I fired my financial advisor. That was meant to be a somewhat provocative, just like WCI's Fire Your Financial Advisor course.
Part 1 covered the license designations an FA can and should have.
Part 2 covered how FAs should get paid.
Johanna and I separated after about two years of working together. Before I go into why, I thought I would first discuss why a financial blogger would hire one in the first place. I mean, if I am giving information shouldn't I know what I am doing and not need one?
Why I Hired a Financial Advisor
Curiosity … and blog research!
I noticed that the other finance blogs were mainly (perhaps all?) staunch DIY and anti-FA. Curiously, many also give advice about financial advisors yet have never worked with a true financial advisor or planner. So, I became curious and thought working with one would be great research for my blog and I may learn a thing or two!
Afraid to make any more big mistakes
I finished residency at age 38 with ~$200,000 in student loans and barely $1,000 in retirement accounts. That was a huge hill to climb. I could not afford to make any more big financial mistakes if I ever wanted to “retire”.
Things were getting serious with M. Although I felt pretty comfortable managing my own money, managing our money made me feel a bit uneasy as making mistakes would now affect two instead one.
What I Loved About Having a Financial Advisor
During the time that I worked with a financial advisor, I actually realized there were some great benefits. Here's what I loved:
Systematically going over our financial houses
The part of reviewing finances that takes the longest (at least for us) is gathering lots of important documents, scanning them, then uploading them into a secure website for them to review. These include all of our insurance policies, retirement plans, etc.
Our planner made sure we were adequately insured. Perhaps one of the most important things we accomplished was getting our estate plan done: wills, power of attorneys, and health care proxies. Too often this becomes a non-urgent to-do item that never gets done and then it is too late.
I was unemployed for about 16 weeks during my maternity leave. Additionally, I was freaking out about not bringing in any money while I watched my checking account only go down. Lots of impulse shopping on amazon.com didn't help either. Perhaps it was all postpartum hormones but Johanna had to talk me down a few times. Having someone you trust say “you will be ok” is and was priceless.
The big picture
We discussed our goals and dreams. After all the information gathering, we received snazzy reports and graphs comparing different scenarios (renting vs. buying, etc). I also learned that we would and could reach financial independence a lot sooner than I thought.
Why I Fired My Financial Advisor
I guess you could say I am a true DIYer. Honestly, I love creating and updating spreadsheets with our numbers. I love crunching the numbers. And I am comfortable managing our money.
Our FA custodied some of our accounts and I did not like not being able to manage them myself. I suspect most people who hire FAs want to delegate these tasks. And perhaps lastly, I drank the FIRE Kool-Aid. We are currently optimizing and minimizing our expenses to reach FIRE. All of these factors combined meant that it was time for me to fire my financial advisor.
What Should You Do?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to money. Some people prefer to DIY their own finances. Other people choose to work with financial advisors.
There are so many variables to consider when choosing which path to take. If you do decide to work with an advisor, make sure you pick an advisor that you can trust. Working with a fee-only financial advisor is one way to ensure that your planner has your best interests in mind. Also, remember that your relationship with that advisor doesn't have to last forever.
What did you think? Were you surprised that I fired my financial advisor? Have you worked with a financial advisor? What worked and didn't work?