Blogs > Your Money

Dave Patterson and Erin Preston, a father-daughter team of Certified Financial Planner® licensees, provide thoughts and suggestions on a broad collection of personal finance topics.  Information provided in this BLOG is intended to be of a general nature and may not be appropriate for all situations.  Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before relying on any information contained herein.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting Over the Financial Advisor Hurdles

In our last post, The Biggest Money Mistake You Can Make, we discussed the fact that many people spend most of their productive time earning money and little to none of their time on managing the money they have. We suggested that they either learn how to manage their money themselves or seek out professional advice. (The article can be viewed on our website. The way we look at it is this: Just because you are skilled in your profession and make a good living does not mean that you are expected to be an expert in managing your money. That’s like saying that you should be able to be cure yourself of disease because you know your own body best. After all, money management was never a mandatory class we had to take in high school, was it?

Unfortunately, many individuals are reluctant to seek professional advice for a variety of reasons. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common reasons and how you might get over each hurdle:

Overcoming Emotions: Some people are ashamed of the state of their financial affairs or feel guilty about letting their finances deteriorate. They are embarrassed to share the details of their situation with a financial advisor. If you are in that position, you need to understand that financial advisors are in the business to help people resolve their financial problems. They don’t expect people to be perfect or to know everything about managing money. The majority of planners we know have a true desire to help people with their money problems and would never belittle or embarrass anyone about their financial situation.

Worry about Cost: Many people are concerned about how much it might cost to seek professional help. Costs vary significantly. This is an area you need to pay special attention to. Some advisors “charge nothing” for financial advice. Beware of this type of arrangement. These advisors make their money on other fees or commissions and may or may not be qualified to give comprehensive financial advice. Others charge fixed fees or hourly fees. Whatever the fee arrangement, make sure it is clearly defined and get it in writing.

Let’s suppose an advisor wants $ 2,500 for a comprehensive plan. Are the financial savings likely to justify such a fee? Often a good advisor can significantly reduce taxes or expenses on one’s portfolio. Even a small reduction in taxes and expenses can result in thousands of dollars in just a few years. A review of your insurance policies can also be a potential way to save money. Advisors often help clients reduce their tax liabilities. And, don’t ignore the fact that any cost savings you realize can attribute substantially to your peace of mind as you plan for your financial future. These are only a few ways a comprehensive financial plan can reap significant benefits.

Procrastination: Some people just keep putting things off. If you are one of them, remember that each day you wait can be costing you significant savings in taxes, investment expenses, better investment returns as well as a number of other possible savings. A portfolio invested in holdings that carry high management fees can be costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and you may not even realize it. Aristotle once said: “Well begun is half done.” The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start to reap the benefits.

Fear of Getting Bad Advice: Some of you are perhaps worried about getting bad advice, being taken advantage of or just don’t know where to look to find a financial advisor. To start with, seek out a Certified Financial Planner® licensee. The Financial Planning Association website has a “Planner Search” function that can help you identify planners in your area. You can also visit the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website for information on how to choose a planner. Both sites include interview questions you can ask as you search for a qualified planner. We recommend that you interview several planners before making a selection. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Keep in mind also, some of the other benefits of seeking help. A financial advisor can help you take control of your financial affairs and give you a feeling of empowerment. They can help you clarify your goals and give you a detailed plan to accomplish them. Hopefully, the information above will help those of you who need some financial advice get over the hurdles that are currently getting in your way.


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