Today is Halloween as I put these thoughts to paper. Tonight, I’ll take my wife and daughter around the neighborhood to scare the candy out of the neighbors. My costume will be easy; I am FrankenPlanner. That’s right, financial planners can scare people who are considering acquiring fiduciary support. Especially those who have yet to confront the fears listed below:
The Fear of Change
When you meet with a financial planner for the first time you can be certain they are looking to improve your situation. That means they will tell you what needs to change about your money. To accept that advice requires a humility in admitting past mistakes and resilience in moving out of a familiar comfortable place. But within the pain of change is the hope of improvement. Perhaps Rachel Naomi Remen said it best: “In our instinctive attachments, our fear of change, and our wish for certainty and permanence, we may undercut the impermanence which is our greatest strength, our most fundamental identity. Without impermanence, there is no process. The nature of life is change. All hope is based on process.”
The Fear of Disclosure
The Fear of Regret
Have you ever had buyer’s remorse? You drive that new car into your garage and the thrill is slowly dissipating. The sun sets and the next morning you wonder if you really needed a canary yellow Corvette. Let’s say that you make the change and take the recommendations of your new financial planner. Something you need to ask is how easy can these changes be undone. It’s a fair question. Too many so-called planners place their clients in proprietary programs that nearly require an act of Congress to exit. Bring the question up. Let them know that you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon.
The Fear of Being Sold
Everywhere you turn somebody is trying to sell you something:
Billboards and morning radio on your way to work. Pop-up banners on your favorite news site.
Videos on your Facebook news feed. Chicken dinner financial seminars.
If it’s free, it’s because your attention is what’s being sold. Ultimately, you’d like to meet with someone who has your best interests. And when a conflict of interest arises, you should want it disclosed. Everybody likes to shop, but nobody wants to be sold. If you ever get that feeling, speak up.
The last two decades have been a time of unprecedented economic volatility. From the attacks of September 11 to the Great Recession of 2008, can anyone blame you for being a deer in the economic headlights? Perhaps this is where a financial planner provides the most solace. Your economic fears are important and need to be addressed. This is best done when you have a third party who can separate the emotion from the dollar signs. A fiduciary financial planner may be just what you need to see the economic facts around you and the economic emotions within you.
The Fear of Referrals
When you drop your date off at the door, there’s this awkward moment of how to say goodbye. Do you shake hands, hug it out or go for the kiss? Trust me, your date is dreading this too. Well, eventually your planner will ask if there are friends and family that could use his/her services. This means that you are opening up your sacred circle of influence to the same disruption. You may be head over heels in love with your planner. It’s still awkward, because you know meeting with a new advisor creates all the fears for your referrals, too.
Which of these fears is holding you back from fully engaging with your financial planner? If we can recognize these fears we can address them. If we can address them, we may be able to get out of our own way. If you’d like to discuss these topics and others, let us know here.