A friend recently asked me about his investments. He wanted answers to a couple of very specific questions and was disappointed to hear that I would need to look at his situation from a much broader perspective. In order to give him the best advice, we would need to consider his questions in relation to all of the financial aspects of his life. This is the essence of comprehensive financial planning.
He jokingly replied “if you look at all of my finances, you will see how messed up I am.” He said this in jest, but this is a realistic concern for most people. Not only are people afraid to expose their mistakes to a financial planner, they’re also afraid to discover those mistakes for themselves. Most people have this same apprehension when visiting a financial planner for the first time. This fear can be so powerful that it may prevent someone from seeking the advice they need from a financial planner.
If you have ever felt this apprehension, please consider the following points. Those who become fee-only financial planners, enter the profession because of their passion to help people. When you consider the amount of time and energy necessary to become a good fee-only financial planner, there are far more profitable professions. All ACA Advisors have a college education and many have advanced degrees. They have completed hours of specific financial planning training and continually update these skills. These planners go through this because of their passion to help clients.
When good planners meet with clients, they do not judge them. Planners listen intently to the client’s situation to find ways to make the client’s life better. Your financial planner has many other clients who are in similar situations as you. Not only have they already seen all sorts of situations with their clients, they may have made the same mistakes themselves. Remember that financial planners are human and may have already been in a similar situation.
Many planners also employ financial advisors for their finances. It’s not because they lack the knowledge to manage their own investments, but many agree that it’s incredibly helpful to have an objective perspective when dealing with money. Many advisors entered the profession after going through the financial planning process with another advisor. They discovered the value of financial planning and want to share their discovery with others.
We are continually evaluated for our performance in life. It begins with letter grades in school, continues with performance evaluations at work and then all of the other times we are critiqued in life. As difficult as it is, we cannot take this baggage into the financial planning meeting. When you meet with your advisor, it is not your performance that will be evaluated. Your advisor does not expect you to have all the answers or to have made perfect decisions. We are always learning and cannot possibly have been born with the knowledge to make perfect decisions.
Your financial adviser understands that life is not as perfect as in a textbook. Each of your financial decisions was made under less than ideal circumstances and was most likely the best decision at the time given the information you had. When you made your choices, you did not have the luxury of hindsight.
If fear has ever prevented you from enjoying the valuable benefits of holistic financial planning, understand that most people have the same apprehension. Your financial planner is there to help you move forward and will not judge your past. If you have made it this far, you have not made any devastating choices, but you may benefit from some direction and coaching and make even better choices in the future.