The Value of a Financial Advisor
Many people learn from a young age not to talk about money. Do you remember talking to your parents about money when you were a child? Does this sound familiar?
Child: “Mom/Dad, can I get this toy?”
Child: “Why not? I want it!”
Parent: “We can’t afford to buy you everything you want.”
Child: “What can we afford? How much money do we have.”
Parent: “Don’t be rude. It’s impolite to ask people about money and how much they make.”
Maybe your parents were more open with you about finances. But you have probably seen a situation like this play out at a store. Our society teaches us that it is not acceptable to talk about our financial situation or ask people about theirs. This isn’t always a bad thing. I would hate to live in a society where people are bragging about how much they make or shaming others for their lack of success. I know it still happens, but hopefully on a smaller scale.
What happens to us when we spend our whole life keeping our finances secret and dealing with money internally? We become afraid to ask for help. We pick up some tidbits of information from parents and friends as to what we should be doing at our age. The advice could be complete garbage, but they appear successful, so they must be doing something right. We go to work, pay the bills, save, spend, invest (hopefully), rinse, and repeat.
Most Americans wander aimlessly through their career making financial decisions every day without having a clear sense of why they are doing it. It’s all fine until something goes wrong. Maybe they max out a couple credit cards. Maybe they get hit with a major hospital bill. Or maybe they just wake up at age 55 and realize they have no clue how they will be able to retire. This is ordinary.
When was the last time someone asked you about your financial goals? When was the last time you saw stock market news and got nervous? When was the last time you asked someone if you were saving enough to retire at 65? When was the last time you were worried about your finances and called someone just to talk about it?
These are the things you should be looking for in a financial advisor. Advisors should not just be investment managers. There are many new platforms that can invest your money automatically with minimal fees. That’s the easy part. A great advisor is there for all the other things. They will help you create goals. They will guide your actions during stock market swings. They know your plan. They know your dreams. They know your fears. Well…your financial fears at least! They are the person in your life that you can finally be open and honest with about your finances.
I am a firm believer that anyone can handle their own finances. But it takes time, knowledge, and a lot of discipline. We are taught to internalize our personal finance situation from a young age, but you don’t need to. A great financial advisor can help you through every phase of life. They will manage your investments, but that is not the true value. The true value lies in that phone call when life blindsides you and you need someone to reassure you that your plan is still working. This will probably happen many times, but you will always have someone to talk through it.
Mike Zeiter, CPA/PFS