Should I do my own financial plan?
You are good at what you do for a living. You are successful by most standards and are keen to keep developing your own skills and capabilities so that you can drive your business or professionalism forward. You know your way around a spreadsheet and understand what a balance sheet is, in fact when it comes to the daily management accounts, you have got it licked. So its not unreasonable to assume that you can handle your own financial planning. After all, why spend money to get a financial planner to tell you what you already know?
Admittedly, this isn’t something I hear a lot, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t being thought or said by those that don’t make a bee-line for my front door. Most people are capable of learning to do their own financial planning, in the same way that most people could learn to be their own physician. Most of the time we are perfectly able to self-diagnose and take over-the-counter medicine for minor ailments without need to bother the GP. However there are moments when we should seek qualified advice and sometimes that will result in being referred to a specialist. Financial planning is no different.
Most people are perfectly able to manage their day-to-day budget and build some savings. Many are quite comfortable with completing tax returns for the straight-forward stuff. However a financial plan is not about the ordinary day-to-day “stuff” it is about helping you get what you want from your life by assessing what you have, what you need to have and helping you get there as efficiently and effectively as possible. There are lots of moving parts to a financial plan and some come and go, depending on the legislation and rules of the day. We aren’t talking about a simple goal “I want £200,000 by the end of 2025” but a complex interaction between your values and reality.
In sport, even the top sportsmen and women have a coach. What does this tell us? that there is always room for improvement? a problem shared? someone to motivate? provide discipline? the list is probably fairly lengthy – but having a supportive “partner” critique and help improve is how I approach this. Because “money” is something we all handle, (for many of our clients at a very “high level”) we can often think that financial planning must be easy… a bit like painting by numbers. Select your own financial products that appear to be the right ones, pick the top performing or top selling funds and you’re done right?
I genuinely believe that most people are capable of doing their own financial planning, but with the caveat that they need to put in the hours of study acquiring the skills and knowledge required – like anything else. However even with these skills and knowledge, one vital ingredient is also required – experience. Take the example of being a surgeon – knowledge is one thing, but on-the-job experience is vital and indeed if you were having surgery, you’d want someone that did this pretty much all day, each day, each week, not someone that does the occassional surgery. Things that are important, that matter, need an expert hand.
Above is an image of some restoration work (on the right) carried out on an ancient mosaic (the left image is the original) held by the Hatay Archeological Museum in Turkey. This recently became widely reported in the media due to the obvious flaws in the “restoration”. Unfortunately, those doing the restoration are blaming others. The question for you – is it good enough?