We are past the halfway mark in the first month of the year where goals are being envisioned. The year still feels shiny, new, full of promise and potential. It’s a good feeling too. I love this time of year. Many new clients come to me at this time wanting to establish workable plans to ensure a comfortable retirement and/or to make sure they have a viable college fund for their kids.
I love the excitement I see in their eyes and hear in their voices as new clients talk about what they want their futures to look like. This never gets old for me. Helping people envision and accomplish their financial goals is truly an amazing way to spend my days on this planet.
Everyone Needs A Map
If you are driving somewhere you’ve never been before, you would typically use a map to help you get there. We have Google Maps today and it’s less frightening than ever to venture into unknown territory with your smart phone and Siri directing you every inch of the way.
Desiring to reach a specific financial destination is no different. Yet, there isn’t a specific map or an app that’s going to help you traverse the distance or the ups and downs of the market to get you to your financial destination. Financial planning is a map for a distant journey, one that takes years, even decades to finally reach.
You Need An Expert Guide
In addition to a map, when you are preparing to journey into potentially life-threatening and dangerous territory, also select a guide. You want someone who has made the journey successfully to help you.
Think of your financial journey like climbing Mt. Everest. You wouldn’t do it alone. You wouldn’t do it without training physically, mentally and spiritually. You would attempt this journey without serious in-depth planning. And, you wouldn’t expect to accomplish your goal quickly.
While you may think I’m being overly dramatic in pegging your financial planning journey as dangerous or life-threatening, I assure you I am not. There are many smart, even brilliant people who have absolutely no financial sense. Getting into financial trouble can ruin lives, no matter how smart you are in other areas. I’ve seen doctors and lawyers, professors and people in every walk of life get into financial trouble because they thought they could “figure it out” on their own. It’s like climbing a mountain. And slight misstep can spell disaster.
Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
When looking for a guide to help you on your financial journey, let your conscience be your guide. Find someone whose values are in alignment with your own. This will be someone you will want to feel extremely comfortable with. They are going to know you better than just about anyone else. So choose wisely. Look for a fiduciary financial advisor. They abide by fiduciary duty which is the ethical obligation to act solely in their client’s best interest.
Ask to speak with some of the advisor’s long-term clients. Find out how they help clients negotiate recessions and market downturns. Next to your spouse, this person could become your closest confidante and very possible a close friend of the family.
Like a guide who will help you climb Everest, your financial advisor will establish short and long-term goals that will be in writing and will be measurable. My New Year’s wish for all is that you find the financial advisor who will set you on the most successful path to achieving your financial goals. May your journey together be productive and enriching.