THE BALANCING ACT
It’s no secret that dialing into a balanced life is no easy feat. Sometimes you are completely unaware of how upside down things are until someone points it out, or an event happens that forces the issue – such as missing a family obligation, or being on holiday and constantly checking work emails.
On the flip side, you might really love your job and find yourself working hard to succeed in it. But, if you are not setting boundaries and making the most of it outside of work, important aspects of your life will start to slip – family and health.
Luckily, when it comes to family, most of us have been able to strike a nice chord with a little extra communication and effort (i.e. putting the damn phone down, ensuring we are 100% mentally present). Health-wise, being drenched in sweat desperately trying to open a tightly sealed bag of cheez-doodles, like a roofer on a hot summer day, is no longer being tolerated (as much). We (sometimes I) are making more health conscious food choices.
Between work, family and personal obligations consuming every minute of every day, when does anyone find the time to focus on personal finances? Long ago, I made the decision to go speak with a financial advisor. As much as I consider myself financially competent, there comes a point where my pride needed to be set aside and seek help managing my own finances. While I’d love to say the decision to go with a financial advisor was a simple one, like with many personal finance questions, the answer is – it depends.
Personalized Guidance. I’ll admit, other than what Warren Buffett says about low-cost index funds and holding investments long-term, I am completely clueless about how and when to invest. My financial advisor has years of training, access to financial tools and experience working with a diverse population of clients and situations. Because of this broad spectrum of knowledge, he is able to tailor products and strategies that achieve my current and future goals.
Education. No strategy is ever executed until my advisor feels I have a complete understanding of each and every moving piece before walking out the door, including the commission he will receive from the executing broker. Two points here. One he is of the opinion, that gaps and opportunities in my financial plan are just as easily identifiable by myself, being more-informed, as they would be in the office with him. In essence, we both benefit from the knowledge transfer and openness to share. Secondly, there hasn’t been one fee or commission that wasn’t a fair price for the time spent or strategy setup. Every goal set, to date, has been achieved.
Holistic Approach. Financial products and services become more intricate everyday and can be overwhelming if you don’t live and breathe it. With a full understanding of my history and goals, he is able to see the bigger picture and integrate individual strategies for exponential growth, while I go about my life as I desire. Setting up the right short & long-term investment strategy, adequate insurance policies, avoiding unnecessary taxes, having the correct beneficiary on all accounts, living and last will documents; the list goes on and on. I am good with financial basics and then some, but that doesn’t mean I am able to think of everything I need to be.
Peace of Mind. It gives me a great joy to focus on what matters most to me in life. Worrying about making costly mistakes due market fluctuations or ever-changing life circumstances, is not one of them. My financial advisor is just far enough removed to remain impartial when my emotions run high during volatile times. This build-in immunity is essential for my financial health, as first hand experience has proven that I can be quite poisonous.
Having a financial advisor, is quite possibly, one of the most important relationships you will ever have. Of course, it goes without saying, understanding the compensation structure of a financial advisor is critical. It can point to potential conflicts of interest in terms of the advice they provide to you. However, it would be remiss of me not to say that advisor fees, alone, should not be the determining factor.
One must consider the real value in asking for an advisor’s expertise involved in your entire financial picture, looking at investments, tax planning, debt management, cash flow, insurance, college planning, estate planning and more. If your financial goals are being met, is the incremental cost ever going to out weigh the worry-free time you gain with your family, friends and passions…?
Do you have a financial advisor? Why or why not?