Are Investment Advisors Managing Your Money without a Plan?

I sat in on a webinar yesterday designed for investment advisors looking to build their business. It was offered by a large financial firm interested in building brand loyalty within the industry by providing helpful tips to advisors. I applaud the effort but cringe at some of the content.

The general gist of the meeting was about treating clients as you would like to be treated…talking less and listening more, doing something above and beyond for special clients, etc. But, it was the slide pictured above that really got me.

The slide seems to show that while the public is clamoring for investment plans, the advisors are either keeping them all to themselves or not developing them at all. My question is: how in the world do you tell someone how to invest their money if you have no plan – or worse yet, don’t understand the client’s plan?

Invest Your Money to Reach Your Goals

Your assets are not simply a pot of cash to be divided among several investments as the advisor sees fit – there are long-term investments and short-term investments, as well as everything in-between, and there is no magic formula for everyone that states how assets should be divided among them. The magic is in what you envision for your financial future – your goals drive any investment plan. Assets that you may need in the next few years, for something like a down payment on a home or your next car, should be invested in short-term assets, meaning they are more accessible and the value is not expected to fluctuate as much as a longer-term asset.

Saving for a second career before retirement? Depending on how far away this is, it may mean putting your assets in longer-term investment vehicles that will grow in value and support you when you’re ready.

Planning to pass assets on to your children and grandchildren as part of your legacy planning? Well, I hope that is very long-term planning, and definitely deserves a completely different set of parameters to invest it, including reviewing current and future tax implications.

The fact is that there is really no way to direct your investment decisions without truly understanding what you’d like to use your assets for in the future. Make sure that when you walk into an investment advisor’s office you have a clear understanding of your financial priorities and goals and that your advisor understands them completely and uses them to build your investment plan.

If you need help finding a comprehensive financial planner, check out the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standard’s (CFP®) consumer website (including “search for a planner” capability) at


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