Beware advisers posing as wizards

Posted by Robin Powell on April 7, 2022

Beware advisers posing as wizards





Readers of a certain age will recall an old Christmas tradition — the crushing disappointment of discovering, yet again, that the afternoon film on Christmas Day on BBC1 is the same film as last year, the year before and the year before that. 

Yup. The opening credits to the The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland were the cue for the adults to fall asleep and the children to play with their newly opened toys. I can’t remember anyone in the Powell household ever watching that film from start to finish.

It was, however, a charming story, based on a 1900 children’s fantasy model by L. Frank Baum. Garland played the heroine, a teenager named Dorothy, who lives in a farmhouse in Kansas. One day, a tornado strikes and lifts the house into its funnel and drops it into an unknown land. A “good” witch named Glinda tells Dorothy to look for a yellow-bricked road and follow it to Emerald City, home of the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard, she assures her, will help Dorothy to find her way back home.

Along the route, Dorothy meets a scarecrow who desires brains, a tin man who wants a heart, and a cowardly lion who wishes for courage. All four of them hope the Wizard can give them what they want. But when they finally meet him, well, he’s a bit of a letdown. 


Good people, bad wizards

The Wizard explains that he’s not a real wizard at all but accepted the job for financial reasons. 

“I think you are a very bad man,” says a clearly disappointed Dorothy.

“Oh, no, my dear,” replies the Wizard. “I’m really a very good man, but I’m a very bad wizard, I must admit.”

I’ve always thought the Wizard of Oz as a perfect way to explain the true value of financial advice.

Traditionally, financial advisers have been seen as having almost supernatural powers. They were expected to predict an unknowable future, to time the ups and down of the stock market, and to identify, in advance, which stocks, or funds, countries or sectors will outperform. The evidence shows us, time and again, it can’t be done.

That doesn’t stop people believing otherwise. There are even many advisers who think they have those powers, or at least like to give that impression to their clients. And like the Wizard of Oz, they aren’t bad people — just bad wizards!




ROBIN POWELL is the editor of The Evidence-Based Investor. He works as a journalist and consultant specialising in finance and investing, and as a campaigner for a fairer, more transparent asset management industry. You can find him here on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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Robin Powell

Robin is a journalist and campaigner for positive change in global investing. He runs Regis Media, a niche provider of content marketing for financial advice firms with an evidence-based investment philosophy. He also works as a consultant to other disruptive firms in the investing sector.


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