I’m envisioning stuffy men in suits looking down at me across a mahogany desk. The look in their eyes is condescending and suddenly I feel inept. This “traditional” financial advisor’s office feels like something out of Mad Men or The Wolf of Wall Street. I’m getting tense just thinking about it. It’s no wonder that a lot of women turn to “fight or flight” when it comes to seeking financial advice. I’m not saying that all financial advisor offices out there are like this—my hope is that the vast majority aren’t. But, I can tell you that I’ve been in a few quite similar to it—and the thought of walking back in there is making my palms sweaty. My sense is that women who can envision this with me are either on “high alert” when they walk in an advisor’s door for the first time—ready to defend their intelligence and competence--or the appointment never gets made. After all, who wants to walk into an environment like this? In our world today, women are moving more and more into the bread winner role—many of whom are strong single women playing the roles of career woman, mom, daughter, friend, and more. If you’re one of these strong single women and the preceding illustration feels familiar, I’d like to take a minute to put your mind at ease—it doesn’t have to be this way.
Before going further, let’s tackle something out of the gates. What the heck is a financial advisor anyway? Are we talking about an insurance advisor? Investments? A retirement plan representative? A banker? All of the above? None of the above? Good questions. Part of the challenge is that the term “financial advisor” is overly used and is defined differently depending on where you are or who you’re talking to. Someone at your bank, insurance agency or investment firm may all refer to themselves as a “financial advisor”. But, they’re each likely focusing on one piece of the puzzle—and they’re each getting paid for their piece. But who’s looking at the most important piece of that puzzle—you--and at what you’re trying to accomplish for you and your family?!
A financial advisor should be an advocate. Your advocate. They’ll help you ponder and address your financial concerns and aspirations. And they’ll develop a plan for getting you there. But here’s the best part. They’ll continue to walk with you, helping you make adjustments over time where needed to make sure you’re on track. And they’ll start to feel more like a friend or family member than a professional contact. Sound crazy? I promise it can be a reality. It simply has to be an individual of utmost integrity who will advise you as they would their own family, and in my opinion, is established in a fee-only practice. This may seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but I assure you that advisors like this are out there.
This relationship should go way beyond banking, investments or insurance. Yes, the way your savings are invested is important. As is being properly insured. But, we’ve heard time and time again from our female clients that they don’t worry about their investments or their insurance—they know we’re worrying about those pieces of their life for them. In our opinion, a true financial advisor should look at all pieces to the puzzle and give guidance on each. For example, they may not be an insurance agent, but they’ll review your coverage and let you know if you need to obtain additional life insurance. Then you can call your agent’s office feeling informed and ready to make a change.
Most importantly, you should feel at ease with your financial advisor. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to talk about tough topics or make painful decisions. And it doesn’t mean that they’ll earn your trust overnight. But it does mean you’ll have someone you can confide in walking beside you as you navigate your financial life.
At PYA Waltman, we are grateful to walk alongside our clients. We would love the opportunity to earn your trust. Click here to learn more about our financial planning services.