Much of my time is spent meeting with prospective clients. Many of my prospective clients are young couples or families who have not yet had the experience of working with a financial adviser. One of their common questions is: “Is this the right time to hire a financial planner?”
My reply? There is no perfect time. There is no level of income or assets that suddenly justifies your decision. For families with significant wealth, there comes a point where their financial lives are so complex that it becomes easier to just outsource or share the financial decision-making. But for everyone else, where is the line? Here are some things to consider. (For related reading, see: What Type of Person Needs a Financial Advisor?)
Be Mentally Prepared
If your goal is to get physically fit, do you hire a personal trainer without thinking it through? Probably not. You need to mentally prepare yourself, knowing that it will take hard work, willpower and dedication. You cannot expect overnight transformation. You must show up—day after day, week after week—to achieve your fitness goals. The same is true for financial fitness. Working with a financial planner will take time and effort from you. Expect to meet more frequently in the beginning of the relationship to assess financial history, goals, and values. The effort is well worth it, though. Within a few months, you’ll have a solid financial plan and guidepost for future decisions.
Examine the Risks of Inaction
Let’s suppose you need to make a decision today on whether or not to hire a financial advisor. You decide to do nothing, thinking you can handle it on your own. Now let’s imagine you are one year in the future. Looking back on the decision, are you happy? Did you make any strides in achieving your financial goals, or are you in the same place? Worse yet, maybe you didn’t even have the time and discipline to set goals.
Goal-setting is an arduous but necessary process. Be true to yourself. Honestly assess whether you will establish and monitor goals on an ongoing basis.
I’ve been following Michael Hyatt for a few years and know his company releases the “Best Year Ever” program each December. In 2014, I watched Michael’s free videos on goal-setting but didn’t pull the trigger to enroll in the Best Year Ever course. 2015 was different. My husband Bryan and I welcomed our third son into the world, and life felt even more chaotic than usual. I was mentally and physically exhausted. In December 2015, setting 2016 goals was a struggle. Purchasing the VIP version of the course—with monthly videos and coaching—was a no-brainer. Although 2016 has been a whirlwind personally, this formal goal setting program has been so helpful! (For related reading, see: 5 Questions to Ask Your Potential Advisor.)
Are you great at goal-setting but lack follow-through? Consider an accountability partner—someone to push you when the going gets tough. Accountability partners come in many shapes and sizes. Maybe it's a running buddy for your marathon goal. Or your spouse when you want to change your diet.
Oftentimes, it can be hard to find an accountability partner for finances since money is so taboo. Friends often don’t want to share financial secrets, and finances can be a source of tension in marriage. Again, be honest with yourself and decide whether you have a true accountability partner to meet those financial goals. Having an independent financial advisor may be your saving grace! A neutral third party could provide the perspective and judgment you need. (For related reading, see: Top 8 Ways to Stick to Your Budget.)
Consider the Financial Commitment
Hiring a Financial Planner = Investment in Yourself and Your Future
Are you willing and able to make the financial commitment to achieve your goals? While most financial planners would love to help anyone needing assistance, there are simply not enough hours in the day to guide everyone. Affordable, quality guidance is reserved for people who value and are willing to pay for the service we provide.
I am a member of XY Planning Network, a group of over 300 fee-only financial planners nationally who believe financial guidance should be accessible to anyone—regardless of age or assets. In fact, many advisors within the network use a monthly subscription model that is drastically different from the industry norm. We are providing year-round value but typically charge an up-front, one-time planning fee and ongoing monthly fee (just like you’d pay for a gym membership). This pricing model is intentional. Advisors outside the network usually have a minimum level of assets to manage or minimum annual fee, and the fee is paid quarterly.
This article certainly isn’t intended as a sales pitch. Rather, I sincerely hope it helps you determine whether you are ready or not to engage a financial planner. Weigh the pros and cons. If you decide to hire a financial planner, please consider a CFP professional. (For related reading, see: How to Achieve Financial Success in Your Marriage.)