ONE THING TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY
COMPLEXITY SELLS. The Canadian Couch Potato does a great job of explaining it here. The industry knows that the less you understand about what you are buying, the less likely you are to question the fees you pay.
MUCH OF THE JARGON AND NONSENSE YOU HEAR IS INTENTIONAL. Often times it sounds impressive, but it is, well, jargon and nonsense. It is designed so you feel helpless and uncertain about what to do. It is implied that there are too many options to choose from and without ongoing professional guidance your future – all you have worked for – hangs in the balance.
THE MASTERS OF COMPLEXITY ARE THE WEEKEND RADIO FINANCIAL SHOWS. Advisers purchase time to promote their knowledge and advisement and impress upon listeners how much they can help. It’s all marketing – it is difficult for me to listen to all of the BS they spout. Here is the deal – they want you to come to their seminars or set up meetings with them so you will buy their overpriced products. Virtually all of them promote this notion of how complex everything is and how valuable they can be in helping you figure it out.
BUT GUESS WHAT? I work in the industry. I know that it’s just not that stinking complicated!!!! Very few of us have complex tax and/or estate planning issues. For example, this article from tax accountant Stephen Nelson explains that retirement taxes are not an issue for the great majority of people.
SURE, FROM TIME TO TIME, YOU COULD NEED HELP. You might need to put together a will or update it. You might need help establishing a budget. You might need to learn about investments. You might need to learn how to prioritize your savings. You also might need to complete a financial or retirement plan.
AND I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MIGHT FIND THIS CHALLENGING. People are intimated by many aspects of personal finance. However, learning about this doesn’t require hours and hours of research and multiple meetings with professionals. It just doesn’t!
IF A FIRM OR ADVISER CANNOT HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS, I DON’T THINK THEY ARE HELPING YOU. Be wary of any financial advisers that proclaim how much you need their assistance. This is a sign that they need you more than you need them!