If you’re looking to improve your financial situation — whether that means saving more now, investing more for the future, or gaining more flexibility along the way — you have a few choices.
You can do it yourself, navigating the complexities of investments and insurance on your own. You can ask a friend or family member (probably the one who has always been “good with money”). Or you can work with a trained financial professional you can rely on to provide specific advice for your unique situation.
The first two options will obviously cost less. Financial professionals charge for their time and advice. How much they charge depends on the type of professional you choose for your particular situation. (Related: 2 types of financial professionals)
But, like many things in life, what may seem a frugal step now could end up costing more in time and effort down the road. There’s strength in working with others, especially those whose training and experience is directly suitable to the task at hand.
Here’s some reasons why connecting with a financial professional can work out well. (Don't have one? Find one here)
Distilling the information overload
You don’t have to look far for financial information. Just turn on the TV or open your Internet browser. You’ll hear media pundits talk all about budgeting. You’ll see financial gurus evaluate buzz-worthy stocks. You’ll read in-depth blog posts about the pros and cons of life insurance.
Here’s the problem: There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for some may not work for others. So unless the advice is personalized to you, it’s just a lot of noise — and that noise can sometimes be deafening.
A financial professional can help you distill all of the information, block out any noise, and then provide guidance tailored to your finances, your family, and your goals. (Related: How to prepare for your first meeting with your financial professional)
Getting to know all about you
To help you design your financial roadmap, a financial professional will first get to know you. There are many factors to consider, from your age and health to your job and family life. From debts and taxes to savings and investments. From your goals and dreams to what’s keeping you up at night.
It all ties together. Only then can a financial professional help you develop a comprehensive, personalized strategy. After all, a good financial strategy considers everything.
Leveraging professional experience
Most people don’t have enough time in their day to do laundry, let alone do the due diligence needed for all their financial decisions.
That’s why using a professional can be so advantageous. A financial professional’s job is to keep up with the financial times, paying attention to market conditions and to changes in tax law.
Financial professionals frequently attend training courses and seminars. They learn all about changing state and federal regulatory laws. They stay up to date on all the latest products and offerings, which change just about every day. If a new opportunity arises, a good financial professional will know about it — and more importantly know if it can help you. (Related: 7 things financial planning does for you)
Taking the long view
Working with a financial professional is a long-term relationship founded on trust, understanding, and patience. Remember, building a nest egg takes time. (This long view is one reason why a steady investment strategy makes sense.) Knowing that you have a partner by your side every step of the way is a huge advantage.
Your professional is always looking for the financial solutions to fit your current situation — all while managing your risk. So when life changes, your professional is ready to help you make the right financial decisions to change with it.
On the flip side, advice you’ll find on the Internet tends to be reactionary and nearsighted. The latest trends rocket to the top of the feed, only to be quickly replaced by something else. Meanwhile, online and TV personalities typically have competing agendas, and sometimes that can simply be improving their ratings or selling their latest books.
So while every client relationship is different, you should anticipate working closely together — meeting at least once a year to re-evaluate goals and staying in touch via phone or email to ensure you’re staying on track.
You are not a financial professional (and that’s okay)
Chances are, you don’t have a degree in finance or economics. You probably don’t have any professional certifications or accreditations in financial services. The initials after your name are more likely to be “Jr.” or “III” than “CFP” or “CIIA.” And that’s okay.
Most people are not financial professionals or money professionals, of course. Yet those who are in that profession not only have the right qualifications and credentials, but they also have your financial goals in mind.
When you work with a financial professional, you’ll have an advocate in your corner, someone who understands your unique financial needs and family situation — and how to tailor a solution around both. That is a very good thing.
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