Back in the day, I think there was this perception of financial advisors as a person sitting across the table telling their clients what to do and how to invest their money. I also think people view financial planning as time consuming and expensive. In reality, it’s just another aspect of life.
Think of it this way—if you get sick, you go to the doctor. If your sink gets clogged, you call a plumber. It’s our job as the professional to explain what service we’re providing and to create the value that justifies the work or cost. Because ultimately, not getting help or fixing the problem (remember that clogged sink?) could end up hurting you more in the long run.
A perfect example is seeing an 85 year old working as a greeter at Walmart or a cashier at Rite Aid. Sure, there’s a chance that they want to be there. But more than likely, they need the income because they didn’t do the proper planning when they were younger. And it’s not always about being financially prepared for retirement. It’s also about being financially prepared for the unexpected.
A story I like to tell my clients before we start on their financial plan—to give them some perspective—is a story about my mom. One day over Labor Day weekend, she and my stepdad took a drive. They stopped at a lookout point to take photos and enjoy a picnic. As they were leaving, they drove around a corner and a full-sized extended cab truck smashed into them. Luckily my mom made it out with only a few bumps and bruises, but my stepdad was killed instantly.
After the funeral, I helped my mom with the next steps of figuring out my stepdad’s assets, like his retirement, life insurance, and personal belongings. This ended up being a grueling and long process. To make matters worse, neither of them even have a proper will. All they had was handwritten notes on yellow legal pads.
We eventually got everything figured out, but because my stepdad had been married before and had a child who was a minor, more than half of his assets went to his ex-wife and daughter. My mom was left with next to nothing. She had no extra savings and no backup plan. She now lives with me here in Oregon, living a much different life than before.
Not everyone will lose a spouse or have to work into their eighties, but that’s the uncertainty about life. I always tell people to start saving now. Start saving for your retirement. Save for the unexpected. Save for your future. I also tell them that it’s really simple start. All you need to do is pay yourself first.
Make yourself a priority when it comes to your money. Before you pay any of your other bills, pay yourself first. An easy and efficient way to do this is to set up recurring payments. Then, as soon as you get paid, the money is transferred automatically to a savings account. It doesn’t have to be a lot either; start small and increase the amount over time. But don’t wait. Putting it off by even a year means having to save exponentially more than if you were to start today.
I like to compare financial planning with Google Maps. It’s an app that contains the entire world and that can be intimidating. But as soon as you enter a starting point and an ending point, Google Maps gives you a direct route to follow. Even though there are a million other things going on around you, you have a plan.
That’s what we do here at Heritage. We create you a plan; a road map to follow. We’re more than a strange person sitting across the table. We’re an advocate, a resource, and a friend that you can count on. We take a genuine approach when working with our clients and we take the time to get to know them. From their entire financial picture to their family, their goals, their concerns, and what we can help them accomplish outside of their investments. Because for us, it’s about more than just money; it’s about building strong and lasting relationships.
About the Author
Kimberly Superneau is the Vice President, Program Manager at Heritage Bank. She joined in October 2012 and was the first employee with Heritage Wealth Strategies. Over the past five years, she has attracted new clients and staff to build the program across the Pacific Northwest. She has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and specializes in personal wealth management, trust and estate planning, business retirement/succession, insurance solutions, and comprehensive tax strategies.