About That “Consider Firing Your Male Broker” Op-Ed

Tyler Linsten Investing, Personal Finance

Hopefully you’ve also fired your Mail Broker by now. Stamp prices are at record levels this week and he’s just sitting around doing nothing about it! This aggression cannot stand.

In all seriousness, I’m actually referring to the controversial New York Times opinion piece penned by a financial advisor in New Orleans this month. To sum it up, she makes the case to fire your “male broker.” Wading into this topic is fraught with peril, but I’ll do it anyway because it’s my blog.

Don’t mistake my maleness for generating my reaction. It’s my status as a fellow fiduciary fee-only advisor (and also a fellow CFA Charterholder!) that draws out my serious criticism here.

Ms. DuQuesnay says she didn’t write the headline, and I believe her. But her argument is weakly-supported, largely anecdotal, and her conclusion is sexist and promotes reverse discrimination. Worse, she takes focus away from the real issue in financial advice and instead hones in on a topic that was sure to generate clicks and comments. After all, she works for a firm whose business model is based on generating business through rising traffic on its network of financial blogs. (Its CEO heads a firm espousing long-term, patient investing, yet he appears daily on a CNBC show dedicated to short-term trading and speculation. Go figure)

Promoting one sex or the other as superior, in any industry, is reverse discrimination, and is taking precisely the polar opposite stance from that of a progressive approach toward a much-needed equal playing field. The bigger fight here is broker versus fiduciary, not woman versus man. We all lose in the latter scenario. I get the sense that Ms. duQuesnay knows better but was given a national megaphone and wanted to make sure her voice reverberated.

I’ll end it with this level-headed take, published in the NYT a few days later: