What happens when you meet with a financial professional for the first time? I was curious. I’ve made enough financial mistakes and gained enough financial knowledge I thought I knew a fair amount. Our initial meeting happened in mid-2019.
The person we met was very successful, having helped thousands of people through his agency. He had created a system to capture assets overseas and in the US based on many client conversations. Along with this information, he captured financial goals. He used this system to show potential methods to improve your finances.
After getting a lot of detail on our finances, he came up two main solutions. He recommended an indexed universal life policy on myself. We’ll cover an indexed universal life through the course of this blog. This would help cover our some of our savings needs, some of our life insurance needs, and some of our future growth towards retirement. Another recommendation was taking care of our estate planning.
For months afterwards, I asked many smart people what we should do. Their was some dissatisfaction on my part this was not the best, forget optimum solution. At no point did we address the topic of debts and how much we owed. The money we were to set aside every month would not go very far to meet our future needs. We didn’t have an adequate emergency savings. Our life insurance coverage was at a basic level. As I said earlier, the buying of the Tesla kickstarted this awareness we needed to change. Not only solutions, but a change in mindset to make the solutions work.
Here are the top things we learned meeting with financial experts.
You are the best champion for your money
I recommend talking to a lot of financial experts. Each one will tell you something new and give you new ideas. What we realized is, no one is going to look out for your financial interests better than you. The expert may give decent advice. There is no way they will know your lifetime situation better than you in a day. Tailor their advice to help achieve your goals.
Keep learning until you can make smart decisions
You should never stop learning. At the same time, learn enough to make decisions that take you closer to your goal. What is an optimal plan today may change in the future. That’s what I realized. When we started improving our lot in life, the path kept changing. It changed because what we wanted changed. What we wanted changed because of what we learned. There is no optimal set of solutions. Two smart people looking at the same numbers will come up with different solutions. Take the solution that feels comfortable to you and take action. That’s the important step.
Keep asking questions
One way to learn more is to keep asking questions. Ask questions of your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, experts. Everybody. Ask successful people and duplicate their ideas. Ask people on their way to success who have temporarily failed. Be open to change. Be on the growing edge. Talking about money is complicated. We have our own experiences and biases. By asking questions, we’ll start asking smarter questions. With smarter questions, we’ll get smarter solutions.
Realize an optimal solution is a dream
Earlier, I mentioned I wasn’t satisfied the financial professional I met gave me an optimal solution. I spent months looking for one. I looked at how to pay off debt more quickly, how much to have in insurance, how we could boost our savings, how we could grow our assets safely with good returns. It was exhausting. I would have nightmares and sleepless nights worrying about money (or our perceived lack of it).
At some point, I decided to take small experiments, than some larger ones. This allowed me to make progress without beating myself up mentally. No matter what happened as a result of the experiment, I would learn something new. Perhaps I would learn this was a good track, or I needed to finetune something. Given the complexities of life, small experiments and frequent course corrections seemed a better way to make adjustments than being paralyzed with fear. There is no optimum solution. There is only a good enough solution given what we know and where we are. Keep going.
Challenge conventional wisdom
We recently broke up with our financial advisor of four years. Based on what I learned, I told him I was a financial professional and wanted to move my money into different solutions, outside of normal investments. I offered to show my solution to him to get his opinion. The tone changed dramatically. He said I never listened to anything he suggested and what I was doing was wrong. He said with new regulations he had to justify making decisions in the client’s best interest. Therefore, he said take your money and go somewhere else. I’ve never heard of an advisor saying that to anyone. It took us four months of fighting red tape to get our money out, in full.
The conventional wisdom doesn’t mean it’s right. People are living longer. Old ways of doing things don’t mean they will work today, for everyone. Situations are more uncertain. Financial innovation is greater than it ever was. New data and new ideas come up every day. Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. Dig deeper for solutions that work for you.
In my next post, I note down what steps we actually took to improve our situation. There were many, probably dozens of decisions.
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