In a subtly terrifying ad, a dreadlocked DJ poses as a clean-shaven financial planner, and despite the fact that he has absolutely no training on the subject, easily convinces almost all of his prospective clients to trust him with their money.
The ad, produced by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, is an attempt to get consumers to look more critically at the qualifications of the people we trust to manage our finances. To illustrate their concerns, the CFP Board enlisted a DJ named Azymyth Kaminski. Kaminski, who normally sports long dreadlocks, copious piercings and dark eyeliner, is given a clean-cut makeover and handed a few financial phrases to use. Then, he sits in a conference room where he speaks with a number of potential clients about their money, keeping them in the dark about his musical past and lack of credentials. All but one client decides to go with him after the consultation.
“You seem knowledgeable, professional,” says one woman after he mentions a 401k retirement plan option.
“We gave him buzzwords, like ‘401(k) is the way to go,’” Joe Maugeri, who works at the CFP Board, told the New York Times. “I talked to him about 529 plans and he said, ‘All 56 states have 529 plans?’ I said, ‘Well, yes, all 50 of them have them.’ He was a real nice guy.”
In reality, most financial advisers are at least a little bit more qualified than Kaminski, who — after revealing his identity to the potential clients — dances around the conference room to techno music. But the ad serves as a cautionary tale and fair warning to all of us: things are not always as they seem, and we’d be wise to do our homework before putting our money in the hands of just anyone without properly vetting their accreditation.