In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the value of advice. I get asked what I do and most people immediately think I manage money. That’s true, but it’s only part of what I do. There’s much more to what a good financial planner will do besides invest your money. Listen in and find out how working with a planner can help you in the good times and bad times.
- There’s a difference between a financial planner and an investment advisor.
- A financial planner can provide a lot more services that can help you reach your goals. Listen in to hear more.
- Understand the key difference makers that separate a financial planner from an investment advisory.
- How do you select a financial planner/advisor?
Today on Agile Finance Radio, we’re going to talk about the value of advice. I get asked what I do and most people immediately think I manage money. That’s true, but it’s only part of what I do. There’s much more to what a good financial planner will do besides invest your money. Listen in and find out how working with a planner can help you in the good times and bad times.
Financial Planning Defined
Now that I’ve been in the financial industry profession for the past three years, I understand why people don’t understand exactly what a financial planner does. If you think about the last few decades, the primary service that has dominated the industry is investment management and that’s what people think of.
So, what is a financial planner or advisor? I think a good analogy would be that of your primary physician. You go to them whenever anything is wrong with your body and they know everything about your past health issues, any medications you are taking, and what to look for with current symptoms and when to bring in specialists when necessary.
It’s the same for your financial "physician." They look at your financial situation, make recommendations, and pull in other specialist, like lawyers or accountants, when it makes sense. Wherever your money is flowing, a financial planner can help you decide if that’s the best way for that money to flow based on your dreams and goals.
Specific Financial Planning Advice
Let’s talk about some of the things you should expect when working with an advisor. An advisor should help you understand and act on the important money decision in your life. For example:
- How much money to save to reach your retirement goal
- If you need life insurance and how much life insurance you need and the best type for your situation
- How much cash you need to have readily available
- How taxes can effect your situation or decisions you make and when to bring in an accountant
- Determine a plan for your company stock options. Do you exercise, sell, or donate?
- Plan for your kids education
- Plan for a major purchase like a home or a vacation home
- Evaluate your company benefits
- Evaluate rental properties or real estate investments
- Develop a plan to take social security to maximize the benefit
These are just some of the things that a good financial planner can help guide you on and provide council on the best way to move forward. But these are just tasks and mostly some calculations but the real value comes next.
All of the things we talked about are tactics. You can google until your thumbs hurt for all of the personal finance topics you want to read about for many lifetimes.
The real value comes when we apply those tactics and add in your goals to craft a strategy that is important to you and your family. Here’s some of the things that I bring when working with my clients.
The first thing is clarity. There is so much financial noise out there and seven billion things that you can choose from. It’s difficult to choose what is right for your family. It’s like when you go to the grocery store and there are thirteen brands of pasta to choose from. Our brains our not wired to process that much information and when we are presented with that many options, guess what, in most cases we don’t make a decision or we do the equivalent of flipping a coin. I help narrow down the choices and get clear on our next steps.
Intentionality is the next thing I focus on. Many times we are busy doing all the other important things in our lives that we forget about taking care of some of the financial details that we need to tend to. Like having the right balance of available cash, taking care of old 401k account, looking at how are money is allocated. Being intentional can help you make better use of your money when you are actively planning for it’s purpose.
Another thing I do is help keep your goals aligned with your financial behavior. If you are spending like congress but say you want to retire in five years, we’ll need to have a conversation about what’s more important. To meet our goals we’ll need to review our progress, see if those goals are still important, and make any adjustments necessary.
And doing this with an advisor helps keep you accountable to your goals and stick with the plan that we made together. Financial success is more about our behavior or change of behavior and having someone that you are accountable to increases your chance of success. Think about anytime you’ve tried to change your diet, exercise, or relationships. If you’ve had an accountability partner, those changes are easier to get through and build successful habits that can move you forward to reaching your goals.
Another benefit of an advisor is they educate you and help you gain confidence in your own financial future. One of my clients recently told me after a session that he learned more in our 45 minutes than he had in the last year. Now my client is equipped with knowledge that is actually useful to their future. That’s one of my goals is to help my clients actually understand what is going on and why we’re doing it.
Sometimes, a challenge with our money is deciding what to do and questioning our decisions. One of my clients was struggling with deciding to buy a car. They almost felt guilty about wanting to do that. But after we discussed the situation, looked at their big picture goals, and discussed the options we had to make the purchase, they felt relieved that they could go ahead and get the car. I gave them permission so to speak to do what they wanted. Now a good advisor isn’t going to let you do everything you want. You can probably afford any one thing you want, just not everything.
One of the most useful things I do is just listen. Many times clients just need someone to talk to about their financial anxieties and have that in a private confidential setting. Many times those financial frustrations are rooted in something else in their lives that they need to talk through or get off their chest.
I’m not a counselor but when you have that level of a trusted relationship, it can make a world of difference in how you think and also the progress you can make in your finances, but also in other areas of your life.
Those are just some of the non-tangible advantages to having an advisor on your side.
Finding an advisor
So how do you find a good advisor? Certainly, you can ask friends, family, or coworkers for recommendations. But I would probably go deeper.
You’ll want to think about their philosophy to planning and investing. Does it match up to how you would like to invest your money?
How do they get compensated? Are they fee-only or do they get a commission for the products they recommend? Are there areas that could be a conflict of interest, like the products they recommend or are they only allowed to offer certain products because of the company they work for?
Are they a fiduciary advisor? Have them put that in writing and see what they say. What credentials do they have and what experience have they had in market downturns?
Do you like the person? You’ll have to work with them so, you should at least enjoy the initial conversation that you have when you are looking for an advisor.
What does their onboarding process look like and what will be their ongoing working relationship with you?
For me, I started my own company because I didn’t want to be told what products I could use or how I should work with my clients. I wanted to reduce conflicts of interests and eliminate as much bias as I could during the process. That meant, following the fiduciary standard, getting licensed by my state as an investment advisor, which meant I had to pass an examination that proved I knew the laws around providing advice and had some investment knowledge. It also meant clear, straight forward pricing with no hidden fees or commissions.
I took it a step further and made sure I could prove to myself that I knew what I was doing even though I have over 20 years of investing experience. I acquired additional education and also passed the Certified Financial Planner exam, or CFP, which is kind of the gold standard for financial planners. Does it mean you are the greatest ever, nah, but it does give you some insight into the level of dedication to the profession and ethics behind my advise.
If you are ready to get more than just investment advice and get the real value of having a trusted advisor, then head on over to agile finance radio.com and select the work with me option. We’ll have a 15-20 minute strategy call and then see if it makes sense for us to work together.
That does it for this episode of Agile Finance Radio. Tune in next time as we discover more ways to win with money, gain at life, and ultimately retire with confidence.