Why Hire a Financial Advisor?

Over the years, most of the Daily Insights that I’ve written are about investing, financial planning or, less frequently, economics.

I don’t think I’ve ever written about the people hire financial advisors – mostly, because I can’t come up with much of an answer other than a generic statement about ‘peace of mind’ or describe why my most recent client hired me.

Now, though, I’ll have a better answer, thanks to reading a terrific book called ‘Advice that Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice that People Will Follow.’  The book is by Dr. Moira Somers, a neuropsychologist that specializes in financial psychology and financial change.

I knew I would like the book, in part, because the first sentence in the introduction includes the phrase, ‘Most people are mildly crazy when it comes to money.  I can say ‘crazy’ with some authority.  I am, after all, a psychologist.’

There are many terrific elements in the book, but the part that I thought I would share was a list of 10 reasons why people hire advisors.  Mind you, she didn’t write one of those ridiculous ‘list’ articles like ‘9 Reasons Why People Read List Articles.’

No, Somers wrote a full chapter on the subject, and I’m turning her thoughtful, supported reasons into a list for your convenience.  Although she wrote a great chapter, I think this list is pretty self-explanatory.

With no further ado, here’s the list.  See what resonates with you.

  1. To reduce complexity,
  2. To take action,
  3. To save time,
  4. To offload unpleasantness,
  5. To make someone else happy (or get them off your back),
  6. To increase confidence,
  7. To make better trade-offs.
  8. To receive encouragement, validation,
  9. To have someone to blame, and
  10. To feel safer.

I have clients that have hired me for at least one of those reasons, and most have hired me for a few of them.  It’s not just me either, I think every Portfolio Manager at Acropolis could look at their list of clients and the list above and draw pretty clear connections.

Having been in this business for nearly 20 years, I’m not surprised that investment expertise and financial planning techniques are not on the list – because those are table stakes at this point.

I do believe we do a better job at investing and financial planning than a lot of other professionals, but it’s such a high level, that most clients can’t tell the difference.  That’s not an insult, I can’t tell the difference between really good and excellent lawyers, doctors, mechanics or first violinists.

If any of the items on the list strike a chord with you, or if you think something important is missing, drop me a line. I’m interested to hear what you have to say.