Tommy Doerfler – CPA, Shares Thoughts on “Getting Help from a Financial Professional”
I am still amazed with the articles I read claiming that personal finance is something an average intelligent person can do on their own. Or that saying to pick a great investment is not that difficult. We all took a math class in high school and can watch the news for the “next big thing” or, more recently, “the next big catastrophe.” The fact is, no matter what a person does for a living they are considered an expert because they do it 40+ hours a week. A janitor that knows the halls of a middle school and the people that attend it, or the mechanic that understands why vehicles fall apart by fixing them every day is a professional. My goal is to help folks understand what a financial professional does, and how and why you should use one.
What does a financial professional do?
Simply put: They are there to help and serve YOU with YOUR financial situation. You are ultimately the decision maker, CEO, of your financial affairs. Your professional has the responsibility, many times difficult; to make sure your assumptions and expectations are realistic. For example, if you have been investing far more conservatively than is appropriate for your goals and circumstances, either out of fear of mistakes or from missing knowledge of how risks can be managed, then it is our job to help. With you we can assess whether and how your portfolio might need adjusting to help improve your chances of reaching those goals.
Why use a professional?
When the financial markets go through one of their periodic downturns, having someone you can turn to may help you make sense of it all. After all, you hire people to do things like cut your hair, work on your car, and tend to medical issues. It just makes sense to get some help when dealing with important financial issues. Even if you have the knowledge and ability to manage your own finances, the financial world grows more intricate every day as new products and services are introduced. You do not have to wait until an event occurs before consulting a financial professional but some events serve as a catalyst for seeking advice such as:
- Marriage, divorce, or the death of a spouse
- Having a baby or adopting a child
- Planning for a child’s college education
- Buying or selling a family business
- Changing jobs or careers
- Planning your retirement
- Developing an estate plan
- Receiving an inheritance or financial windfall
Lastly, and possibly most important, how do you use and select your financial professional?
Even if you are a novice when it comes to finances, do not be afraid to ask a question when you do not understand what is being presented to you. Do not ever let yourself be pressured into making a financial decision; you should be comfortable with the move. This is your money, and you have the right to take whatever time you need to make an informed decision. Do not be reluctant to ask about fees; any reputable financial professional should not hesitate to explain how he or she is compensated. If you think your financial life simply needs a checkup rather than a complete overhaul, you will need to clarify the areas in which you are looking for assistance.
If you feel that consulting a professional can be helpful, don’t postpone making that call. The sooner you get your questions answered, the sooner you will be able to pay more attention to the things—family, friends, career, hobbies—that an organized financial life can help you enjoy.