As a young child, I remember tiptoeing into the kitchen, secretly snagging the scissors from the drawer and taking them to the bathroom where I did a number on my hair. At 6 years old, I was clearly the most qualified to decide that a new style would be a fun change. In my mind, I was the one who could see and do the best for myself. Of course, the fact that I could only see the front of my hair, not the back, was completely irrelevant. Thankfully, a haircut is temporary and this one ended up being a non-consequential aspect of my elementary school days.
Fast forward a few decades where “Do It Yourself” (DIY) is the hottest idea in a broad range of topics, including home renovation and finances. Based on my experience of watching way too many episodes on HGTV, I’ve rarely seen homeowners complete a successful renovation on their own without two things: unforeseen obstacles and the help of a professional. Clearly, gutting a bathroom or renovating a kitchen is an example of a project with lots of decisions and long-lasting implications where missteps can linger for years.
Similarly, it is not uncommon to see folks who are attempting something much more difficult – yet much more significant and impactful – on their own: their financial planning. The investing public is bombarded with daily updates on useless and generalized information by the media. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day market commentary and broad-based advice and think that this will replace the need for an advisor.
I frequently come across individuals who are desperately trying to manage all aspects of their financial lives on their own. Often, these folks are highly educated and have prestigious positions. But is that enough? The strategy put into place regarding investments, insurance, cash flow, taxes and estate plans has an extremely significant and everlasting impact. Is being smart and professionally successful the same as being an expert equipped with clear, unbiased views about how to proactively decide on all of the components that go into a financial plan?
And just as important, are DIY-ers really able to devote the numerous hours required to effectively implement, monitor and update that plan? Life doesn’t happen in nice, neat columns. Believe it or not, Congress does make changes to tax and estate laws. And it still surprises some that markets don’t produce linear returns. These and other factors mean that financial plans one sets in place must be updated frequently. Most people either admit that they don’t have the time to devote to this, or if they do have time, they would rather delegate these sorts of decisions to someone they know and trust so that they can spend time doing things they enjoy.
In conclusion, I don’t equate the decision to manage one’s own finances to trimming one’s hair or even a DIY home renovation. I equate financial planning to something as serious as having surgery. Would you really want to do surgery on yourself? Do you really feel capable and equipped and unbiased enough to take the necessary steps, without error, to operate on yourself? Financial decisions that you make today have tremendous and everlasting impact on the overall well-being of current and future financial situations for you and your family. Hundreds of individuals and families have trusted Woodward Financial Advisors to be their financial expert and advocate, for they realize they simply cannot or should not “do it themselves.”