The First Meeting with a Financial Adviser – 5 Signs to Cut and Run.

Originally posted on Random Thoughts of a Money Muse:

It’s frustrating, time consuming and intimidating to find the perfect financial professional.

It’s the first meeting (finally).

What signs should raise the hairs on the back of your neck?

hair back of nneck

First hair: Products are discussed. How can an adviser discuss products when they have no idea of your situation? The initial meeting is one of inquiry and discovery, not solution or product. It’s fine if you have a product-based question, other than that? No.

Second hair: Too talky. You are seeking an inquisitive, active listener. Not a talker. You should be doing most of the jaw boning, not your prospective adviser.

Third hair: Not enough questions. A good adviser is like Columbo in less-wrinkled clothing. Keep a detective’s eye out for open-ended questions which allow you to tell your story and share concerns.

columbo one Heck, if it’s a good adviser, forgive a messy tie.

Fourth hair: Limited eye contact

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The Tolle of the Governor: 6 Steps to Rebirth.

“Been on the road a couple of months.”

“By yourself?”

“Yea.”

“Where did you live before that?”

“I was in a town.”

“Were the monsters there?”

“No.”

“It was safe. Full of good people.”

“What happened?”

“He just – lost it.”

“Who?”

“Man in charge.”

“I barely made it out alive.”

Brian Heriot aka “The Governor – Philip Blake.”

governor beard

As you rip from the past, forge a path to the present, there’s a good chance the man in charge will unravel.

Actually, it’s guaranteed.

There will be.

A tumble, a spiral down, to discover who you really are inside.

And burn out what’s haunting your sleep.

Because fire cleanses.

Extinguished fires leave imprints.

Black stains scar foundations.

governor burn three

I’ve learned to fear and respect fire of the mind. 

You won’t notice change; at the surface you’ve built high fences. However, underneath, today’s thoughts are directing steps to a place you must go.

Actions will eventually get you where you need to be.

First you’ll stagger.

Over time, your gait will firm.

Deeper strides begin.

You don’t look back any longer.

Perhaps you’ll change your name to a person who was loved once.

brian heriot

Take on a new identity.

Not an issue. Whatever it takes. You do it.

Because a free mind can’t be shackled.

And ego is loosening the grip.

Yep: To gain a second chance at life you must die first. A piece of you must pass. In the worst case, an organ will be sacrificed. An element of your sanity, or stamina go to black.

You’ll fight until exhaustion.

Thrash.

Until death overtakes you.

You understand (finally).

There’s no other choice.

If you want to survive.

An enriched life dwells in acceptance, not resistance.

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death.”
Eckhart Tolle

When my father was in the care of hospice and dying one cancerous internal a minute, I wanted to accelerate the process somehow. I thought of insidious ways to fast-track his departure. There was red behind my eyes. I couldn’t understand why he needed to suffer.

I didn’t want to understand then how we all must suffer.

To climb to higher places.

Grow.

I was mad at dad for leaving. I hated how I held his hand for ten hours and for five of them it felt like gripping flesh ice.

He always did the opposite of what I thought he should.

As the man in charge he drank too much, womanized too much, worked too much.

Holy shit.

As the man in charge you do it, too.

Rain blood on the closest ones.

Splatter some on yourself.

And it never.

Washes off.

The man in charge forced rules you lost interest in a long time ago but still followed; you couldn’t understand why you carried them with you for so many decades.

Maybe the space felt comfortable even though it worked against your spirit.

It’s the clash. A battle. Between past and present. Ongoing.

And in acceptance you admit.

Finally.

You were indeed, the man in charge.

Suckered, duped, stupid, evil, resentful.

All you.

Good or bad. That was you for a time. A system-based creation from endless approval of others and false control – courtesy of ego.

Because you couldn’t control outcomes. You couldn’t accept the rejection, the change, the spin of the earth, until damage was done -

It’s not fight or die.

It’s fight, THEN die.

Your inner self, perhaps who you were as a child, was a pale light in the distance that eventually got snuffed out.

Realize..

You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
Eckhart Tolle

And a new man in charge emerges.

Out of the shatter.

Wakes up reborn.

Carrying new rules.

Stripped of ego.

Steeped in humanity; seeded from insanity.

New choices.

A higher self.

Rebirth.

And so it was for Philip Blake.

And so it can be for you.

Random Thoughts:

1). Be re-vulnerable. Look – I created a word. Crash through the high walls. Allow vulnerability to live again. You’ll need to practice. High fences just don’t fall. You’ll need to consciously drive through them every day. I’ve learned to be open to and aware of those around me. I’m more charitable. I direct my anger toward evil entities. I drop people who suck my energy. I hug my daughter from somewhere beyond my heart.

vulnerable governor

2). Become re-acceptable. Of yourself. Who you were before you lived for the approval of others who held the power, but little substance. Through nurturing your own self-acceptance, you will become accepted by others. At least the “right others.” As Srini Rao writes and teaches in his best selling new book - The Art of Being Unmistakable: A Collection of Essays About Making a Dent in The Universe -

Accolades, awards, recognition and validation may never come. In addition, ironically, when you finally stop giving a shit about them, they seem to come in abundance. Be your own gatekeeper, tastemaker, and connoisseur of what matters. Do not choose yourself so the gatekeepers will choose you.

