The Name Game: Advisor Or Adviser
By Brent Clanton, Executive Producer of “The Real Investment Hour”
What’s in a name? Apparently, in these troubled times, nuances mean a lot–especially if you’re concerned about the connotations that can be intimated by the flick of a vowel.
Remember ‘potato-gate?’ Then Vice-President Dan Quayle’s apparent unforgivable spelling gaffe of adding an ‘e’ to the maligned tuber resulted in a 1990’s version of a twit-storm of criticism. Glad it was only a spud; Quayle was un-ruffled.
The newest ‘issue’ now turns on the letters ‘e’ and ‘o’ as they appear in the variants, adviser vs advisor. Financial wizard Ken Fisher is up in arms on the correct spelling—and meaning—of the noun’s implications to genuine fiduciaries vs lower caste fiscal snake oil salesmen.
Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is getting involved, as Fisher calls for banning the use of “advisor” by those who would proffer their services in managing the money of others. His contention is that “brokerage and advisory businesses need clear, separate words to describe them, as was intended by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 governing brokers and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.”
‘Advisor’ is apparently a bastardization of ‘adviser,’ used by brokers to get around the language and the intent of the 1940 law. According to the Grammarist.com, “Adviser and advisor are both accepted spellings of the noun meaning one who advises or counsels. There is no difference between them. But adviser, the older version, is listed as the primary spelling in most dictionaries, and it is about five times as common as advisor in current news publications from throughout the English-speaking world.”
In Fisher’s comment letter to the SEC, he notes, “the financial advice industry needs “’disharmonization’”—“clear, bright, red lines so investors know exactly what they are getting. Advisers versus Advisors language is a start.”
But what about “Financial Advisor Magazine” which is a publication dedicated to the education and information of the financial advice community? Must they now rebrand their entire image for the sake of a “vowel.” Does the “o” make them somehow less credible in the information and service they provide?
I’ve wondered what other meanings could be derived by substituting other vowels, like ‘i,’ ‘u,’ and ‘y.’ Might an advisir be one that only provides financial guidance to those of Middle-Eastern decent? Could an advisur be a financial visionary, or sayer of sooths? Imagine the possibilities. And, of course, an advisyr could be perceived as an especially conservative advocate in any circumstance, advising to clients ‘slow your roll’ before making an otherwise hasty decision. The possibilities are endless.
It may be, as William Shakespeare once asked, ‘what’s in a name? A rose by any other is just as sweet.’
Whether your financial confidant uses ‘e’ or ‘o,’ or ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c,’ what matters is whether they’re working on your behalf and for your ultimate benefit. And if they’re not, it’s probably time for more than a “vowel” movement.