Phil Cannella has long positioned himself as a true senior advocate. After he recognized that so many insurance and financial professionals lacked the ethics needed to provide a real, long-term value to their clients, he understood that his role in the financial world was to be a consumer advocate first It was not about ‘selling’ financial services; it was about thinking about and looking out for the concerns of people in and approaching retirement and working out ways to help them navigate the turbulent waters that mark the industry.
Consumer advocacy means putting the client’s interests ahead of your own. Many financial advisor find it easy to gain the trust of clients, then abuse that trust by positioning the assets of your client where the greater benefit is for the advisor rather than the consumer.
Phil Cannella often says he will forsake a commission where it comes to helping the consumer and doing what is in the best interest of the client. This is something that is difficult for many to do as money is the subject of so much greed. This might be a problem everywhere in the world, but in America, a nation apparently obsessed with the material, it is particularly bad as this article explains:
“America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, has a large population that enjoys a standard of life far higher than that of most people on Earth. Even our poorest citizens are considered rich by people in some Third World countries. “Americans are not ashamed of amassing huge quantities of material things, a mindset that differentiates us from much of the rest of the world. ‘Making it big’ and ‘having it all’ are part and parcel of the American Dream,” writes Diane Coutu, senior editor at Harvard Business Journal.
Unfortunately, much of America’s economic success is driven by greed and the desire for power and money. Our nation is obsessed with these things, and the more we get, the more we want—even if our greed threatens to destroy us. Though many Americans share the motto “Greed is good,” like Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street, their greed will eventually lead to punishment for their actions.”
“The Enron scandal demonstrated how money, power, and the accompanying greed can grow exponentially once we allow ourselves to start down that slippery slope. Our judgment becomes impaired, ethics compromised, and our management style blinded with ambition. What drives people who are so powerful and wealthy to take a path that can lead to prison and, in Ken Lay’s case, death? As I sadly followed the Enron story, I asked myself, ‘When is enough, enough?’”
This is one of the reasons Phil Cannella positions himself as a consumer advocate. Greed by a financial advisor can only lead to bad advice, not only hurting the consumer but the advisor too. This is why Phil Cannella defiantly campaigns against Wall Street greed and strives to have a fiduciary standard held and met by all those who call themselves financial professionals.
As a consumer advocate, Phil Cannella sees himself as a person who provides a service to his consumers and not someone who ‘sells’ his consumers. Phil Cannella educates consumers so that they can make informed decisions for themselves and thereby the right decisions that fit into the goals and objectives they have for their retirement.
What exactly is consumer advocacy then? One article maintains that “Consumer advocacy refers to actions taken by individuals or groups to promote and protect the interests of the buying public. Historically, consumer advocates have assumed a somewhat adversarial role in exposing unfair business practices or unsafe products that threaten the welfare of the general public. Consumer advocates use tactics like publicity, boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, and lawsuits to raise awareness of issues affecting consumers and to counteract the financial and political power of the organizations they target. Since even large businesses can be visibly wounded when their mistreatment of consumers or other constituencies arouses the ire of consumer advocacy organizations, it should be obvious to small business owners that they can ill-afford to engage in business practices that might draw the attention of consumer advocates.”
It is a delicate balance to maintain as far as holding to a fiduciary standard, being a consumer advocate at all times and not going down the path of greed. It doesn’t take much to sway off the course and look for the product that might pay a higher commission or provide for ongoing fees no matter how well or badly you manage your client’s accounts.
This is what makes Phil Cannella very different among his peers. He is always striving for the very best among his peers and seeks to create an environment that is truly consumer driven. A case in point is his media company, Retirement Media Inc., whose purpose is to “bring Truth to the American Retiree.”
These traits exemplify Phil Cannella and explain his career-long success in consumer advocacy.