Rule #1 For your financial future: there is no “I” in “team”
Here is rule #1 for building your financial future. Whether you are a business owner, or an individual, you may rely on the advice and guidance of various financial professionals who may not be working together, as a team on your behalf. In a perfect world the people who provide financial planning & retirement, investment management and tax & estate planning advice should work together as your team, to provide professional advice that is suitable for you and in the best interests of your business or family.
Your Experience May Be Very Different From Someone Else's...And That's Okay
Unfortunately, many people don't live in this idealistic world where they enter a nice posh board room with cherry wood floors, ceilings accented by hand carved crown molding and a large luxurious mahogany table where they are going to be seated and joined by their team of wealth management advisors. In fact, there are many people who are currently planning their retirement without the assistance of a financial, tax or legal professional. Your financial future is too precious to try going it alone, without the advice and wisdom of a professional. While it may be possible to plan and manage your retirement without the assistance of a licensed and credentialed professional, this isn't advisable.
To put it another way (considering the close proximity of my Maryland audience to the FEDEX field, home of the Washington Redskins), even though Quarterback Kirk Cousins have proven that he has the ability to outrun the defense of his opposing team and score a touchdown, it is still advisable that he utilize his offensive team to assist him with scoring a touchdown. Using his team will save him time and a lot of unnecessary pain. Likewise, you should employ a team of professional advisors who are willing to work together as a unit when it comes to advising you about your unique financial affairs.
Who Should Be On Your Team?
When assembling a team of professional advisors who you are going to rely on for your financial future, you should understand their unique roles, strengths and capabilities. There is a lot of overlap in the financial services industry. Prior to the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act by Congress in 1999, the lines that divided professionals in the "financial" industry weren't as blurred as they are today. Banks provided checking & savings accounts and made loans to small businesses. Financial Advisors provided financial planning advice with the responsible use of insurance and assembled and managed investment portfolios comprised of stocks, bonds, mutual funds. Whereas, tax & accounting professionals filed your tax returns. In other words, avoid hiring a "Jack of all trades."
There is something to be said about hiring someone who is the best at what he or she does. Therefore, find a financial advisor who is proficient and passionate about adhering to the financial planning process which includes, building, properly diversifying and managing an investment portfolio and when necessary, suggesting the appropriate type of insurance for protection and income purposes. Likewise, your mortgage broker, banker and tax & accounting professional should be passionate –and proficient- in at least one area of their work that represents a single component of your multifaceted financial life.
Please Take The Time Conduct Interviews Before Hiring a Financial Advisor
Managing someone's finances is a very important job, to say the least. How many phone calls have I received from people who hired their sibling or cousin to manage their financial affairs with the only qualification being 1) they were related to the financial advisor 2) the financial advisor is "licensed" to work in the financial services industry. Listen carefully. INTERVIEW MORE THAN TWO FINANCIAL ADVISORS before you make a final decision! Interview your advisors before hiring him/her and discover for yourself what makes them 'tick' with respect to why they have chosen to work in the field that they are in. It should not be enough for them to simply state, "I really enjoy working as a _________." What you want to hear is why they have chosen to work in their respective field and what is their specialty? If there is one thing that they are good at in their field, what is that one thing?
Another reason why you should have a team of advisors with clear distinctions in their respective fields of work which they can provide on your behalf is because you need advisors who are 1) objective and not driven primarily by their own financial goals, 2) free of "group think" so that the advice which you are given reflects a unique point of view and a perspective that demonstrates the depth of thought and mastery that have been obtained by diligent and comprehensive scholarship in a particular discipline. Remember, there is no "I" in the word "team." This is a truth that is essential for success in life and for your financial future.