Many people start a new challenge, adventure, or ambition from a place of desire. Every year Americans makes one, if not more, New Year's resolutions - with the top resolution usually being to lose weight or be healthier. Of those that make a resolution, close to 60% have kept it going after the first month but only 40% are trucking along after the sixth month. Why is that? There are many external, with a few internal, factors that derail some of the best laid plans. One of which is the lack of proper coaching and training. Too often we think "ambition and drive will work this time!" Statistics prove the contrary. With human nature being a detracting force it is even more important to build strong habits and seek out the advice of qualified professionals.
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." - Oscar Wilde
Financial education is not something we should take lightly, nor is it easy, for many, to understand. Resources are ever abundant and articles on various topics can be found everywhere. Point of fact, this article. Sorting through all of the information can be overwhelming and trusting someone to interpret information for you comes with its own set of challenges. So if you are looking to improve your financial life, how do you go about doing it and who should you trust?
Companies have built their entire brand around providing information to the public. For example, Fidelity Investments has built an entire business model around active traders and supporting self-directed investors. Their "Learning Center" is filled with articles, videos, and concepts on how to screen, evaluate, and trade different investments. Furthermore it is filled with content rich information to help investors analyze macro and micro economic events. Unfortunately, they, and others, fall short in interpreting this data into every day concepts that can be digested by most people. More over, these big box models do not support the human psyche. When you decide you want to become healthier, financially or physically, you do not jump into the proverbial deep end and tread water with the most experienced athletes. Most people wade in, get acclimated, and begin the hard work over an extended period of time. For those that acknowledge their intrinsic limitations they turn to a personal trainer, or financial coach, for accountability and ongoing support.
If you are someone who has a hard time staying motivated, or prioritizes your personal life last, then it is important for you to realize your limitations. It is okay to ask for help. The most influential people in society today turn to experts to delegate daily tasks. Others just need the constant push to stay accountable to their goals.
What to look for in a financial coach:
1. Each person is unique. Your concerns may be similar to others but they are unique to you. You want someone who will listen to your issues, assess your situation, and help you design a learning plan to build your knowledge base.
2. Keep an open-mind and remember success does not happen in a day. Look for someone who is willing to spend time with you, at your pace, and help you digest basic and complex concepts.
3. The turn of phrase "There is no dumb question" applies here. You need to feel comfortable asking any, and every, question that comes to mind. This is the only way you will learn and become confident with your research, and personal growth.
4. If at first you don't succeed, it was not for nothing. Ideally you learned a lot from your coaching sessions but there may come a point where you hit a wall or a point of saturation. This is where turning the “Financial Coach” into your “Financial Planner” might make the most sense. Trust is the foundation of every relationship and the weeks, or months, you have spent with your coach should have forged a bond that will help you evaluate this person's role in your financial journey.
You could read article after article or spend ten to fifteen hours a week researching investments, retirement strategies, income planning concepts, and a lot more. However, it is as important to know your limitations. No one will ever have all of the answers. Deciding to use a coach, or hiring a financial planner, can be an evolutionary step in your learning process. Remember, you can do a lot on your own but knowing when to add people to your team can elevate you from your current situation and bring about a new stage of life.
*Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss