experience is in equities, real estate, and personal or family loans, with limited experience in bonds. Complementary to that, I have a background working with families, facilitating meetings, career and business development and managing lifestyle or everyday spending.
Wenzel Analytics, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser. This involved my passing a Series 65 exam from the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and meeting other financial and reporting requirements of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. I became a serious equities investor in 1995, subscribing to several data and software services, doing extensive statistical research with a data mining tool called KnowledgeSEEKER, reading extensively, and attending many ongoing investment groups and seminars. I have written many research reports and led several seminars on equity investing. I have experience in residential real estate, having owned and managed twenty eight units at one time.
I have a master’s degree in social group work and am ABD (all but dissertation) for a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. I began doing financial counseling in the 70s at Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis, did considerable public speaking and training on family dynamics and personal financial management, and served on related boards. I returned to financial consulting after a corporate career in employee assistance services and administration at Honeywell, independent behavioral health care consulting, and work in information technology as a software developer and data warehouse business analyst.
I have served as board member and board chair of several non-profit organizations and foundations, including the Preserve Association in Eden Prairie where I have lived since 1974 and the North Star Ski Touring Club. I have been president of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) since 2006 which involves finding and introducing speakers for our six programs each year. We attract many nationally renowned speakers and have an average attendance of about 85.
I am an analytical person—easy-going, deliberate, thorough, questioning and goal-oriented. I do my research, get organized, and then act. I am comfortable teaching, explaining and advising—with you asking questions and making decisions. However, I know that you wouldn’t be hiring me if you had the time to learn everything you are expecting from me.
Please ask if you are interested in further detail, especially about my investing experience and philosophy. (Also see Investing Process.) There are a lot of things I am not, including an accountant, lawyer or certified financial planner.
My business motivation is to deserve your trust and respect, to see consistent and high returns for you, and to maintain my own financial independence. I thoroughly enjoy investing.
Criteria for Trust
Trust is a credibility decision.
Since being trustworthy is so important and at the heart of the relationship I want to have with you, I will spell out some of my personal work standards.
Trust is built on 4 Cs of caring, competence, context and continuity. Caring means that you matter to me. I'm not just managing money, I'm managing your money. Competence means that I can do what I say I will do. Context means putting big and little things into a proper context for forming appropriate perspective to make decisions. We don’t want a bunch of pieces but rather an integrated whole. Our logo is about context, how one thing fits within another, and that within another. And continuity means to reliably be there in the future and keep commitments.
The following questions form my personal standards for being trustworthy:
Do I listen such that you are understood and know it?
Do I make decisions appropriate to your specific situation?
Am I relating in a way that we can enjoy working together?
If these things are not happening, we need to talk about it.
Do I have both the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver what you are asking for?
Do I have the appropriate tools, along with methodical ways of doing business and reaching decisions, to ensure accuracy and good use of our time?
Do we have the priorities right? Since finances are about juggling competing options for where the money might come from or go, am I able to give perspective so that things fit together?
Are questions being asked at the appropriate level of depth to assure me that major implications are not being overlooked?
How will our creation grow and adapt in the future?
What degree of business organization is necessary for me to reliably fulfill client commitments?
Is my personal life being managed so that it does not intrude on my ability to be here for my clients? How do I guard against becoming over-extended or in other ways burn out?
How can I build a viable business so that I can keep long-term commitments to you? If something should happen to me, what succession plans are in place?
Trust Selectively – Especially Regarding Money
So even if I hold these standards, can you trust me? To answer that, you will gather data and make judgments about me. The level of trust will change over time. But even in our relationship, trust is appropriate in some areas and not others. I may be able to think and work on your behalf in most areas, which is part of being professional, while in other areas we may have a conflict of interests. For example, if my fee is $1,000 rather than $500, that is in my interest and not yours. (If the lower fee would put me out of business and you would lose a resource you value, the lower fee would not be in your interest.)
My experience in corporate purchasing of counseling services was that if the vendor is financially driven, it is important to closely watch contract performance (if indeed they are the best vendor). If the vendor is service driven, it was sometimes necessary to raise compensation in order to maintain viable vendors. Interestingly, people on many different selection teams always agreed on whether the vendor was financially driven or service driven. I believe this is a service-driven practice. I have no intention of becoming a business with additional staff and growth beyond what I can do personally.
Creating a Trustworthy Relationship
How do you decide that you can trust me to work for your best interest when I am also in it for my own interest? In addition to the four Cs, I suggest the following criteria:
Trust works when:
We have clearly defined expectations and responsibilities.
Each party is capable of fulfilling those responsibilities.
There is a history, plus other reasons, to believe that each party not only can, but will keep their end of the bargain.
There are minimal reasons or incentives built into the situation, causing the other person to not fully cooperate for our best interest.
Good data on performance and events are reviewed closely, and we share in decisions as much as possible.
We can talk about the relationship.
I believe the primary purpose of every contract, whether spoken or written, is to create a more trustworthy relationship. Written agreements are helpful to clarify expectations, although too much attention to detailed written agreements makes me suspicious.
I am honored by the trust clients have placed in me. In becoming a client you are making very important decisions about who to trust, how far, and with how much. I am aware that in choosing an independent practitioner you are choosing personal credibility over that of a large financial institution. I will do my best to be worthy of your trust.