Financial life is “more than numbers”; it’s not just a math equation with “proofs.” Yet, we sometimes talk with prospective clients that are searching for some sort of “proof” that our reality-based financial planning process works.
Actually, our approach can work for anyone but it isn’t suited for everyone. We take time in our initial phone call and Preview Meeting to make sure that we will be a good fit. If not, we try to provide a recommendation for another firm.
Have You Been Brainwashed?
The big financial brokers and banks have brainwashed investors into believing that the solitary focus of their financial life should be on investments. Ugh! This is backwards. Investments are just tools to help you accomplish what matters most in your life.
What you’re trying to accomplish is of far greater importance than investments.
Yet, a recent research study by Spectrem Group of wealthy individuals confirms this mis-guided focus. This survey asked investors to rank the importance of topics that they wanted to discuss with financial advisors. 30% of the respondents ranked investments as the most important topic among 15 possible categories.
This isn’t surprising given the huge advertising dollars spent by traditional financial service firms to persuade individuals that investments are all that matter.
Are You Clinging to Returns?
Advisors who cling to investments or investment returns as a differentiator are all wet in my opinion. This is not to say that investments and investment returns aren’t important. They surely are. But what matters far more is how you behave and secondarily, how open you are to making mid-course adjustments when needed.
It’s common for us to talk with prospective clients that mention within the first minute that they are leaving their current “advisor” (usually not a real advisor) because they want “better returns.”
Many times, their portfolio indeed may be a mess with high cost investment products, too much trading, and no coherent strategy. But the sole focus on investment returns creates a “red flag” for us.
Embrace Financial Science
To live in the “investment returns matter most” world you have to deny the existence of more than 60 years of financial markets research and almost a century of investment returns data.
Where investment returns originate and why is part of financial science and you can choose to embrace this and benefit from it or ignore it and suffer the consequences.
Investment returns are shiny objects, they attract attention. The proof that reality-based planning works isn’t necessarily found there but it might be. Instead, you should be driven by what you’re trying to accomplish over the long term. That’s the focus of real financial planning. Start there.