The 6 Worst Pieces of Financial Advice

As part of your wealth building strategy, you should have a third party give you feedback on your personal financial plan. That could be a friend, relative, or a paid financial professional.  There is no guarantee that the advice or suggestions that you receive will work out and you need to use your own common sense and analysis to figure out the right thing to do. Unfortunately all humans are unique and we all come with different tax brackets, risk tolerance, and financial goals. That is why it is so difficult to commoditize financial advice. No matter how hard the brokerage industry tries to put your money into a portfolio box marked conservative, moderate or aggressive; you know deep down that certain aspects of your money does not fit in that box. So here are some common investment advice remarks that you should run from:

1.) It will eventually come back to what you paid for it.  Don’t count on it. Every time you buy an investment you should have a plan for when to sell it. Just hoping that it will come back to what you paid for it isn’t going to make it happen. You must have a benchmark to consider whether the investment is worth sticking with. If your small-cap stock fund is going down and all small-cap stock funds are going down, why would you sell it? Realize that markets go up and go down and you must have a selling strategy as well as a buying strategy.

2.) You are young so you can afford to take more risk.  I have seen young people who are risk adverse and elderly people that can stomach wild swings in the market. Where are you in the spectrum? Don’t let anyone judge what type of portfolio or risk tolerance you have by your age. Your risk tolerance should coincide with your financial goals not your age.

3.) You are in a high tax bracket so you need to put every penny into tax deferred plans.  Yes, tax deferred plans like the IRA, 401k, 403b, etc. can help save on taxes but the end result can be a very high taxable income at retirement. The 3 pillars of income sources to replace a paycheck are Social Security, tax deferred plans and pensions, and investment accounts. By having these three, you can minimize taxes at retirement and net more income. If you are heavily withdrawing from tax deferred plans for paycheck replacement, you will find your Social Security being taxed and you may be in a higher tax bracket than when you were working.

4.) You won’t get any tax deduction from that investment.  When considering an investment you need to first figure out if it is suitable for you which includes taxation, but it should not be your sole consideration. A higher return on an investment may offset the taxes paid.

5.) It won’t cost you a thing.  No commission and no-load does not mean free. There is a cost to everything and you need to find out what it is. Once you do, you can compare it to others and see if the fees are reasonable for what you get or extraordinary and will eat into any returns you get. Read the fine print and you will see in every investment that someone is getting paid.

6.) I guarantee it. Guarantee is a dirty word in the investment world and you will rarely hear anyone say it. If you do, run don’t walk to the nearest exit. Nothing is guaranteed. You may find “teaser rates” that guarantee you a certain high return and then after the rate lock, drop like a rock. So carefully look at the full term of the investment and not just any attractive start rate.

Keep your wealth building strategy on track by avoiding investment advice like the above.  Have someone like a Wealth Coach review your personal financial plan once a year to make sure that you are on track to meet the financial goals that you set that have your risk tolerance and tax bracket factored in. Your ability to build wealth depends on it.

About the author

Fern Alix LaRocca CFP® EA


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  • what is your opinion of financial firms such as ameriprise as opposed to other types of investment professionals for an individual to get advise from.
    and if you could descibe the types of fees expected from each.

  • Thanks for catching that. I meant to say by “age alone”.

    There are many factors to go into understanding a person’s risk tolerance. Age is just one factor. Many Financial Advisors use some sort of questionnaire to determine the risk tolerance of an individual.

    Even then, I have seen way too many people sell large portions of their portfolio when the market went down. That is a true sign that the portfolio did not match their risk tolerance or they would have been able to stomach unrealized losses and understand that there will always be downward swings in the market.

    Fern Alix LaRocca CFP® EA

  • “Don’t let anyone judge what type of portfolio or risk tolerance you have by your age. Your risk tolerance should coincide with your financial goals not your age.”

    But the reality is risk tolerance also has nothing to do with financial goals. Risk tolerance has to do with an individuals personality and temperament.

    Just because they need a high rate of return to reach a certain financial goal does not mean the portfolio should take more risk if it is not in line with the investors true risk tolerance. Otherwise it is very likely they will ditch the plan early and put themselves in a much worse situation.

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