Today, cars and smartphones are equipped with state-of-the-art GPS navigation systems. All you have to do is provide the appropriate coordinates and it will deliver you a real-time road map that will take a lot of the guesswork out of driving somewhere new.
Similar advanced technologies now exist for the financial planning industry. Having a navigation system on your retirement plan allows you to focus on the end game and not on the minutiae. A big part of having the appropriate Money Mindset is knowing where you want to go and why. That’s what this book is about: (1) helping you formulate your financial road map, and (2) helping you calculate the most appropriate way to get there. Once you have that figured out, and you have an effective way of monitoring your progress, you should be able to focus on what’s important in life and not get so caught up in the what-ifs of life.
Now that you know what is required to create and effectively manage an appropriate Money Mindset in the 21st century, you have come to a financial crossroad. From here you can decide to either manage your money on your own or get professional help. In order to manage your money on your own, you will need to greatly further your education on the details and technical aspects of finances, as well as get a good understanding of global economics.
Do you have the time and energy to manage everything on your own? Are you able to manage your emotions when it comes to financial uncertainty? Are you comfortable with the daily risk and responsibility?
A March 2014 Vanguard research paper titled “Putting a Value on Your Value: Quantifying Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha” concluded that if a financial planner thoroughly goes through the process and helps an individual with their asset allocation, provides behavioral coaching, and helps with their spending strategy, the advisor can add about 3 percent a year in net returns to the client’s portfolio.1 This finding may help you make your decision about whether or not to work with a qualified financial planner.
If you do choose the path to work with a financial planner, I encourage you to get to know their process of working with clients. Each advisor will have their own style and specialty but overall, they should incorporate a holistic process: engaging, exploring, designing, implementing, and managing your personal plan.
The first step in a holistic retirement planning process is engaging with you. The financial planner should get to know you and understand the financial “whys” of your life. In addition, data should begin to be incorporated to help you to envision the appropriate game plan to achieve your various financial goals. Your retirement age, desired monthly income, and risk tolerance should be discussed in great detail.
Step two of the process requires the financial planner to reflect on your situation and begin to explore and formulate a strategic game plan that can realistically be achieved. Calculations of how much you should be investing on a monthly basis, what average rate of return is appropriate, as well as the appropriate mix of various investment vehicles are all taken into consideration.
The third step involves the financial planner showing you the potential design and discussing the nuances of how the plan could be implemented. Expectations of the success of the plan are discussed and all questions pertaining to the plan are answered.
The fourth step, implementation, takes place only when you feel comfortable with the design. This is also the stage at which the discussion takes place regarding how the assets are managed and how often you will meet with the financial planner. The implementation step is when the necessary paperwork is filled out, assets are transferred, and then funds are allocated based on the agreed design.
The last step is the day-to-day management of the plan and the investments within the plan. There should be a process outlining how the financial planner plans on managing the assets and how often he or she will meet with you. It is advisable to meet with your financial planner at least annually, if not more often if the need arises.
It is true, there are a lot of moving parts to the holistic retirement planning process, but if you go through it with a qualified professional and you feel that you are both on the same page, then you will be able to stop worrying that you potentially miscalculated, took on too little risk, or are overly exposed to a major economic crisis. Someone else who knows you and your financial situation is taking care of those concerns for you.
The great value of a qualified financial planner in the 21st century is that he or she can help frame your Money Mindset, guide you through the holistic retirement planning process, and hold your hand through the daily gyrations of our capitalist system. Having someone that understands your needs, wants, and wishes, and works with you regularly to accomplish your goals is quite powerful.
Truth be told, sometimes I feel more like a psychologist than a financial planner. The emotional component for my clients as I guide them to build and live off their wealth in this ever-changing economic climate can be enormous.
So how do you go about finding the right financial planner; where do you look? I believe the best way to find a competent financial planner is by a referral from a trusted source. Think about the people in your life you respect—what they’ve created financially, their attitudes about money, and the way they respect money. Ask them if they work with a financial planner and if they do, ask if they are satisfied with him or her and if that advisor is taking on new clients.
Another option is to utilize the Financial Planning Association’s resource center, located online at www.plannersearch.org/Pages/Home.aspx.
The premise of this book isn’t to teach you everything you need to know about wealth management—it is just the first step of your financial education. I hope this book will lead to further discussions among you and your colleagues, or your family and friends, or if you’re currently pursuing an advanced education, that it sparks discussions in classes as well. This book hopefully gives you good ideas on how to further your financial education in specific areas and what steps you can take now to start putting together a solid financial plan. My hope is that it helps you develop the right financial mindset to harvest enough economic energy to have the financial independence that you desire.