What If Financial Advice Really Worked For You?

Broken promises. Unmet expectations. Poor service. Or worse.

These outcomes aren’t unusual when you work with service providers, be it the cable company or your doctor’s office. It’s no wonder that we’ve come to expect less and less of the people and companies that we hire to make our lives easier or better — or both.

It’s also why when someone actually delivers what they promise, we’re giddy with joy and happiness. Sadly, the bar has been set THAT low in our minds.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and just imagine for a moment that your view of a service industry — like the financial advice industry — were different. In fact, imagine if it really were different.

Now, open your eyes and let me introduce you to financial planning and advice done right.

My approach to financial advice is a process focused entirely on you, and what’s important to you.

No more discussion of all the stuff that doesn’t really matter or the stuff that we can’t really control anyway.

Instead, let’s dig really deep into your “why” and focus less on the “how” and the “what.” First, we need to figure out, in your mind and in your words, why you want to accumulate wealth.

In other words, what’s the money for? Why save, spend,or invest in the first place? When you know why you’re striving for a certain outcome with your finances, you can set the right goals that matter to you. When you set the right goals, you’ll be able to know if you’re making progress in the right direction.

Once we determine your “why,” we need to focus on the things you can control. Things like how much you save or how much you spend, the timing of your goals and dreams, the level of investment risk you’re exposing your hard-earned savings and investments to, how much, if any, you’d like to leave behind to people or causes, as well as your costs, including taxes.

It’s a really empowering experience when you realize you have much more control over your future — financial and otherwise — and aren’t subject to the whims of Wall Street or the “market.”

Now this next part is as important, if not more so, than understanding your why. After you have you why, you’ve got to tune out all the noise.

In this context, noise includes everything the Wall Street marketing machine spits out on a moment-by-moment basis in the news, via your well-meaning friends and family, on TV, in newspapers and magazines, and all the crap online. It’s just information, nothing more. It’s rarely knowledge, and it most certainly isn’t wisdom.

It’s a well-designed marketing message for the masses. For example, how can a magazine cover that says “The 5 Stocks To Buy Now!” really be the right advice for you at this moment in your life when the editor of the magazine and the author of the article don’t even know who you are? And they certainly have no clue what’s important to you or what your goals are or if you even need to buy stocks.

These strangers don’t know your why. They don’t know your unique situation, goals, and needs.

In this instance, it good to be a healthy skeptic of everything you watch, hear, or read. This includes being skeptical of anything I’m telling you as well as being skeptical of anything another financial advisor tells you, no matter how compelling the “pitch” sounds.

Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. But don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek answers, and do your own research or gather second opinions.

Let’s quickly review what we’ve covered so far, and then we’ll jump right into the fun part:

First, you need to start with your own personal “why.” Why are you investing? Why are you saving? What’s the money and the investing for? What’s really important to you? And are your finances aligned with the important stuff or do they reflect the last best idea you had or heard?

Second, you need to focus on the things you can control. Wall Street and the media spend a lot of time and money talking about things that no one has any control over.

While they’re talking about the market or this stock or that investment manager or the Oracle of Omaha or interest rates or the price of oil or the situation in Europe, you can instead focus on the things in your control.

This includes how much you save or spend, the timing of your goals, investment risk and more. You’re not a helpless pawn in some Machiavellian game being played out by the big Wall Street icons.

You can confidently take action by pushing or pulling the multiple levers you control that will directly impact your life both now and into the future.

After you’ve got your focus where it needs to be — on the things you can control — remember to tune out the noise. This is easier said than done because noise is everywhere and it’s getting louder and louder everyday. And the noise is coming at you from all directions including friends and family, the internet, the television, the radio and in print media. Ignore it.

Now, here’s the fun part I mentioned: you get to focus on living your best life.

No more deferred life plans where you work hard for 40 years and then can spend the time and money pursuing the things that are really important to you and your family.

No more living a life that you may well regret down the road. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal and we all only get one shot.

And please don’t misunderstand, I’m not giving you permission or license to be irresponsible with your time or your money. But given the personalization and empowerment that comes from my financial advice process, you can strike a wonderful balance between living your best life today and being comfortably and confidently prepared for an uncertain future, no matter what it brings.