Ep #29: At What Point Am I Ready To Hire A Financial Planner?

Benjamin Haas |

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Benjamin Haas  00:02

Hi everyone and welcome to A/B Conversations, where we will help you CFP your way out of it. A podcast where you get into the minds of a couple Certified Financial Planners on how we think and feel about everyday financial planning questions and what should really matter most to you, a healthier financial life starts...now!  Hey Adam. Welcome back to A/B Conversations. How are you doing?


Adam Werner  00:30

Hey there. Just great, how about you?


Benjamin Haas  00:34

Excellent. We have quickly moved into the month of April which I'm sure everybody knows is Financial Planning Literacy Month.


Adam Werner  00:42

Of course. Who doesn't know that? 


Benjamin Haas  00:44

This is a great topic today, we typically get the question like, at what point am I ready to hire a financial planner? How and when to get started? I think this is just a good, good way to talk about some of those fundamental things and planning or even what are those situations, those triggers where, you know, we find people coming to us. So let's use that as A/B conversation podcast for this week. 


Adam Werner  01:08

Yeah, a lot of kind of our initial meetings, that initial process is just trying to discover what fundamentals does somebody already have in place and when we say fundamentals, it truly is just kind of the basis of basics when it comes to just good financial habits. 


Benjamin Haas  01:30

Right, right. That should be true for everyone. 


Adam Werner  01:33

Yeah and you said it earlier, just as we were kind of talking through this, it's making sure you have a cash reserve and even that varies. We can give specific feedback, it varies from person to person, couple to couple, it's all situational but just having a cash reserve in the bank. Systematically saving? 


Benjamin Haas  01:58



Adam Werner  01:59

Yeah, whether it is if it's going to that cash reserve until that's at a comfortable level, great. If that means taking advantage of 401k match at work or at least contribute up to the match to get that free money. But systematically saving so that it's not seen and not felt is much harder to spend it.


Benjamin Haas  02:23

Yeah and that's a good one, too. You know what you're spending, your cash flow positive, you're not accruing debt and even when it comes to some of those workplace things earlier in life, or you know, just getting yourself started. Take advantage of their programs, if it's insurance, on the back end, we talked about documenting a will. When we say basics and fundamentals, I guess the point we want to make is, right, you don't need to go pay somebody to get some of these things in order. If you want to be healthy, we're told balanced diet, exercise, and get some sleep, right, you don't go to a paid specialist, the doctor to consult with you on those basics. You know what you have to do, so those are the fundamentals.


Adam Werner  03:05



Benjamin Haas  03:06

I think there are some awesome tools out there right now. It's in the world of do it yourself. There are now good pieces of technology that helps you aggregate your data or track your spending, there's even robo advisors to kind of get you started with some of the simple investing things. Put $100 into this brokerage account over here and just systematically invest. 


Adam Werner  03:32

Yeah, so I think that part of it for a lot of people, depending on the dollar amount and where you're starting, and just what familiarity you have with planning and investing in general that those Robo platforms do a great job of diversifying.


Benjamin Haas  03:50



Adam Werner  03:51

Simply. You plug in some information, you start investing, and they can at least handle that high level where you're, we've seen it, we've had conversations recently where people have expressed some regret of doing investments themselves and just making maybe some wrong moves in the past and just feeling like if they had something that was much more basic, much more plain vanilla, they may be further ahead. And by the way, I could have spent less time having to do all these things on the side, outside of their normal, everyday life that they want to accomplish. 


Benjamin Haas  04:25

Yeah, so let's use that as the pivot. If the question is, am I planner ready and you get some of these fundamentals in order that are pretty basic. Again, there's lots of resources out there to help you make sure you've checked those boxes, then, let's maybe go through the list of what are those triggers that we would say or we find that people are absolutely ready to hire some sort of financial planning help? 


Adam Werner  04:49

Yeah, I think the most obvious is when there is a life transition, whether that's getting close to retirement or changing jobs or getting married, kids going to college, whatever that may be, if there are big decisions that need to be made that also happened to have a financial tilt to them, it may make sense to get a second opinion, or at least get some perspective on what should I be thinking about? What should I be focused on? And maybe more importantly, what should I be avoiding at any point in time?


