Visiting a Financial Planner

Okay so I finally did it. I went to a free initial consult with a financial planner. I’ve been trying to get this element of my overall ‘rehaul your financial education!’ gameplan moving for a few months now, but thanks to a lot of bank crap (the Commonwealth Bank truly is the absolute worst), it was proving very difficult. I finally ditched the bank route and struck out to an independent financial planning consultant that I picked thanks to a quick google as to what was near me.

After doing a quick online survey providing some key information about the current status of our finances (read: no debt, a little savings of around $25k), the consultant got in touch and made a lunch time appointment to meet for an initial chat. This initial chat proved to be a weird combination of really interesting and kind of pointless.

I met with a man who spoke very slowly, which oddly and unfairly is a trait that can really irritate me. However, he was very kind, and took everything I said seriously, unlike Commonwealth Bank who considered me to be a complete idiot. We had an awkward handshake and sat in a meeting room, making weird small talk for a little while and I was generally feeling a bit confused about what I’m doing. He then ran through our current financial and life status. Speaking some of the information out loud to a disinterested but expert stranger was surprisingly beneficial, and I learned a lot about the very large gaps in our life goal-setting.

I then had to sit through a powerpoint presentation – a pretty strange process to be honest, since I was the only person in the room. It was a very insightful and useful guide, but in some ways I felt as though I was being talked down to, which is another trait I detest in people. However, the financial planner was a very earnest type; he was direct, and was pretty honest about the fact that we needed to tie this general “we want a financial plan!” to a tangible and emotional goal, such as buying a house, or our imaginary children’s education, or an epic international holiday, and then work backwards from there to setting up various options to match our goals. So I forgave him the talking down, and even believed him when he told me that he knew he wanted to be a financial planner since he was nine years old.

Once we got through the various pieces of the financial puzzle – budget, debt minimisation, wealth growth, wealth protection, tax efficacy and estate planning, we got to the hard stuff. To really formulate a plan we could believe in and commit to, we needed to hammer out our life goals. That would require clearly identifying what we wanted, the associated dollar value and timelines for those things – all topics that we have kind of bounced around without head-on addressing for all kinds of reasons.But these things are extremely doable.

However the big red flag was the quoted $3,000 price tag. I completely understand that the financial planner is an expert, with expert knowledge, and that expert knowledge deserves payment. But it doesn’t necessarily deserve my payment, particularly $3,000 of my money. That is a petrifyingly high amount of money, when our total net worth isn’t even enough to put a deposit on a home.

So, while I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I met a very nerdy financial planner, we have opted out of the professional route and decided todo the work ourselves. We have a budget, so our focus now is wealth growth. The word ‘wealth’ feels like a bit of a lol, since I relate wealth to legitimately rich people, or people who are much older than I am, and as I am neither rich nor older than I currently am (obvi), I feel no right to be using the word ‘wealth’ in relation to my dollars. However, I suppose the long-term goal is wealth, to whatever dollar or lifestyle value that may be, and there is a lot to be said in using the right words for overwhelming concepts.

I still would recommend taking advantage of the typically free initial consult with a financial planner; there’s a lot to be said for starkly discussing your finances to a non-invested third party, and the accidental insight you get by having to cast a very in-depth spotlight into your financial life. But whether you’re comfortable for paying for an accompanying plan and the work is a different ballgame, and I would prefer the $3,000 in my pocket.

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