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It’s Gonna Cost You One Way or Another

Back around 2009-10, I came across a quote from Ben Feldman, one of the most prolific salespeople in world history, who said:

"Doing something costs something. Doing nothing costs something. And, quite often, doing nothing costs a lot more!"  

I'm frequently reminded of this quote when I hear people debating whether they should work with a professional or take a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to their money.

I’ll admit that when done properly and professionally, a real financial plan takes time and brain power, so there is a cost.

However, I assert that no advice, unprofessional advice or bad advice, can be a lot more costly.

Sometimes, the cost is lost financial opportunity.  Other times, the cost is time.  It’s amazing how often people sacrifice incredible amounts of time just to save a little money.

Over the years, I’ve seen the patchwork of what many prospective clients think is a complete plan.  Typically, I find the following:

  • Inappropriate investments, poor diversification and/or too much investment risk
  • Inadequate insurance protection—life, disability, home, auto, personal liability and others
  • An outdated or no estate plan, including wills, trusts and beneficiary designations
  • Limited awareness of actual spending and cash flow

(To learn more about the benefits of professional advice, check out Tangible Proof of the Monetary Value of Professional Financial Planning Advice.

So, let’s assume you’re ready to hire an experienced and knowledgeable Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professional, what should you do?

First, determine the kind of advice you think you’re looking for (e.g., retirement, college, taxes, investment, insurance).  Then, go to the Financial Planning Association’s Planner Search to conduct your initial search.  Planner Search offers some general and advanced search features.

Next, develop a short list of planners you’d like to contact.

Finding a CFP® professional that's right for you begins with asking the right questions.  You want to know some basics, such as:

  • His or her area(s) of expertise—not all planners specialize in the same type of work.
  • The type(s) of client(s) that he or she work with best.
  • How the person gets paid—compensation may be hourly or project based, a percentage of assets, commissions, retainers or some combination of each.

To help you with screening potential planners, download the Financial Planning Association’s Choosing A CFP® Professional – Questions to Ask.  It’s an excellent guide with questions and plenty of space to write responses.

While some planners offer modular advice, I’m a strong believer in comprehensive or holistic advice.

The primary reason: You may not know to ask questions about the area where you’re the most financially vulnerable.

Frequently, people come to me with questions about whether they’re on track for retirement or with questions about their investments.

However, they also comment and express appreciation that our work together has made them aware of various estate or insurance issues and the blind spots they didn’t know they had.

Again, I highly recommend you find a financial professional who can look at all aspects of your financial life and advise you accordingly

Lastly, listen to you gut when interviewing planners.  If you don't get a good feeling, I encourage you to keep looking.  Chemistry is important.  If it’s not there, don’t waste your time.

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