Do Investors Even Want Professional Advice?

By James E. Wilson via

Most investors don’t really want financial advice, they just want to be heard. They want someone to hear about their aspirations, priorities, and fears. Sure, in my view, most individuals need advice, but that doesn’t mean they want it, or even more important, will act on it. A fair amount of what passes for financial advice is actually helping individuals distinguish between the “nice to have” and “must have” categories.

Settled in Advance

Over the past decade or so I have witnessed a growing problem in the realm of financial advice…adherence. Dr. Moira Somers, in her excellent book Advice That Sticks, describes how “non-adherence” in both medicine and financial planning can be traced back to a common root…lack of emotional connectivity.

The objective, medical or financial, has to be something people actually want, not just something the physician or adviser wants for them. It has to have meaning and importance to the person or it won’t adhere, it won’t happen.

There is just one financial issue that falls into the “must have” category…planning and saving for retirement. We often listen to clients rationalize decisions to buy the beach house, the fancy car or a laundry list of other “nice of have” items.

All that is fine, IF, and only if, sufficient dollars are being saved for retirement. You see, retirement isn’t equivalent to other financial issues. It’s far bigger…because it has to be settled and solved in advance.

Retirement Isn’t Optional

Some investors, and even some advisers, downplay retirement as nothing more than a quaint notion from the past. I strongly disagree with that perspective.

Let’s be clear, most people won’t be able, either physically or mentally, to work productively until they die. Therefore, retirement isn’t optional. You can’t pay for it out of current earnings since you likely won’t have earnings. Worse still, it’s much more expensive than you think.

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