“If something’s hard to do, then what’s the point?!”
I try to make my fair share of networking events so that I can foster my weak connections. Most of the people I wind up meeting are mid-level executives, HR directors, project managers, account managers, and the like. I’m usually the oddball in the crowd (not just because of my ability to tell poor jokes and make bad puns), as I’m often the only financial planner at the networking event (apparently, Fort Worth financial advisors don’t like to leave their offices very often).
We will do the usual grip-and-grin and, since it’s a networking event, the conversation usually quickly turns to what we do professionally. I try to ask first so that I can identify what problems and pain points they have – they’re at a networking event for a reason – but eventually they ask me what I do. I tell them that I’m a Fort Worth financial planner, and then I discover the Jungian joke stream that has apparently been around for centuries, as I hear nearly the same thing. Every. Single. Time.
“I’ll get a financial planner when I have money.” <nervous chuckle>
I want to grab them by the coat sleeves and shake them.
“YOU’RE MIDDLE AGED AND IN MIDDLE MANAGEMENT. YOU’VE HAD TWENTY YEARS OF MAKING MONEY AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE ANY! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT WITHOUT AN INTERVENTION?!?”
But, I don’t.
I’m a sensitive New Age guy (SNAG™), and that’s not what SNAG™s do.
Yet, if you look a little deeper, it’s quite easy to see how having the attitude that you’ll pay for a financial planner when you have money is fallacious.
Why if you think you’ll pay for a financial planner when you have money, you’ll never have money
Seems circular, doesn’t it?
It’s like the old saw that you need money to make money, which, by the way, in almost all cases, is true.
There are two fallacies in that thinking.
You don’t have enough money to afford a financial planner.
Tons of people use strip mall investment advisory firms who will “manage their money” for them. They pay 1% of assets under management every year, or they pay crazy front load fees for the pleasure of having someone underperform the market on their behalf.
Better than nothing, right?
Why do people go along with these exorbitantly expensive schemes?
Because they don’t have to write a check.
Let’s say that you have $500,000 in investable assets.
Would you write a check for $416.67 to your “advisor” every single month? That’s almost enough to fund an IRA each year. It would pay for a nice vacation every year. And it doesn’t count the almost inevitable underperformance that your portfolio will have compared to the markets.
Are you getting that type of value?
Plus, you’re not getting much actual financial planning. As we saw in “Financial Planning Isn’t Just About Investment Management,” investing is only 20% of the picture. There’s another 80% that you need to get through first before you can even address investing. Yet, that’s all these strip mall advisory firms focus on – getting your money so that they can “invest” it for you.
As if you’re too dumb to be given a little guidance and do it yourself.
But, the real issue is that the feeling of not having enough money to afford a financial planner is a matter of perception.
As we saw in “How Much Should a Financial Planner Cost?” for 80% of the people who use one, a planner should cost between $1,800 and $2,400.
Unless you’re in consumer debt, you can pull together $2,000 to get your financial life in order.
A good planner will make that money back for you in a short timeframe, and not because he’s going to recommend the next hot stock, either.
But, it also depends on overcoming the second fallacy that people fall for in thinking that they’ll get a financial advisor when they have money:
Something magical will happen to cause things to change.
As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is going the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I’ve been there. As I described in the article “Don’t Wait Until the End of the Month to Save,” we saved and invested whatever was left over at the end of the month. We knew we weren’t saving what we could.
Yet, we kept doing the same thing for years and years.
I read and read and read until I could read no more.
But, I never changed my situation.
We had the same mentality back then. While we were making good money and saving a reasonable amount and knocking out the grad school debt, we still thought “we’ll get a planner when we have real money.”
Meanwhile, we kept plodding along, not making nearly as much progress as we could.
A good financial planner will help you change your behaviors.
Something’s got to change, right? If you’re not happy with where you are, you have to do something different.
Sometimes we can do it ourselves.
Sometimes, we need someone else’s help.
Yes, we eventually got there and figured things out AND changed our behaviors.
In the intervening years, our poor decisions probably cost us tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re not the only ones, either. Gen Xers who work with financial planners have twice as much set aside for retirement as those who don’t.
All for the want of spending a couple of thousand dollars to get someone to create a plan and help point out the obvious things that we simply weren’t seeing or we were just ignoring.
I’d love to have a time machine to go forward 10 years in time to see if anyone who tells me now that they’ll get a financial planner when they have money would tell the future me the exact same line.
Who am I kidding? I’d use a time machine for MUCH cooler things! Still, I’m curious how many of them will change.
I doubt it’s many.
Are you in that position? Are you going to do something? You could sign up for myFinancialAnswers and get the answers to the questions that you’re looking to get answered.
But, of course, you are free to choose. Just don’t use the same line on me in 10 years.