Over the past two decades, I’ve been helping people manage their money. Sometimes, the economy has been friendly. Sometimes, it’s been harsh. Sometimes, it’s been downright 2008.
I’ve come to believe the value a financial planner must bring has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with a wealth of experience that comes from weathering the seasons of crisis alongside hundreds and hundreds of clients.
Before we get into that, let’s look at the top three worst reasons to hire a financial planner:
3. To get rich without time and effort.
There’s a difference between the financial growth that planners pursue and what we hear about from television or the gurus on YouTube. We call that difference reality. Planners don’t make people rich overnight. Growth takes work and time. Work demands sacrifice and time demands, well, time.
Get rich quick schemes, and foolproof investments that promise crazy returns are being marketed from every channel. And that constant message has convinced people that if they aren’t getting rich instantly with little or no sacrifice, they are failing. Building wealth is a life-long pursuit that involves long endurance. And, the truth is that it is actually better that way. If you want proof, read some of the stories about how many lottery winners end up bankrupt. The old adage of easy come, easy go is correct.
2. To control the uncontrollable
Financial planners can help steer the ship, but no human can control the ocean. There are so many factors at play in the market. While we design portfolios to minimize risk, the future does not yet exist. There will be times when our clients lose money alongside the rest of the economy, and we help them lose as little as possible, while keeping our focus on aiming the ship in the right direction. When people want endless progress, a world without setbacks or pain, they don’t want a financial planner. They want a genie in a bottle or a fairy godmother.
1. To tell them what they want to hear.
I’ve seen financial planners tell people to keep spending outside their means, even when the opulent houses and trophy cars are steering them toward disaster. These planners shield their clients from the truth that a better tomorrow requires some sacrifice and self-denial today. They run projections with unrealistic assumptions that give their clients a false sense of security. They contort reality as long as the checks from their deluded clients keep coming. You’d be amazed how many people hire financial planners to blow sunshine on an imminent disaster.
So What Good are Financial Planners?
The real value of a financial advisor is rooted in an abundance of experience that reveals time-honored truth.
Here’s what I mean. Everyone comes to thresholds in life, moments when reality stares us in the face. We have to decide how to pay for our children’s college, we have to pay for weddings, we retire and have to live without a paycheck, or serious illness strikes. When these big pages in your life turn, it will be the first time you have faced it. It might be our six-hundred and eighty-third. While you feel the weight of emotions and uncertainty, we feel the confidence that comes from returning to these thresholds day after day, for decades.
Since we’ve had the honor of walking beside hundreds of clients, we know what they would say to you. They’d say that despite everything our culture suggests, slow is good. They’d say to connect to what matters: your spouse, yourself, your children.
This kind of perspective only comes from experience. It replaces baseless fear with grounded confidence. It replaces jittery distraction with clear awareness.
And that’s why we’re writing this blog: to share the perspective that over a thousand clients have given us. To give people the guidance and the confidence to do what they’ve always wanted to do, without leaving a trail of missteps and regret. To lean toward beauty and shared experience. To live the rich life.
We’ll begin by discussing rooted confidence in the age of anxiety. Stay tuned.
James Lenhoff is the president of Wealthquest, a Cincinnati-based financial planning and wealth management firm that offers a full range of financial services under one roof, for one simple fee.