3). Seek re-energy. Living in the past saps energy. The present creates passion, excitement. It’s full of oxygen. Focus on a present moment. No matter how small. Step into it. You’re not your parents, your co-workers. The past does not define who you are right now at this moment.

“Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. … The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.”
Eckhart Tolle

4). Relish replenishment. Sure, investing is sexy. Financial media touts sexy all the time. Sell Apple, buy Tesla. Nothing sexy happens without the boring act of saving money, replenishing financial coffers. In the new year, increase your savings rate by 1 percent. Haven’t started? That’s the past. This is the present. Begin an auto-savings plan today. Now. Direct at the minimum, 1 percent of your take home pay into a savings account.

5). Cherish those who re-new. Who are the people who renew and revive you? You need more of them. You need to appreciate and fight for those who renew your spirit. Those you love. No matter the disagreements. If I love someone I tell them. Why hold back? Life is too short (especially in a zombie apocalypse).

family

6). Know when to re-unleash hell. It’s inevitable. Sometimes you will need to fight the enemy. You also need to know if you’re the enemy. Focus energies on what’s required to overcome obstacles. Roll a tank over your ego. Occasionally, that’s a challenge for The Governor.

Although he does try.

He’s got some work to do.

Noted.

governor tank

Look up.

A pale light glows brighter.

Dark clouds fade.

Self-redemption is yours for the taking.

Accept the past. You can’t change it.

It’s a prison.

Accept the present. It’s yours to take.

Now.

Step.

“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.”
Eckhart Tolle

Five Questions to Ask a Financial Adviser. Today. I Mean Right Now.

“He was annoyed with me after awhile. He said I asked too many questions.”

annoyed

It’s tough for me to imagine speaking these words to a client or anyone seeking guidance. I wouldn’t have the guts. Or the hubris.

Or the stupidity.

I wonder about (and I’m thankful) for complacency among some advisers. It allows me to continue to gain thoughtful, inquisitive clients who never feel that I’m annoyed by a passion to learn.

The noblest efforts we undertake as trusted financial partners are to listen, answer questions, validate good behaviors, empower improvement and communicate effectively to our audience.

How does a prospective client – One who has a genuine curiosity in her finances, a successful saver and investor, ask “too many questions?”

If you’ve been with an adviser long enough to feel comfortable together, or maybe you’re exploring a new financial relationship, asking questions should be encouraged.

There’s no such concept as “asking too many questions.” You query enough to satisfy your need for information requested. I’ve noticed how the more self-aware an individual is about their financial situation, the more questions that arise.

There’s no reason to feel intimated or stifled.

You’ve earned the right (and the money).

Be bold.

Frankly, investors are not inquisitive enough.

It’s time to ask the five questions: It would be a mistake not to.

1). What common mistakes should I avoid during my employer benefits enrollment period? Go ahead. Pick an adviser’s brain. Most important is to fully understand the importance of the disability and life insurance options available to you. Insurance is a topic employees tend to overlook. An adviser can help you narrow down how much coverage is required. According to the Social Security Administration, roughly 100 million workers are without disability insurance coverage. Astounding.

2). Should I opt for a high-deductible healthcare plan tied to a Health Savings Account? Depending on the health of your family, your history of seeking medical care, your tax bracket, it’s worth considering a healthcare plan with a higher deductible and to shelter pre-tax dollars into a Health Savings Account. The money set aside in a HSA can be used to pay the high deductible tax free and the remaining balance can accumulate tax-deferred every year (unlike a Flexible Savings Account which is more “use it or lose it.”) In addition, since an HSA is cost effective to administer, your employer most likely will contribute a specific dollar amount to bolster your HSA savings. For 2014, the HSA total contribution limit is $3,300 for individual, $6,550 for family. Tack on an additional $1,000 if you’re 55 or older.

3). Is it a good time to rebalance my portfolio? How? Seek to understand if and how an adviser actually follows a plan to sell high and buy low in a portfolio (which for most investors, is very difficult to do on their own). A strategy to rebalance on a regular basis is crucial to manage portfolio risk. Rebalancing will make you queasy: Selling what’s hot and purchasing what’s cold works against what your gut advises you to do. Begin with your 401(k) or retirement account first since there are no tax implications for trimming winners.

4). How do you incorporate my spouse, life partner and children in your planning for me? You don’t exist in a vacuum. An adviser should maintain a holistic approach to financial planning and that includes communicating with loved ones and teaching children how to be better stewards of money. The meetings, communication must be ongoing. At least annually.

