“In all things, success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is to be such failure.”—Confucius
Financial institutions enjoy touting how little time Americans allocate to managing their money, as if that billboard or commercial will suddenly guilt us into responsibility. You name the hobby and there’s an ad showcasing its victorious attention span versus financial planning... People spend more time planning their vacations, taking selfies, looking at Facebook, playing Candy Crush, watching TV, and on and on. If Americans know their retirement savings are more important than the next car they buy, why the opposite correlation between perceived value and applied effort?
Here are the top reasons for negligence I see as a Certified Financial Planner:
1. “Financial Planning? That’s for rich people!”
Sure, we would love to work only with people making millions a year, but if that were the case we’d all be sitting around scratching our heads. If your clients really don’t think they are rich, why don’t you start preparing them to be rich? They deserve it!
2. “I’ll do it myself”
With a YouTube video ready for any project, we’ve entered the Do It Yourself (DIY) era. This group usually comprises engineers, introverts, people who might have been “burned,” or your classic know it all. Scientists once believed the Earth was flat, not because they were ignorant, but rather the appearance of knowledge wrongly confirmed a falsehood. The smartest people are those who can admit what they don’t know.
3. “The Great Recession”
The media loves the hype of fear and negativity. The recent recession provided an enormous crutch and opening for losers to say, “Everyone has it tough right now, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get a job or make money again. But hey, at least we’re all in the same boat.” Baloney! Winners know that recessions have opportunity written all over them. Buy when things are on sale rather than at a premium.
4. “I’m Confused”
The most legitimate of all reasons, promulgated by an endless stream of information. In 1993 The American Academy of Pediatrics estimated that young adults see 3,000 advertisements in a day… Radio ads, billboards, TV, placemats, and the like.1 That’s before we even had internet and spam e-mail! Not to mention this content is meant to be sexy, not helpful. TV stations gain advertising dollars by attracting viewers, not educating the public.
So, how does one decide when they all seem so great? In psychology, there is a term called “Channel Capacity.” This is referring to how the brain can only retain so much information. Perhaps this is why doctors are so brilliant, but seemingly dumbfounded by finance. The knowledge of a trusted professional can allow them to use their transacted memory, permitting them to expand their horizons.
5. Bernie Madoff
Reason number five is also acceptable. Bernie Madoff is scum that should be strung up from light fixtures in front of the NYSE, medieval style. As the old saying goes, one rotten apple can spoil the bunch. Hundreds of clients reject perfectly sound recommendations because they’ve got a story. “Mutual Funds!? Those things are a racket… I know someone who...” “Annuities!? You kidding me? My neighbor lost his shirt.” “Life Insurance!? What a waste! I got wrapped into one of those things way back when.” When people feel as if they’ve been burnt in the past, it automatically eliminates any future consideration. As if you had a bland pizza pie as a child and then refused to walk into an Italian restaurant the rest of your life. He who suffers remembers. A good story is worth more than the truth.
The worst reason of all. It really is the only one that we can’t help our clients with, and they can’t blame us for it. Many a false step was made by standing still. If at any point the consultation becomes more important to me than the client, we have a serious problem.
A conversation with Mr. and Mrs. NeedaFinancialPlan goes a lot like this: “We are so busy and with a new house and kids at home we really need a financial plan. Except in the spring, my husband and I like to enjoy the park and warmer weather. Except in the summer, we have vacations and hit the beach whenever we get a minute. Except in the fall, the leaves change beautifully and we love to sit on the porch and unwind. Except in the winter, we’re swamped with holidays and ski trips. Then in the spring the sun breaks out and…”
There is never a perfect time to start planning, and there’s always a great excuse to wait awhile. But that’s how life passes us right by. We are called the human race because we humans are always racing around. If prospective clients can’t make time for a twenty minute conversation, they’re going to need two hours.
Remember that different isn’t always better, but better is always different. Don’t be so afraid of change or that second opinion. As the Buddhists say, “First intention, then enlightenment.” Financial decisions won’t always be perfect, but that’s ok—the journey never is. You can help clients correct course as they go.
Bryan M Kuderna
CFP, LUTCF, is an investment adviser representative with Kuderna Financial Team. He is a perennial qualifier for the industry's prestigious Million Dollar Round Table®, Leaders Club, and Inner Circle. He is the author of the best-selling book, "MILLENNIAL MILLIONAIRE- A Guide to Become a Millionaire by 30". Kuderna has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics from The College of New Jersey. He has also studied at The University of Tampa and The University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic. He is a featured speaker nationwide at college campuses, teaching hospitals, government offices, syndicated talk radio shows, and major publications on the subjects of financial literacy, millennial business, networking, and personal development. Kuderna can be reached at Kuderna Financial Team, 1040 Broad Street, Ste. 202 Shrewsbury, NJ 07702. Phone: 848-456-3057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.