Benjamin Haas  05:20

Yeah, I almost liken it to if you're at a point with some sort of financial decision where you can't just go to Google and get some sort of basic output, right? And now's the time, right? When we say cash reserve, you're going to Google that and you're going to see, well, I should have anywhere from three to six months, like you can do that math on your own. Now it's life transition. Now I have all these options that are going to take me down very different paths, like now's the time to hire that help. I don't know why this popped into my head but I remember reading that, you know, when a flight takes off from New York to California 97% of the time, it's like off course. And that is absolutely why you've got air traffic control, like making minor changes here and there. I think that's it, if you're at this point where like, now you really need clear direction and you're not sure which way is best for you, hire the help. 


Adam Werner  06:13

Yeah and sometimes that has to do with the timeliness of the decision or when it comes to retirement but one of the people that we spoke to recently, it felt like that time wasn't necessarily on their side anymore. Time couldn't make up for any mistakes. That having money invested. My time horizon didn't feel as long that the market was going to do any more of the heavy lifting, I needed to get this right. I'm at a time where I can't afford mistakes and I don't want to get these decisions or even minor changes incorrect. 


Benjamin Haas  06:46



Adam Werner  06:47

Then again, that's probably time just to make sure, get a second set of eyes and get that bigger context that I think we bring to the table as CFP's. Yeah, look at all pieces of their financial puzzle and be able to start to put them together. 


Benjamin Haas  07:01

So I like that. Life transitions, retirement's a big one. I mean, that's probably when we're most frequently found. I go even more basic, like just for everyone, not even a life transition or a phase of life with retirement. If you're too busy, if you're at the point where you don't feel like you can stay on top of things that should be staying on top of right, you're potentially going to drop the ball. This is the service, this is a service model to help take care of things for you, right? Why do people pay for lawn care or home cleaning? It's not because they don't know how to do it or they can't, it's not the best use of their time. 


Adam Werner  07:39

That's it. That's funny you even bring up lawn care because that's been a recurring theme in my life right now, I haven't mowed the lawn yet this year but I'm looking at it out my side door, some of the neighbors do pay people to do it and it's already been done. It's like, Hmm, maybe I'm getting there, maybe I don't want to spend a couple hours a week working on my lawn, like there are other things that I'd rather be doing with my time. So I guess, parallel to us, right? If someone is not comfortable doing a lot of the research, the analysis, or even just gathering that information and they'd rather be doing other things, it's why we're here. It's okay to be able to hire somebody you trust and are familiar with to at least guide that part of your life so you can get some time back. 


Benjamin Haas  08:28

Yeah, especially as again, those things that you need to stay on top of have like, potentially bigger effects to either your bottom-line efficiencies or even, again, trajectory of your goal. I put in a similar camp to that. If you're at the point where you're starting to get fractured advice, right, you know that you needed to kind of get some help with the taxes or now you've got the attorney or you've got the person at work that talks to you about your 401k allocation. And now they're starting to recognize you're making good money or your net worth is getting a little higher and now you're getting arrows from all these different directions on well I'm doing this or you should be doing that. That is the time to kind of hire the person that puts it all together. It's that whole more money, more problems, like even if you do have the time or that you want to put in the effort to figuring it out, at some point that just gets too confusing when you don't know what is best for you.


Adam Werner  09:25

Yeah and you said earlier, too, if it's something that's easily found on Google, right, cash reserve’s three to six months or there's a wide range there that I'm sure other people say, Oh, you should have a year or you should have two years. The point is, if even that simple Google search brings you many different answers and you don't know which one fits your situation. Again, I think that's where we can come into play and look at all of the pieces, look at their specific situation and say, based off of what you've told us and what you have set up, here's what you should be doing that may be completely different from your neighbor, your co-worker, or a family member. Because I feel like we've said this over and over and over and over again but when it comes to financial planning, it really is situational. There's no one size fits all advice. There could be advice that is similar from person to person and situation to situation but when we say we do planning, we have not had a single plan that has been a duplicate of another. 


