With all the uncertainty in the economy, you might be asking yourself if you need a financial advisor.
I’m a financial advisor so I make my living when people ask this question and decide that they do. But even so, I can tell you that not everyone needs an advisor.
Here are some ideas to help you decide if you really need one if you’re thinking about it:
1. Do you expect a “religious experience”?
I’m talking about miracles of course.
Sure your investments have been hammered. So has everyone else’s.
Don’t expect an (honest) advisor to make a killing in this market. There aren’t many people who are knocking the ball out of the park these days – professional or otherwise.
But when it comes to investment performance, it’s tricky.
If you consistently do much worse than the market, that’s a sure sign that you need help.
If you are unhappy with your performance but it is inline with the market, don’t expect miracles. You might benefit by working with an advisor if you are amenable to changing your asset allocation. That change could result in you getting returns that are more in line with your risk appetite.
But if you aren’t willing to accept lower returns in exchange for less risk, don’t waste your time or money. Financial advisors are only human, they’re not miracle workers.
2. Buying life insurance
You don’t need a financial advisor if you know you need life insurance. Just figure out how much you need and buy the best term life insurance cheap. Done.
Now, if you have people who depend on you and you think you don’t need life insurance, or you refuse to find out how much life insurance you really need, then you need to see an advisor. What you need in this case is an overall plan and to see how life insurance fits in with that plan.
3. Creating a living trust
If you need a living trust, don’t go to an advisor. Go see an attorney to set up your living trust.
Like life insurance, if you don’t know if you need a living trust, you should see an advisor you trust rather than attorney. This way, you’ll get objective advice. Of course, the end result will be the same in most cases (you need a living trust) but you’ll feel better if you are told this by someone who has nothing to gain by telling you so.
4. Creating budget
An advisor can help you set up a budget. They can help you get the proper software and help you start using it. If your budget is your main concern, you should probably meet with a qualified advisor for a few hours, but that’s all you’ll need.
But you have to be honest with yourself. If you aren’t willing to do the work, don’t waste your time with an advisor. A budget isn’t a hard thing to implement. Once you set it up properly, it will take you a few hours a week to keep up-to-date.
People who fail to keep their budgets up to date do so mainly because they don’t want to see the truth. They prefer to stick their heads in the sand. Limited time isn’t a good excuse because it doesn’t take all that much time.
So see an advisor if you need help setting up your budget and are committed to doing the work.
5. Formulating a retirement plan
Having a retirement plan can make all the difference in achieving your goals and having financial peace of mind.
You don’t need a financial advisor to create a plan. There are plenty of programs online that allow you to do this for yourself.
However, a seasoned professional can add a ton of value in this regard. He or she can point out areas, issues and concerns you may not have anticipated. He or she may have helped hundreds of people create and implement a retirement plan. You may have never done it before. Once you have a plan, you’ll be better able to make the best investments for your retirement.
If you do want an advisor to create a plan for you, it should take her no more than 3 or 4 hours unless your situation is very complicated.
But if you’re not going to implement the tactics suggested by the plan, again, don’t bother.
6. Dealing with credit and debt problems
I get asked to help people solve their credit and debt problems all the time. So do lots of other financial planners. But that’s not our specialty. Financial advisors can help generally but if you are looking for ways to improve your credit score or solve your debt problems, there are better resources. You can do plenty of this by yourself but if you do decide to hire someone, make sure you avoid debt relief scams.
Are you seeing the pattern?
If you are truly open to doing things differently, you can really benefit by using a financial advisor. If you are unwilling to take advice, don’t kid yourself and don’t waste your money.
Do you use an advisor? Why or why not?