When a good friend of mine who’s a doctor self-diagnosed herself incorrectly last year and suffered for a week without much-needed antibiotics as a result, I was quick to remind her that even the best doctors out there need doctors of their own. (This was after days of checking up on her and texting “Go. To. The. Doctor” over and over again.) But the reality is that I practice what I preach in the context of my career.
I write about personal finance and investing for a living. So I’m no stranger to picking stocks, and I know all about things like retirement savings and emergency funds.
Despite this, I choose to pay a financial advisor to oversee my long-term investments and help me work toward my long-term goals. Here’s why.
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1. My advisor has knowledge I don’t
My financial advisor has been doing what he does for many years, and he holds different licenses that make him qualified to help people with their money. I don’t have those same credentials. And while I do consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the realm of financial matters and investing, my advisor knows even more. So I don’t in any way feel like I’m wasting my money by getting his help.
2. It’s good to have an outsider’s perspective
Sometimes, when you’ve been doing something a certain way for a while, you can get stuck in a holding pattern. Before I started working with my advisor, I was pretty set on a specific investing strategy. But he introduced me to new ideas that have since served me well. I think it’s a good thing to seek outside advice — for investing goals and in general — because it’s easy enough to get stuck in your own head.
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3. It’s good to have input from someone who isn’t emotionally invested
My financial advisor wants me to do well for a few reasons. First, I believe he truly cares about helping the people he works with. Secondly, if my portfolio doesn’t do well under his guidance, he’ll risk losing me as a client — and other clients as well.
At the same time, my advisor isn’t emotionally invested in my success the way I am. If my portfolio’s value declines, he’s not going to get as stressed as I would, which might, at a time like that, put him in a much better position to manage my investments.
An advisor could do a lot of good for you
Even though I know plenty about investing, I still use a financial advisor to help me work toward my long-term goals, like retirement and college savings. If you’re handling your own finances alone, you should know that help is available — it may be more affordable than you’d think.
Of course, different advisors have different fee structures. Some will charge an hourly fee while others charge a fee that’s a percentage of assets under management. So it’s good to talk to different advisors until you find someone who feels like a good fit, and whose fees work for you. You should also verify your advisor’s credentials before making your relationship official.
One final thing: It’s a big myth that only people with a lot of money need a financial advisor. Wealthier folks may indeed be more inclined to work with a financial advisor, as evidenced by this Northwestern Mutual survey. But in reality, a financial advisor can help you work toward your goals no matter how much income or savings you have at your disposal. So don’t hesitate to explore your options even if you earn an average wage.
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