Several years ago, I received a call from a person who was seeking a second opinion a certain transaction.
This person had already decided what they were going to do but decided to call me to get a confirmation that the decision was correct. It wasn’t a good decision and I explained why.
They took my advice and saved about $300,000 in taxes. I felt pretty good that day.
Then I started to wonder if the advice was really appreciated. Imagine how excited a person would be if I appeared on their doorstep to present a check for $300,000. These $300,000 savings would never appear in an account but is real money.
The value of most financial advice is difficult to measure. For this reason, it becomes important to judge the value of a financial adviser other than by what you see on a statement.
Many people believe when they begin to work with an adviser their accounts will magically grow. It has been proven that advisers tend to get better investment results than do-it-yourselfers, but most advisers are not programmed to chase high returns.
Rather than chase after returns, most advisers measure their success by how well they help people achieve their retirement goals while taking as little risk as possible. Advisers see themselves more as risk managers than Wall Street investment bankers.
Insurance can be an important way advisers add value. Advisers are good at spotting the need for life, long-term care, and disability insurance.
Sometimes, people are underinsured and at other times they are overinsured. I will often see people paying for policies that aren’t even necessary
Many insurance policies people buy have grown old and the reasons that initially triggered the purchase no longer exist. This is a quick way to help people improve their bottom line.
Tax planning is another way advisers can add value. When an adviser sees investment losses in an account they can choose to sell these holdings with losses.
Losses can be used to offset gains. Losses can also be used to offset some ordinary income. Over time, using losses can add thousands of dollars to your pocket.
Most good estate planning requires the expertise of an experienced attorney, but financial advisers can play an important role in estate planning. Making sure the accounts you open are titled correctly.
Also, making sure beneficiaries, where applicable, are also up to date. I have seen a lot of heartaches because a loved did not update beneficiaries before passing away.
This column lists just a few of the ways advisers can be beneficial to you. If you have a relationship with a financial planner and you are questioning the value they have brought to the table, then be open and honest about your concerns.
Your adviser may be able to point out many things they have done to add value to your financial life.