When should you approach a financial advisor?

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#financial planning, DIY investor, real cost of free investment advice

Not everyone needs an investment advisor. But some people do. They may not realize it though. But a timely, unbiased and objective professional intervention can really make the difference between such people meeting or missing their financial goals.

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Perhaps you are a DIY investor who is in total control of your financial life. Good for you. Or, perhaps you are someone who is not sure whether to hire an adviser or not. But at times, there can be a few very clear signs that may point to the need to hire one.

Signs You Need Professional Help

  • You are smart enough to know you need to take action, but somehow keep postponing it due to lack of time or other reasons. If procrastination or decision-paralysis is coming in the way, give yourself a deadline to put your affairs in order. Say, one year. But if even after that you are unable to do anything concrete, then please seek professional financial help. It will be worth it. At times, a good investment advisor is exactly what is needed to help you get going.
  • Many times, people earn well for years. But somehow, they have nothing in terms of assets and investments to show for their years of work. Reason? They lack the discipline to save. If this describes you, then get help.
  • You don’t have time or interest in learning about managing your personal finances. To be honest, managing personal finance isn’t rocket science. But if it’s not your thing (for whatever reason), then outsource it and make peace with it. Don’t feel guilty about not doing it on your own.
  • Many people are passionate about saving taxes. And they take this to the extreme. If you have been doing the same for years and still don’t have good returns to show for it, then it’s time to accept (or rather realize) that tax planning is not investment planning. It’s time to redo your financial portfolio and a new set of eyes can come in handy.
  • If you have no idea whether you are saving enough for retirement or not and have trouble figuring out the retirement planning calculations, then get a financial planner or investment advisor to help you.
  • Consistently losing money here and there, year after year, is not normal. And it’s not right to blame the markets. If you always end up making bad investments, then a good advisor can see what wrongs you have been repeating for years and if possible, help you undo them.
  • A few big life events (like marriage, children’s birth, house purchase or even approaching retirement) that bring bigger responsibilities demand that one has a relook at their goals and investments. You need to think in terms of saving for real-life goals like children’s education, etc. and not just in terms of trying to beat the markets. A good advisor can chart out a goal-based financial plan that will tell you exactly how much to invest for different goals.
  • If you and your spouse have trouble agreeing on money matters, then an external person can help. You two can speak more freely when an advisor is there to guide and mediate.
  • If you tried and found that your finances are disorganized and frankly, you don’t know where you stand in your financial life, then that is another sign that you need to talk to a good advisor.
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These are just a few signs that you may need help with investments and your money life in general.

If you find a good investment advisor, they will listen to you and ask a lot of questions. They will not use a cookie-cutter approach but, instead, create a customized financial plan that addresses various aspects of your financial life via a well-thought-out strategy.

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And please don’t think that financial planning is only for the rich and the wealthy. It’s for everyone. I think that everyone should talk to an investment advisor at least once.

Can’t I just Google for free financial advice?

Yes, you can. And most people do that. While the internet is full of good financial resources, it also has tons of really harmful content (created by paid influencers) masquerading as financial advice.

What if you act on one such piece of advice? You might get hurt (financially).

Also, if you just google for answers, you might not see the complete picture. You don’t know what you don’t know. So that’s a double-blind spot. How will you know you didn’t miss anything and there are hidden side-effects of your financial actions?

As I wrote a few years back about the real cost of free investment advice: A good investment advisor doesn’t come free. But the cost of having a poor financial product (due to taking free or no advice) is much higher than the cost of professional investment advice. It can derail your financial goals and make it very difficult to catch up with your financial needs in later years.

So before you decide whether to hire an investment advisor or not, do remember that.

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