When’s the Best Time to Hire a Financial Planner? Before You “Need” One.

I must start with an acknowledgment that this blog post is clearly self-serving. It also happens to be something I genuinely believe.

And I think it makes sense if you consider the analog in, say, marriage counseling. It’s so much easier, more effective, and more pleasant to start working with a marriage counselor when you figure out you and your husband aren’t communicating as well as you could be. But nothing is broken, per se. Yet.

As opposed to waiting until you and your husband have retreated, sullenly, to your respective passive-aggressive corners and communication is in the proverbial sh*tter. And then you seek out counseling. That road’s going to be a lot less pleasant.

Waiting to the Last Minute Risks Not Getting the Help You Deserve

At Flow, we are lucky enough to work mostly with people who have figured this out, consciously or not. They come to us when there’s a decision looming, and they need help making it. But we also have time to do the necessary work to make the right decision.

On the other hand, sometimes women reach out for help with a big, important question that needs an answer now.

A couple weeks ago, a woman called to get my help in evaluating an investment she wanted to make in a startup. Putting aside that this sort of investing is not my jam, you might say, she was asking for help within the next week because the first round of funding closed in 7 days.

Investing in a startup is a big decision. You need to evaluate the startup, sure, but you also need to have a solid understanding of your own finances. And anyone giving you advice needs to know those two things, too. That’s not something you can usually turn around in a week. So, this woman is going to end up receiving sub-par help simply because she didn’t have an established relationship with a planner who understood her situation.

Another prospective client told me she needed help evaluating a couple of job offers she’d just gotten. I don’t know how you think about job offers, but it’s a Big Decision, with lots of moving parts, and the best decision is based on your Entire Picture, not just salary or RSUs or 401(k) match.

I don’t feel good about the kind of advice I give people in those constrained circumstances. I know that time would make the advice so much better.

Rules of Thumb When You Don’t Have the Time

There are some financial decisions that can be guided by impersonal rules of thumb:

  1. How much to save for retirement
  2. How big a downpayment to make
  3. How big your emergency fund should be

And in the absence of understanding your entire financial situation, I say, Better rules of thumb than nothing!

But the best decisions are going to require looking at all your finances, assembling the total picture, and evaluating your one decision in the context of that entire financial picture. That takes time. But once you take that time, you can make all decisions more quickly, more easily, and more confidently.

Do you want to make sure your financial life never gets off track in the first place? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

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