Watching the inspiring stories of this past summer's Olympic athletes reminded me of the sacrifices and the countless hours of training required to qualify for the world’s foremost sporting competition. In addition to being dedicated to a training regime, these athletes have trusted coaches who have supported them and pushed them to achieve their highest level of performance, allowing their Olympic dreams to come true.
The same holds true for your financial dreams—you shouldn’t go it alone. Here are four ways a top financial advisor can ensure you get the gold medal future you desire. (For related reading, see: How to Combat the lure of 'Free' Financial Advice.)
Focus on Why You're Making the Sacrifice
A top coach will help keep you disciplined and focused on the long run. Think of a marathon—you don’t quit the race when you trip on an unexpected pothole in the road; you recover from your misstep and keep running. When there’s market volatility, a top financial advisor will keep you focused and not let you get distracted by obstacles you encounter along the way. The best coaches understand that managing an athlete’s behavior is just as important as managing their athletic development. The same is true for a top financial advisor. Having someone who really knows and understands your hopes, fears and concerns and who can talk you through them can be an important factor in achieving your dreams.
Take a Holistic Approach
A top coach understands that for an athlete to attain peak performance, they have to pay attention to every aspect of their body and acknowledge that everything they do affects their performance. Michael Phelps not only swims 80,000 meters a week, but his training regime also includes weights and flexibility training, regular massages and cupping (who knew?). But it doesn’t stop there. His 12,000-calorie a day diet and mental preparations have really paid off—with 28 medals! Much in the same way, a true financial advisor will look at your entire financial picture, including investments, tax planning, debt management, cash flow, insurance, college costs, estate planning and more.
All these elements are important to your financial life and should work together. You can’t just focus on investment results, ignore their tax implications, and expect to have the returns you desire. A top financial advisor can help you with every facet of your financial life and bring to light some implications you may not be aware of. (For related reading, see: Why the Need for Human Advisors Will Never Die.)
Make Sure You Hire the Right Coach
In sports, this is a no-brainer. A gymnast isn’t going to hire a pole vaulting coach to become a better gymnast. The advisor who sold you your disability insurance when you were in your 20s or 30s may not be the right person to guide you as you contemplate the purchase or sale of a business, how to make the most of your stock options, or determine whether or not you can or should retire early. Your financial advisor needs to have the education and experience to help you as your financial circumstances become more complex. It’s okay to move on when you’ve outgrown your advisor’s skill set.
Invest in Your Future
Make it a priority. Olympic competitors didn’t get there by watching a free online training video. They have invested both time and money into their training. Don’t expect to get the same results from a financial planning app that you would from a top financial advisor. You can go it alone, but managing your own finances can become quite complex. Most of us don’t have time to keep up with the nuances of new market products, regular account rebalancing, and ever-changing tax laws and regulations. Your financial advisor will be there to keep your finances up to date with the latest changes in the marketplace.
After conducting a study of 200 people to determine why they didn’t hire financial advisors, Ric Edelman of Edelman Financial Services concluded that people didn’t believe what he said his firm could do for them. But after he announced the results on his radio show, his listeners said that wasn’t really the reason. People just didn’t want to pay the fee because the only value they saw in financial advisory services was the change in their investment account balance. They didn’t think about the money they might save as a result of professional advice on other issues—advice that can have as much or more of an impact on a client’s overall wealth as the return that is generated on their investments.
Even the best athletes in the world have someone helping them run faster, jump higher, and become stronger. Do the same for your finances. (For related reading, see: 6 Steps to Selecting a Great Financial Advisor.)