At no time in history have we had so much ability to learn whatever we want to know about almost anything. It can cost little cost but the time it takes to acquire it in usable form, assuming you have a computer and internet.
In personal finance, this is perhaps especially true. Since there are trillions of dollars involved, many avenues of information exist for us from articles and books to software programs from many sources. Why would anyone need to hire an adviser?
We attempt to do for our clients what they would do if they had the experience, interest, knowledge, technology and time to do it all themselves. If any one of those five resources is missing, they will probably be better off to hire someone to help them.
Considering this topic in general, think how much money is spent in sports on coaches. Andy Reid and 25 other coaches are listed on the Chiefs’ roster. There is even one strength-and-conditioning coach plus two assistants. The players make a lot of money. Don’t they know how to play football by now? Coaches help them be better.
As to interest, many folks admit they should be more interested in their financial well- being. They just are not. We are often not that much into medicine, but we know we need to pay attention to our health, so we use physicians. About 2017, I got extremely weary of trying to force myself to physically work out regularly. It just wasn’t going to happen. So now, I pay a nice young man to tell me what to do and watch me do it. I needed appointments and financial commitment to get into a healthy condition.
We have clients like – CPA’s, attorneys, doctors – who are very smart and capable of learning financial principles or investing. They are too busy working on what pays them and their hobbies, so they find it worth paying others for help and accountability. You know the proverb: The cobbler’s children are barefoot.
Is making the most return on investments at all times is the highest determinant of financial success? I don’t think so. Folks often have no idea how much risk they are taking to gain the most return in a rising market. We forget the inevitable next big drop is coming. What you keep through the drops is more important. The diligent tortoise usually wins the life marathon of investing over the hare.
The daily news is not much help. The market is at an all-time high! The Dow had its second largest point drop in history! That is nice information. Where does it fit? Is it important that the S&P 500 index is just a little lower than its high on Sept. 21 last year? Who provides context, perspective and wisdom for you?
Planning is also vital. Should we use 529 Plans or Educational Savings? Or both? If I become disabled, am I sunk? When should we begin Social Security payments? Should we buy long-term care insurance or do we have enough reserves to pay it out? Who nicely forces you to take time, think through these issues, and complete your decisions?
This afternoon, we will visit a couple in their home. He has perhaps a couple of months left before his death. He wants to make sure everything possible is arranged well for his wife. We will ask many questions and counsel them so their precise life wishes and goals will more likely be met.
Some people undoubtedly can do it all for themselves, but many more can’t or won’t. After all, money is just a tool to help us in life. But it is a high privilege to serve people trying to make the most of their own life stewardship.
(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations)
Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.