Great partnerships can save lives
Estimated Time To Read: 2 minute(s) 40 seconds
I recently had a fascinating experience with the medical industry. A family member who injured himself in August last year tried to self-medicate. When that did not work they then went to a physio, then a chiro, then had acupuncture, then went to a foot specialist and eventually a neuro surgeon. There was now pain, frustration, irritation and a sense of hopelessness going into this appointment. I went along to support and listen. After 90 minutes the surgeon admitted he did not know what was wrong. The patient was devastated. I asked the surgeon, “if you were us, what would you do next?”
He said, “the problem with the medical profession is the further up the chain you go, the narrower the focus gets. You need to go back to the start and engage with a GP and let them take you through the process.”
On reflection, all professions have the same problem. The financial services industry is equally complex: the further up you go, the narrower the specialised solutions become. When you think about how conversations go at social gatherings, someone will tell you with great confidence and well-meaning that you should either have a trust, cash in your pension, take every penny offshore, buy bitcoin, buy a particular stock or fund which has probably gone up 100% in recent times or only use passive funds. What the neuro surgeon said perfectly described why financial planning exists in the financial services industry.
To a lay person, financial services is bewildering. If you ask a trust guy, “do I need a trust?”, what do you think the answer is going to be? If you ask a particular investment company if you should buy their best performing fund, what will the answer be? If you ask someone working for a life company whether you should have insurance, what do you think they will say?
Many believe that financial advice is simply just another cost that is eating away at your wealth. This is a very limited view and sadly very few people have ever interacted with a true financial planner, a person qualified as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional. In our view, you are better off being with an independent firm which does not have its own product.
You see, financial planning is not about selling you product. It is primarily about getting you to articulate what you and your family are trying to achieve now and in the long term. It is about decluttering your financial affairs, rather than ending up with a whole bunch of products that accumulated from listening to people after social gatherings. It is about understanding and getting in control of your affairs. It also gets you to stick to the plan and not get distracted by the next great idea you hear socially.
Going back to the medical experience above, if my family member had gone to the GP and let them drive the process, they would have been better much quicker and probably spent much less than trying to stay in control and save costs. The ability to partner with a GP or a financial planner also gives you a sense of comfort that you are working with someone who has your best interests at heart. Like in medicine, financial planning has to evolve as your circumstances change either subtly or substantially. One thing is certain: they will change, and to use someone as a sounding board beforehand or during these life changes is incredibly valuable. Equally, a relationship with a CFP or a GP can become a great partnership in your life.