Everyone is hocking financial advice so how does one decide whose to follow? For example, why on earth should anyone pay any attention to the personal financial advice I offer below? What makes one advisor more credible than another, credentials, their popularity, their marketing savvy, something else? Credentials are nice in that they create a floor with respect to technical knowledge, but they don’t tell you much about the person’s ethics, integrity, or track record. Ultimately all credentials tell you is they succeeded in passing exams.
If I was looking for a financial advisor I’d look for someone that managed their own money well and emphasized saving, investing simply, and had other values that jived with my own. But how do you know if someone manages their own money well when we’re loathe to talk about our personal finances?
Tip one. Ask anyone wanting to manage your money to prove that they’ve managed theirs well. That will probably reduce the pool from which to choose in at least half. Take me for example, I have managed my family’s money well, but for privacy reasons, I won’t provide details except to say that for every ten financial decisions I make, I tend to make seven or eight good ones. Were I in the biz, I would completely understand if that lack of specificity caused potential clients to walk away.
Tip two. Ask any potential financial advisor about some of the mistakes he or she has made and what they learned from them. Last year I made a $9,000 mistake. I repeat, last year I made a $9,000 mistake. It was a brutal, self-inflicted wound that took time to shake. My goal is not to be perfect, but to consistently make more good decisions than bad. Look for a humble advisor who acknowledges complexity and doesn’t over promise. That will probably reduce the pool of potential advisors by at least another half.
Tip three. Even if you find a financial advisor that meets all of those criteria, don’t decide to work with him/her without first looking at yourself in a mirror and repeating several times, “No one will ever care about my financial well-being as much as me.”
Tip four. Never accept any financial advice passively. Instead educate yourself and recognize that no one will ever care about your personal financial well-being as much as you. More specifically, become your own financial advisor. That’s the best financial advice I’ll ever offer. Become your own financial advisor.
Well, the best advice until Part Two.