5). What are your interests outside of investing? For me it’s writing, movies, short getaways. An adviser must seek balance to maintain perspective (and health). Additional questions – What kind of movies do you like? How about the books you read? Are you accessible on vacation? can arise. For me, clients are accessible to me when I’m on vacation. It’s a personal standard of service. If your adviser isn’t available, seek to understand who is during vacation time.

Questions are an integral part of any relationship. As a friend recently taught me – not asking them in a timely fashion can create resentment and anger.

nosy You’re not being nosy.

You’re no nag.

You’re seeking information to make an informed decision.

About a topic close to your heart.

Financial well being.

No questions asked.

The First Meeting with a Financial Adviser – 5 Signs to Cut and Run.

It’s frustrating, time consuming and intimidating to find the perfect financial professional.

It’s the first meeting (finally).

What signs should raise the hairs on the back of your neck?

hair back of nneck

First hair: Products are discussed. How can an adviser discuss products when they have no idea of your situation? The initial meeting is one of inquiry and discovery, not solution or product. It’s fine if you have a product-based question, other than that? No.

Second hair: Too talky. You are seeking an inquisitive, active listener. Not a talker. You should be doing most of the jaw boning, not your prospective adviser.

Third hair: Not enough questions. A good adviser is like Columbo in less-wrinkled clothing. Keep a detective’s eye out for open-ended questions which allow you to tell your story and share concerns.

columbo one Heck, if it’s a good adviser, forgive a messy tie.

Fourth hair: Limited eye contact. A new client recently told me about her interview experiences. “He appeared in a hurry, like we were cutting into his lunch. He didn’t look us in the eyes. He wasn’t engaged. He kept peeking at his watch.” Enough said.

Fifth hair: Not enough experience. Ok, experience isn’t everything. Advisers can get “stale.” Some stop learning because they’re used to doing things “their way.” Hey, financial services is an ever-changing business and your future financial partner better be up for the job.

Experience is important. You don’t want an adviser who gets spooked by bear markets or volatility. However, you must make sure a “seasoned” professional finds value in keeping current and has a passion for ongoing knowledge.

Take notes. It’s an interview. Ask for clarification on key topics discussed.

Remember – it’s your money.

You’re in control.

There are great advisers out there.

It’s only a matter of time before you find the right one.

heart Aw. Just aw.

Three Lines. Three Words. Three Lessons. Three Tips. Three Reasons to Believe.

Don’t worry. He won’t hurt you. Just sit there (three sentences).

Santa

Not sure why Santa scared me so much. Clowns frightened me. Women frighten me. Threes.

Scary happens in threes. Scary movie sagas frequently occur in threes, although many times I wonder why. The Godfather movies? Three. Don’t ask me why. Don’t see Godfather III. Abomination.

On occasion you need three signals to wake you, shake you, bake you – Three hammers hit you in the head, three lightning strikes. You cry, you deny, you wake up. Maybe you wake up. Most likely, you don’t wake up. Try. I try every day.

Why?

Because your brain forms protective layers. Three from what I’ve discovered about myself. As your mind tries to protect your heart. To get through to you, to others, you need to bust through the layers.

Thinking in threes, speaking in threes, can improve your life, possibly save it.

Everything you ever need to know can be learned in threes. Everything you ever need to communicate can be accomplished in threes.

Random Thoughts:

1). “Leave me alone. Go away. I mean it.” Use this for bad thoughts, bad people, bad ideas, bad anything. Sure, you can stop at leave me alone but it’s not enough. Go further. There is a force in threes.

2). I love you. Three actions prove it: I’ve been there for you in rough times, I’ve been there for you when you disappear and return, I’m there for you now that you’re gone again. Being there through bad times isn’t enough to prove you love someone. It’s through the challenging times, confusing times, the times when you want to let go. But you don’t. And you should.

3). All you need are three rules to be successful with money. Save more, spend less, be thankful for what you have. It’s not rocket science people. The financial services industry makes it more complicated, sexy, confusing, on purpose. Now you may need a coach to help you save more, spend less, be thankful. Most of the time it’s a failure to accomplish one of the three simple rules that upsets the game plan. Recently, I met with a distressed lady who saved, had no debt (and a beautiful home), but was not thankful and wanted more. I spent hours taking her through an inventory of all the gifts she’s been bestowed, most of them based on her good habits.

Try writing out your throughts in three sentences. Let me know if it works.

In 2000, I received a call from a doctor I didn’t know. I was at work. 1pm.

“Mr. R? Your mother is here at our hospital. She’s been ill. She’s about to die.”

“I can speak with her. What do I say? I’m not sure.”

“Tell her you love her. Forgive her for the bad things. Help her to move on.”

He handed me the phone receiver.

“Richard? Are you there? I’m sorry.”

“I love you mom. I forgive you for everything. Grandpa is waiting for you.”

I heard three breaths. Then nothing. Then a dial tone.

Threes. What an impact.

On everything.