Have you ever heard the proverb about the cobbler’s children? It essentially states that the cobbler’s children, although surrounded by well-made shoes, have the most worn out shoes. Or that doctors are the worst patients? The same can be said for wealth advisors. We’re not immune to the common mistakes that exist in the financial world, and even we can benefit from the financial guidance we provide for others.
As a new advisor, I had an epiphany. Yes, an epiphany, as corny as that sounds. I realized that although I could adequately pick investments, decide on a savings plan and develop a strategy for myself, I wasn’t following through with it. While at a client meeting, my coworker explained it best by saying, “We help hold you accountable to your goals.” Duh! That was the thing I was not giving myself. I could make the best laid plan, but I wasn’t following through and doing the actions I needed to do to be successful. I had the knowledge, but needed accountability. The very next day I hired my first advisor.
In the early stages she helped me pinpoint short-, medium- and long-term goals. She helped me develop good saving and spending habits. She even sat with me as I increased my 401 (k) savings and paid off my credit card debt. Having that second pair of eyes, especially when I was single, was invaluable.
Fast forward a few years to when I was excited to bring my soon-to-be husband to our meetings. I knew accountability and being a sounding board was the value she brought to me, but what I did not realize was how she would benefit us as a couple. TOGETHER. I vividly remember getting into our car after the first meeting. He said, “I am really excited to work with her. I feel like she understands my goals and is going to help us.” She gave him a safe place to ask questions. She allowed him to have a voice, where I might otherwise have taken over. He would tell you that he appreciates having his goals reflected in the plan, and I appreciate having a third party ease any financial tensions that may arise.
Since having our two children, life is incredibly busy. Like a lot of families, we are two parents working full time, trying to juggle children’s activities, chores in the house and yard, and time that we want to play. There is a finite amount of time for any of us to research our options and vet our financial decisions. Some days, it’s not until 8:30 p.m. that we have a quiet moment together, and at that point, we’d rather zone out on a Netflix show than talk money. Even when I was pregnant with our second child and very motivated to “nest,” I still failed to find the time to start our children’s 529 plans. I’m happy to report that they’re started and funding monthly because our advisor did the heavy lifting of getting the applications ready to go.
In the times when my husband and I have reviewed the not-so-fun “what ifs” of our financial plan (What if I pass away prematurely? What if I can’t work because I’m ill? Who will take our children? What resources will be available to them?), we have talked about the fact that our advisor will be there. She is our “person” if anything unexpected happens to either one of us. There’s peace of mind knowing that in a stressful situation, we have a levelheaded partner to help make crucial decisions for all parts of life.
Recently we were at an impasse about whether to purchase a new truck. My husband, in all his wisdom, asked me, “What would Sue say?” I called her and laid out my story. He wants a new truck and I say we wait. Her response was immediate. “Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, Aimee? Or tell you the truth?” I paused, and then said, “The truth.” I was hesitant, of course, because I knew what she was going to say. “Buy the darn truck!”
Let’s be honest, money is emotional. And even as a trained professional, I can let those emotions get in the way of the best laid plan.
Goal setting. Accountability. Second opinion. Education. Continuity. Implementation. Trust.
These are the hallmarks of a Wealth Advisor and the ways we can help beyond just the investment choices. I have learned that every family takes away something different from their advisor relationship. I love being that “person” for our clients. Here at Merriman we want to help you invest wisely and live fully.