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The Most Important Conversation to Have with Your Financial Advisor

If you have a financial advisor, or have thought about hiring someone to help with your finances, you likely think the conversations should be all about money. This is how the financial advising or planning profession has been working with clients for decades. 

Many of the conversations are about investments, retirement, risk, return, savings, budgeting, insurance, estate planning, and taxes. Don't get me wrong, these are all important topics. But if your conversations with a professional about your finances start with the numbers, they're doing you a disservice. Let me explain why.

Conversations that start with the numbers often assume that there's a number you need to get to, and that you should keep score to determine if you are doing enough. Are you saving enough? Are your returns enough? Is your allocation good enough? Do you have enough insurance?

Enough FOR WHAT?

It's the FOR WHAT that matters. It's the most important conversation to have. What can you do with your money to make sure your life is the best you can make it, now and into the future? This is why when I start working with you, I ask you to tell me your financial story. How did you grow up? What was your family financial situation?

They way your parents handled the family finances can give me insight into behavioral tendencies you might have. Your financial history can help me understand why you make the choices you do. WHO you are has far more impact on the success of your financial plan than the economic forces at play over which you have no control. 

These conversations aren't easy to have. They often bring up emotions that can be pretty powerful. Many people strive to be like their parents and feel bad when they can't measure up. Or, they don't want to repeat the mistakes their parents made in the past and don't know how to go about making solid financial decisions. 

Once I understand your financial life story, my biggest contribution is helping you align your money with your values and keeping you on track to meet future possibilities. 

There are a couple of aspects I focus on to make sure this happens. First, are you using your money to enhance your health, relationships, location and feelings of security? Do you live somewhere you're unhappy because you don't think you can afford to leave? Has stress about money impacted your health or relationships?

Second, are you making progress toward getting more out of your life? Are there ideas you've dreamed of pursuing but never thought you could? Do you work at a job you hate just because it pays the bills?

Third, do you feel like you have financial freedom to make choices that would make you happier? Could you improve your career satisfaction by working less, switching jobs, companies, or industries? Are there causes you would like to champion that you don't have the time or money to devote resources to today?

These are the questions I find have meaning and value to clients. These are the conversations I love to have, not the ones about investments, insurance, or taxes. Put your money to work for you so you can achieve the best quality life you can have with what you've got. You only get one shot.