“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”*
When it comes to your financial picture and long-term goals, do you find yourself wondering as Alice did in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”?
If you are like most people, you probably have a number of financial goals but no real plan to achieve them. What should you do when your objectives compete? Where do you turn for answers? Perhaps you’ve turned to friends, the internet, or popular voices in finance for answers, but you’re still not sure you’re on the right path.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner can help you connect your investments to what is most important to you and in the end, can help you make better financial decisions. Here’s how:
Your Financial Advisor Should Ask the Right Questions
Money is an emotional topic and talking or even thinking about it can be hard. Very hard.
In order for your financial advisor to help you make informed decisions with your money, you will need to share important personal information about yourself and your family. This conversation also requires a transparent assessment of your current financial situation. Moving beyond your assets and liabilities, your advisor should clarify what it is that you want to accomplish both personally and professionally as well as who and what is important to you, what you would like to accomplish as well as when you would like to accomplish it.
Modern financial planning is a continuous and evolving process; it isn’t about one-off transactions or products as it might’ve once been or is sometimes perceived to be but is about a relationship with a professional advisor that will help you get from where you are to where you would like to be.
Your Financial Advisor Should Customize a Plan that’s Uniquely Yours
After the gathering information stage, your financial advisor should have a clearer picture of your unique situation and work with a team of experienced and trusted professionals such as CPAs and attorneys to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses your objectives.
In this way, your financial advisor works like an architect to design a financial home that suits your current needs as well as your plans for future self.
But it takes a clear understanding of investment options as well as an understanding of each clients’ individual financial situation before jumping into the investment deep end. One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to investing.
Like a scientist, your financial advisor will put the “things” under a microscope and analyze each factor critically before developing a plan to move forward. Just because something looks good on paper or is recommended by a popular finance blog doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
Your financial advisor knows this and will spend time experimenting with potential combinations before delivering a cohesive financial recommendation for your future.
Before you decide to implement any part of an investment plan, you want to find an advisor whose set of investment beliefs, methods, philosophies, and thoughts on markets resonates with you.
Your Financial Advisor Should Offer Ongoing Advice and Recommendations
Once your advisor has a designed a personalized financial plan for you, it’s time to get to work.
After all, your financial advisor is there to do just that: advise.
From an early age, we are taught that the quickest way to get from point A (where you are today) to point B (where you want to be in the future) is a straight line. In some sense, your initial plan shares the element of a straight line. However, life, like the markets, rarely moves in a linear fashion. This means that at some point your initial plan will need to be changed and you should both know and be OK with that. We won’t know the cause – the who, what, when, where, or how – but as Heraclitus once said: “change is the only constant”.
What you should have with your financial advisor by now is a relationship. Relationships take time to build and are built on trust. Like any relationship, they are built on honest, regular communication and from time to time, a little work.
How does your financial advisor check out? Does he or she understand your goals and lifestyle, analyze the components critically and offer a custom financial plan for your future?
If not, don’t you deserve a financial advisor who can do these things for you? After all, it’s your money and your financial goals on the line.
Start setting your long term goals with the advice of Certified Financial Planner, Jacob Sturgill
*Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898. (2000). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Peterborough, Ont. :Broadview Press