Benjamin Haas  10:27

And that's just the nature of what makes up an individual's financial life and then all the way down to how they think and feel about money and that one comes into play, I think too, and we should probably add it to this list. If you find yourself emotional about the decision that you have to make, like just push pause and make sure you've got somebody in between you and that decision. I think it's easy to bring investments into that, right? If you find yourself wanting to log on to your portal and change your investments because there's something that happened in the headlines, you got to have somebody got played defense for you. All the way down to, again, if it's a life transition or something that you're going through in life stress, don't allow those emotions to take over what should be the right reaction that you know, that you would probably make in a calmer time. 


Adam Werner  11:18

And we've certainly played that role where I was going to say, maybe to a fault, we are somewhat detached from the situation. We certainly empathize and I think we are very personal in that approach but we are able to remove ourselves from the emotional side of it and then truly look at the actual facts and figures and the situation itself as a whole to be able to give that feedback or that advice that we think fits that person best at that time.


Benjamin Haas  11:53

Yeah and as you were saying that I was thinking tying a couple of those things together, too busy, fractured advice, maybe it's a little emotional, I often think, do I need a financial planner? How would I know? If you run your own business, that's probably hitting on all of those. It's fractured advice, you certainly don't have enough time. You know, maybe you're really competent with it but the weight of those decisions is really big, especially if you've got paid employees, you've got obligations, contracts, customers, right. One slip up can really mean a lot of bad dominoes. I think that's probably an underserved group, at least that's what we see but they definitely make that list. How do you know if you should have a financial planner? Well, if you run a business, you probably should. 


Adam Werner  12:42

Yeah, we've certainly seen that. And it's hard to carve out time. Like even just finding that time to like offload some of that work to a paid professional is a hurdle in and of itself. But it's just one of those things that if you're at that point, you almost have to bite the bullet upfront. Know you're going to lose some time on the front end to be able to free yourself up on the back end. 


Benjamin Haas  13:10

Yep. Yep. I guess I have one more that just wraps it all together. So you know, chime in here on this one because I think it's the fluff. It's the fluffiest answer that I have. Right? If you are ready, if you feel that you are ready for partnership, whether that's you're too busy, it's emotional. I would say if you have any question where you've now become a little uncomfortable, like you're giving yourself pause. That is the time to make sure that you at least have a conversation with somebody that has been through what you are going through before. Right. And that's where we really do need to separate and the title of the podcast here was on purpose. A/B Conversation, CFP your way out of it, it’s planner ready, not necessarily, financial advisors sticking in that silo that can be investments, if you are starting to feel the pressure of a financial decision that you got to make, you are ready to at least have a conversation. At least knock on somebody's door to say, Hey, what do you think? There's no harm in that.


Adam Werner  14:10

Yeah and I think you said that incredibly well. We've met with people before that is just confirming that what they have in place, that initial meeting is just, these are the questions that I have and we can quickly high level say, yeah, there's no red flags here. There's nothing huge or obvious that is glaringly wrong to us. You're on a decent path. You don't necessarily need us to continue to do what you're doing. 


Benjamin Haas  14:40

And that can be a good takeaway here. As far as next steps for people, you're listening to the podcast. We have a lot of friends in this industry. We know a lot of other organizations that do things in a similar way that we do on the front end and that is they'll usually give you some sort of intro call, right. So if you're starting to think am I ready? There really is no harm in having that intro call to get their opinion on that. Right? So take that step if that's the question but when it comes to some of those bigger things we referenced, yeah, absolutely carve out the time to start talking to somebody. 


Adam Werner  15:12

I agree.


Benjamin Haas  15:13

Alright. Thanks. 


Adam Werner  15:17

Thank you. pleasure as always, 


Benjamin Haas  15:19

We will see you again real soon.


Adam Werner  15:21

All right, bye.


Benjamin Haas  15:28

Hey everyone, Adam and I really appreciate you tuning in. Please note that the opinions we voiced in the show are for general information and are not intended to provide specific recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be most appropriate for you, consult with your attorney, your accountant, and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to making any decisions or investing. Thanks for listening!