The other day my husband and I were completely responsible adults when we met with financial planner Hannah Raynes. Hannah and I met when we did this workshop together a little bit ago. (The photo below is from it, and here is a link to a post that a sweet attendee wrote about the workshop.)
I was so impressed with what Hannah had to say during our presentation (I talked about the getting-out-of-debt part while she talked about the what-to-do-after-you-get-out-of-debt part) that I was not the least bit intimated by the prospect of sitting down and getting her opinion about what our next steps should be. Really, I was kind of excited about it. I should re-phrase that. I was excited to talk with her. I was really nervous as heck thinking about ACTUALLY laying out our financial situation for critique.
While I consider myself a getting-out-debt-pro talking with someone about ALL of our finances was kind of intimidating because it made me feel vulnerable.
When I had debt I didn’t think I could or should talk to a financial advisor because I just assumed that they would tell me what I already knew. I thought I knew what I should be doing and that I just wasn’t doing it. I thought they would tell me, “Get out of debt.” I really didn’t even consider that they might be able to help me get a GRASP on how to do it. Also, I wasn’t sure I was ready to stop what I had been doing.
I was comfortably miserable.
I felt so out-of-control with my money. I didn’t have any money to invest, and I couldn’t keep any money in the bank. (Savings? Yeah, right!) I figured that they had no need for me if I was just a mess without money. Besides, how would they get paid? Also, it would probably be expensive and I thought, “I don’t have that kind of money!! Shoot. I don’t have any money!”. I thought it would be a waste of time and I thought I would embarrass myself if I talked to them. I also thought that only “rich” people talked to financial planners because they needed to know what to do with all that money they had laying around because it was either that or take a swim in it.
I imagined I would be vulnerable, exposed, and lost. I also didn’t think that they would really know what I was dealing with regarding money because I assumed that they had probably always been very good with money. We don’t often hear about financial advisors becoming financial advisors because they suck at money and counting and not keeping their shit together.
There’s no way I was going to be able to relate to them, and I didn’t think they would be able to relate to me. That was that.
Basically, I didn’t see the point.
Now though, I see the point. It took a lot for me to get to this point. I had to hit my “financial bottom”, and I had to be desperate enough to really make some changes.
I’m still naturally a spender. I still WANT to spend the way I want to even if I don’t do it. I’m beginning to think I think it might just be the way I’m formatted.
I. AM. A. ROBOT.
I like getting the Anthropologie emails about all of their sales, and dreaming about fancy outfits. I love looking at Pinterest and lusting after rooms that I would kill (I wouldn’t) to live in. That stuff is fun. It’s fun to dream. It’s fun to imagine.
On the day of the meeting we dutifully gathered up everything we were told to gather, and our meeting began. Something I should add here is that pre-meeting she asked us to think about our financial goals. I only realized then how immature mine still were. My first thought was, “I want to be a millionaire! Yeah!” My 10-year old self loved that. It was completely NOT based in reality, and it made me realize that I didn’t even know WHAT financial goals I should have. Like, what goals were realistic and what ones were not?
It was so nice to give her the full scope of our financial situation, and I found out some very important info. She said that only 4% of Americans ever talk with a financial planner(!), and that most of us spend more time planning a vacation than we ever spend looking at our financial life(!).
She also said that most Americans will never get rid of their debt(!). So if you’re serious about getting out of debt. DO IT. And do it as quickly as possible! And get it over with! BE COMMITTED TO IT!
I was worried that she would find some major flaw in our/mine/his finances and that she would just say, “Well, this sucks and you’re screwed. Sorry. Goodbye.”
Our meeting was coming to a close so before she left we pressed her full a “general impression” of how we were doing. We were nervous; we wanted to know. She said that she was happy that she didn’t have any messes to fix, and we were happy with that. We’ll be meeting with her in a little while to get her full recommendations and the full-report, and we’re looking forward to it.
In the mean-time I asked Hannah a few questions about what to look for in advisor so I could pass it along to you in case you would like to look into one for yourself. Here is what she said:
What To Look For In An Advisor(by Hannah Raynes)
- It’s a good idea to look for an advisor that works for an independent firm (not Edward Jones, NW Mutual, Charles Schwab, etc.) You’ll want to work with someone who is not affiliated with any of their own products so they can be objective and unbiased when they advise you.
- Make sure he/she spends a majority of your initial time together talking about your goals. If he/she makes recommendations without getting to know you first, they may not be using products suitable for your particular situation.
- Make sure the advisor doesn’t promise you anything over an 8-10% ROR (rate of return) if you are younger, and they shouldn’t promise anything over 5% if you are nearing retirement age. Anything with BIG returns should be cautioned.
- Use an advisor who will look at complete planning (tax planning, estate, investment, debt, budget and small business planning). Someone who only looks at investments may put you into a tax situation that may cause more harm than good. Make sure he/she looks at the whole picture.
- It’s also important that your advisor looks at protection planning. I.e. how to protect yourself, your family and your assets in the event that you become ill or die.
- Some advisors hold their Series 63 license which allows them to become licensed in any state in the US. If you have a family member or friend who really likes their advisor, ask if they have their Series 63. With the ease of technology a lot of work can be done over the phone and through email.
- Finding someone who is going to listen to you is important. Also find someone who will work with you over time as the events in your life change.
- I encourage younger people to work with a younger advisor who will be able to work with them over the years. An older advisor may retire before you do and you’ll end up getting passed along or will need to find someone new to work with.
- Most importantly, you have to like your advisor! Find someone whom you like and that you can trust.
Have you ever met with a financial advisor? If so, what were the best and worst things or tips that you took away from the experience?