Getting Over ItSubmitted by Financial Advisors in Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL | CFO on December 1st, 2017
Authored by Scott G. Russell
Getting Over It
I was having dinner with an old friend and his family that I was visiting recently in Johnson City, TN (really neat place by the way if you haven't been recently) and we ran into some friends of theirs that ended up joining us for dinner. They were a great couple and the wife was the type of person that will tell you exactly how she feels, which I love and makes for a much more interesting evening. That said, I need to be careful what I wish for!
When I relayed to her that my profession was financial planning her response was something to the effect that she does not trust financial advisors and their only goal is to separate her from her money. Great way to start off an evening, right! Believe me, it's nothing I haven't heard before. I don't know why but for some reason it really bothered me this time and it stuck with me for a couple of days.
I knew I had to just 'get over it'. I finally stopped feeling defensive and thought to myself, I get it…I get it. There are many examples of financial professionals that betrayed the trust of those they served. When people in positions of trust are unethical it is way more impactful than when it happens in other occupations. To be honest, when I first became a financial planner there were times I was embarrassed to say what I did for a living because of it. The ironic thing is though, knowing how vulnerable my wife and I felt during our own unique financial planning process, it is the main reason I changed my career from serving corporate stockholders to serving families directly.
What I fear is that this is another of many reasons for families to put off planning for their financial future. Unfortunately, avoiding the feeling of being vulnerable won't matter when it comes to retiring successfully or putting our kids through college. So what can families do to find the right person to work with regarding their financial planning?
- Look for transparency in exactly how a financial professional is compensated and that their recommendations are not influenced by any affiliations. Transparency isn't the be-all end-all of ways to weed out the bad guys, but it puts everybody on an even playing field of information.
- Make sure they offer a broad spectrum of available solutions to meet your needs. That is, if they are limited in what they are able to offer their recommendation might not be the option that's best for you. When they eventually make their recommendations, ask why they chose the solution they recommended over another.
- Look for someone that has earned credentials and ask what they do to continually hone their skills. Credentials would be things over and above the minimum bar of licenses that they would need just to be in the business. For example, having a Masters degree in Financial Planning, or being a CFP® or CPA is a great place to start. Just as importantly, ask what they do on an ongoing basis to stay educated.
- If you're the kind of person (like my wife) whose 'gut' usually steers you in the right direction, then use it when choosing a financial planner. Asking friends for referrals might start you down the right path. That said, always do a 'gut check' by reviewing their history on sites like www.adviserinfo.sec.gov and www.brokercheck.finra.org.
I realize taking advice from a financial planner about how to find a financial professional you can trust might seem odd. But it doesn't change the fact that we all either need to have that rare (some might say mythical) capacity to manage every aspect of our lives to perfection or we need to 'get over it' and find someone we can trust to add clarity to our financial lives.