Guest Mariko Wilcox shares why you should not be afraid of her, or numbers for that matter…

There’s a problem in financial services, I’ll admit it, Wall Street and the mortgage industry helped create this problem (Think The Wolf of Wall Street, the Big Short). The problem is mistrust, if someone says they work as a planner or a financial advisor, people automatically think two things, 1) I have to pay them and 2)They won’t have my best interest in mind because they’re chasing a commission. Luckily, both are not true.

I equate financial planning to nutrition counseling. We all know that we need to eat better, we all put it off, but we’re all better off when we eat right and treat our bodies well. Money is the same, we all use it; we put off planning; but we always feel better when we have an emergency fund, have our family protected; watch our retirement grow.

The solution to this is quite simply, ask people what it is they exactly do, it can range from comprehensive financial planning (everything in your financial life) to stock brokers, to insurance specialists, to the dude that shows up at work to tell you how your 401(k) is performing .

It should not be uncomfortable to ask them how they are paid, it’s a very legitimate question.  When you ask how someone is compensated, you can deduce if their interest is aligned with yours.  Keep an open mind, if you believe that everybody you meet is going to sell you something, that is a very difficult way to live because quite frankly, we can’t buy anything without someone to sell it to us.  If we want to buy something that fits our life, we need a human.  If we’re ok with pre-set solutions, a computer and artificial intelligence will do the trick.  But I have heard that Millennials believe they are unique, so how could an algorithm understand your special circumstance?

Next time you are with your loved ones or at a dinner party, ask people what they are doing about their futures. It will surprise you. Then ask people who they are working with. If they’ve had a good experience, they will always be happy to refer you to their advisor, simply ask your friends who they work with, the same way you would ask for a recommendation for a doctor, attorney, handyman, etc.

Most people don’t know that planning doesn’t cost anything. The only people who charge for financial counseling are wealth management advisors who are licensed to be fee-based. Usually you need a minimum of investible assets to sit down with them, think $250k, which is a barrier to entry for a young person just starting out. Most life insurance firms allow you to sit down with someone free of cost and don’t require minimums.

So far, you shouldn’t be afraid of me because I don’t charge you anything; I am as non-threatening as a nutritionist; and I really want young people to learn about financial literacy.  Here’s why.

Most millennials I sit down with are concerned with the following:

  • Paying down student debt
  • Building credit
  • Buying their first home

Most Millennials tell me they were never taught this in school nor from their parents.

Does this describe you?

If so, make it a 3 month goal to sit down with a planner.  Have an open mind that you’re going to be introduced things like covering your risk (risk of losing your income, risk of losing money in the stock market, risk of dying unexpectedly); talking about your final wishes; talking about taxes.  These are all things that affect your financial future and have to be considered beyond just saving or stockpiling your 401(k).

Penultimate note, if you get stock options at work, make sure you are spreading your risk among other taxable vehicles.

Final note, every part of financial planning stems from your budget.  If you’re not willing to take a look at how much it takes to run your lifestyle, versus how much money is coming into your household, planning will be frustrating for you.

While the internet is a great tool, there are some old fashioned things that still work, namely building personal relationships.  A planner can help you talk through your personal situation and will meet with you annually.  If you are still not convinced, here are some resources where you can get a tremendous amount of DIY info:

Bottom line: The most successful people in the world have multiple advisors, surround yourself with them.

Do you have more questions about planning for your future?

Text me, we should talk.

About the Author:

Mariko Wilcox – I swim, telemark ski, mountain bike, have visited 38 countries on 5 continents and have a new obsession with learning to scuba dive!

Mariko Wilcox is a Financial Advisor who is impassioned about communicating the concept of financial security.  As a career changer who brings upper level management and small business experience to her practice, Mariko helps individuals, families and small business owners achieve their personal, professional and financial goals.  She has conviction in promoting the Northwestern Mutual planning philosophy, which focuses on solving risk-based needs first to create a solid financial foundation, for a lifetime of planning and success.

Mariko graduated Cum Laude in Economics from Connecticut College and has a Masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas.