If you’ve ever visited an advisory office, you may have had the thought, “What does he think about my money situation?”
I know you probably feel this way. As a former advisor, I could see it on your face.
Some people just out-and-out asked the question, “How do I look compared to everyone else?”
It’s a fair question, but not really relevant. As I mentioned in last week’s rant, how much you save toward your own personal goal is the question, not how you stack up against your neighbor.
But still, you want to know what your advisor really thinks? …okay, I’ll tell you how the advisors I worked with felt about your financial situation.
Generally, we didn’t care.
To see it from an advisor’s perspective, consider what I saw every day. In the average week, my goal was to have 15 to 20 meetings with clients. On top of that, I tried to have at least 40 phone calls with clients, prospects, or other advisors who worked with my clients.
Unless you had a situation that was incredibly unique, I’d probably seen it before.
If you were behind, I’d seen further behind (I do remember one man who wanted to retire by the end of the year and had saved $40,000….if you can beat that I’d remember you, too).
If you had odd sources of income I’d seen more unique (like the couple who collected goat hair for a living).
If you spent your money in weird ways I’d seen weirder (the exotic dancer who had a massive marijuana budget probably beats your strangest expense).
If you had questions you thought were strange, I’ve been asked stranger ones. (I especially loved the people who told me they were worried about estate planning. We were excited because we thought that “estate planning” meant they had a massive estate. When we met it turned out that they had three shares of GM stock and four kids, so they didn’t know how to equally distribute the shares when they died.)
The point? Well, there are three:
1) Ask your advisor your weird questions.
2) Don’t be afraid of getting help if you’re behind on your goals. Advisors are supposed to help you catch up. That’s why you’d work with one.
3) Focus on your own goal, not everyone else. Your personal goals are what are going to get you to your end game, not how your neighbor’s doing.
…and just so you know, your neighbor’s probably screwed. If you’re saving what you should be, you’d be in the top 10% of all the people I met with.
Photo: National Assembly for Wales/Cynulliad Cymru
The exotic dancer client should be the focus of another post haha. Couldn’t agree more though. The lines of communication need to be open or else what’s the point?
It’s natural to want to compare yourself with how others are doing, but I agree with your point that it’s not really relevant in financial planning. The focus should be on where you are at and how best to achieve your goals. I can also understand why clients would be concerned with your opinion/reaction. After all, opening up your finances like that to a 3rd party is kind of personal and so validation of some sort can be desired. Did you ever encounter problems trying to convince clients to not dwell on the unimportant stuff?
Absolutely. I can’t tell me how often I’d have to use the phrase, “You’re so focused on that tree you’re missing the forest….” We’d have these talks about the government, inflation and the stock market, when the real truth was they couldn’t budget or had a horrible credit card habit….
Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies
I never really thought about it, but I think our financial advisor (a fee only guy I have access through my 401K plan) thinks we’re kindof odd, but in a good way. He actually told us he’ll brag about us if he can help us retire by 40. =)
But to our accountant, I’m sure we are such small fry with vanilla investments. He deals with so much crazy stuff and just does our taxes as a favor to some ridiculously rich friends.
Stay close to those ridiculously rich friends! A great accountant in your corner will become more important as things get more complex.
I agree with your financial advisor. I’ve met you and I also think you’re odd….in a good way! 😉
Is there profit in goat hair??
You’d be surprised. They had a six figure income collecting hair for wigs. Who knew.