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Looking Sharp: How
Much Is Too Much?
Professional image is a balancing
act: Not too chic, but not too shabby.
Here’s how 6 planners walk the line.
By Miriam Rozen
Everyone’s heard the maxim, “Dress for success.” But the truth is that the image you present to clients — through
the clothes you wear, the car you drive or
even the furnishings in your office suite
— requires a highly tuned sensitivity.
For advisors in particular, image can
be a balancing act. If your surroundings
are shabby, clients may be skeptical
about your ability to build wealth. But
too much sparkle (in the parking lot or
on your fingers) could raise suspicions
about your financial habits — and perhaps the source of your fees.
“People do judge,” says Kevin Cusack
of TriCor Financial Services in Las Vegas.
“If we are spending a lot of money, they
are thinking, ‘So that’s where my fees
Financial Planning asked several
planners to tell us how they walk the
line between looking sharp and avoiding
ostentation. Here’s what they told us.
URBAN ANd CAR-FREE
Prospective clients frequently quiz
planners about the kinds of cars they
drive, as a kind of a litmus test. But
Philadelphia-based Christopher Dylan
Morello has an easy answer: I don’t.
AIMING FOR CASUAL
In Las Vegas, Cusack says, casual style
rules. “It’s very difficult to get me into a
long pair of pants,” he says.
Cusack works from a virtual office
and has found its flexibility useful and
his clients unfazed by it, even complimenting his approach. His ride, too,
is low key and low cost: He drives an
older model, relatively low-end SUV.
All that modesty matches the life-
styles and attitudes of his clients, who
have about $800,000 in assets on
average. Cusack believes they prefer
his lack of opulence. “I have people
say, ‘I’m glad you are not driving an
As for the shorts, he adds: “Never
has anyone made a comment about
what I was wearing. That’s one of the
things about Vegas. People would
November 2012 Financial Planning 77