I had one of those lightbulb moments during a first conversation with some potential clients recently.
The meeting started like most others, and the couple shared some areas they wanted to address – saving for retirement, combining finances as a soon-to-be-married couple, caring for aging parents, and setting aside money for travel. Those concerns are squarely in the financial planning wheelhouse, so it seemed like working with a CFP® professional could be a good fit.
The "a-ha" moment didn't come until the very end of our meeting.
As we were getting ready to end our conversation, one of them asked this excellent question:
"If we were your friends and came to you with these exact same questions, what would you tell us?"
Pow! What a great way to cut to the chase: does working together make sense for their situation? After a brief pause to consider, I gave them an honest and off-the-cuff answer.
"I would recommend that you pick one of the areas you want to address, give yourselves a hard deadline of 2-3 months, and see how far you get on your own. If you're able to check it off your list – or at least make meaningful progress – then you probably don't need my help on that issue. There's no need to pay me for something you can do yourself.
"But," I continued, "if you are stuck or struggling with the same decisions 3 months from now, that's a strong sign that you need outside help."
It's solid advice.
Don't get me wrong: I would have been very happy to work with this couple and, as I mentioned, financial planning is a great option for their concerns. I want to help as many people as I can. If that means we work together to address your biggest financial hopes & dreams (or concerns and pain points), that's a win-win: you get to experience your financial life moving in a positive direction and I get the privilege of helping you make those changes.
But if our initial conversation provides the spark that allows you to handle it on your own and we never work together, I still consider that a huge win. If there is something – information, a different perspective, or just a second opinion – that helps you take control of your financial life, I'm happy to give that away for free 10 times out of 10.
How do you feel about your own financial health? If you'd like to take control of your financial life and want to know if working with a Certified Financial Planner™ is right for you, consider using this approach:
Pick one area that you want to improve
Set a deadline (2 months is a good target)
Make the best decision you can, stick with it for those 2 months, and see where you are.
If the problem is resolved (or if you are confident that you are on the right path), keep going! You're doing great! Pick another concern and repeat this process.
If you instead find yourself stuck or feel in over your head at the end of those 2 months, consider it a strong sign that you might not be able to untangle this issue on your own. It's time to find out how working with a financial advisor can help.
If you try this process, please let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear your success stories. Or, if you need some guidance or want a second opinion, I'd also love to have a conversation to explore how working together can help you get on the right track.
Onward & upward!
Timothy Iseler, CFP®
Founder & Lead Advisor
Iseler Financial, LLC | Durham NC | (919) 666-7604
Iseler Financial helps creative professionals remove stress while taking control of their financial lives. We'll help identify current your strengths and weaknesses, clarify and refine your long-term goals, and prioritize decisions to improve your financial well-being now and later. Reach out today to take the first step.