Welcome to our first installment of… (drumroll please)… Blooom Brain Pickers! We’re picking the brains of the best in the biz to inform, entertain, and most of all, educate you when it comes to making personal finance decisions.
Pam Krueger is the creator of the award-winning MoneyTrack investor education television series that ran nationally on over 250 PBS stations. She is the recipient of two Gracie Awards, educating the public about personal investing, and finding the right financial advice. In 2017, Pam rolled out a one-hour special, MoneyTrack: Money for Life on PBS stations to explain what the fiduciary standard means to consumers.
Pam launched Wealthramp.com, the largest network of expertly vetted, fee-only fiduciary advisors to help consumers looking for qualified financial advisors who are independent and not commission-driven sales reps. Wealthramp is available to both individuals and employers who offer the service as a financial wellness benefit. Wealthramp uses an eHarmony style algorithm to match individual investors to the best-fit advisors and is available to consumers at no cost.
Pam has served on the board of directors of the California Jump$tart Coalition, an organization dedicated to increasing financial literacy among children and teens. She received the Financial Educator of the Year Award from the Financial Literacy Institute.
What is the best and/or worst financial advice you have ever received personally?
Without a doubt, the worst advice I ever got came from a very dear friend many years ago who really wanted me to invest in private mortgages ten minutes before the housing bubble burst. I never did take his advice but he did lose his shirt (or two). I just don’t consider myself wealthy enough to invest in alternative investments. I’m like a granny, I stay in my lane, and I stick to the boring basics. Best advice? Diversification wins all battles because… well… it does.
What are your thoughts on the future of financial advice and the direction of the industry in the coming decades?
I see the best possible combination is robo + human. The trick is finding the best available of both the robo-world and the human side. Let’s face it, we are emotional creatures and sometimes we really do need a living, breathing advisor to collaborate or to work through problems. Perhaps not now, but probably later. That’s the beauty of having robust online tools to help you manage on your own. I don’t see the future of advice as robo instead of human advisor, I see it as in addition to human advice. The older we get, the more complex our financial lives become and you may want someone to guide you one-on-one. But here’s the real challenge: human advisors are not created equal so the key is tapping the true talent, not settling for ‘just okay’ advice— especially if you’re about to retire!
The idea of combining technology + financial advisors also contributed to the creation of my company, Wealthramp. A viewer from our TV series, MoneyTrack on PBS. She was frustrated because after the financial crisis she felt she needed an advisor and she’d just fired her broker. She asked me point blank: why do I hate financial advisors? I told her I really don’t hate all of them. I love 5% of them. Given that so few are truly competent and put their clients’ interests first. That’s when the lightbulb went off and I had to ask myself why am I being so negative about the bad advisors when all I have to do is identify the excellent advisors and create a network of them across the country and let people come to me so I can match them to the best-fit advice that’s truly fiduciary. That’s how Wealthramp was born and it took me no less than four years to curate my network of fee-only advisors. I wanted to make sure that when a retiree worried about running out of money needs an experienced retirement income strategy, that person can turn to me. When someone comes to me and has a special needs family member to support, for example, I needed to make sure I’d be able to tap into my network and introduce that consumer to the best advisor possible for special needs planning. Or when a young software engineer at a late stage start up needs to understand his stock compensation and has only 90 days to make a life-changing decision, he knows I have the experts in private stock options and no one is going to sell them anything.
What is the one thing you wish more people knew about, given your experience in the industry?
As children we should have been taught the basics about how capitalism works, the economy, credit, practical money skills and an introduction to investing. These are life skills and if we’d gotten that baseline education, I probably would not be in business today. All kidding aside, people deserve to feel more confident about their own personal finances, and too many feel embarrassed. That’s just wrong and it creates a lot of financial stress.