DIY Or Call The Professional?
Regardless of the service area, we grapple with variations of this question all the time, whether it’s taking care of that nagging knee pain, fixing the dripping faucet, or doing your own taxes. A good first step is asking yourself three simple questions:
- Do I have the baseline knowledge necessary to complete the job?
- Do I have the time to devote to the task?
- Do I have the desire to spend my time doing this?
I like to think of myself as pretty handy around the house. I grew up on a farm. I know my way around a tool chest. But let’s be honest, I’m most definitely NOT in the same league as the folks that are working with those tools on a daily basis. However, even knowing this, I usually end up trying the DIY route and getting halfway through the sink repair, with parts strung all over the kitchen floor… and give up. Defeatedly, I call in the expert to fix my mess after squandering an entire Saturday afternoon. The plumber inevitably comes in and fixes the issue, with astonishing ease, in about 30 minutes.
Needless to say, I’m learning to just call in the professional right away for any repairs that require more than a basic Google search.
I'm also pleasantly surprised by how often the professionals go above and beyond, fixing something that I didn’t even know needed it – and doing so for a reasonable difference in price (often free). That’s additional value that I could not have delivered myself. Time and again, if I would have just taken the time upfront to do my research and appropriately assess the situation, I would have made the call right away.
It’s rare that I have regretted a decision to make the call to the professional.
In the case of wealth management, financial planning, or investment advice, I think it’s similar. A competent financial advisor can add significant value to your situation and allow you to claw back precious time in the day to spend with your family or work on your business.
At Dakota Coast Capital, we find that there are three common family scenarios that are typically worth the time to do your research, reach out to a financial professional, and obtain an independent analysis:
- The Family in Transition
- The Family Business Owner
- The Family Steward
While far from an all-encompassing list, these folks can usually benefit most from the services that a competent, respectable comprehensive financial planner can provide.
The Family in Transition
We’ve all been there. You “wake up” and have found yourself in a brand-new family (or career) situation. You are suddenly overwhelmed with the new reality of your – hopefully exciting – life development. Often, the financial aspects of your new circumstances are (rightfully) a secondary thought but prove to eventually initiate some undesirable anxiety. Having a new baby, getting married, moving to a new city, changing careers, retiring, dealing with the loss or disability of a loved one… they all bring their own unique financial challenges.
For example, the joy of welcoming a new baby to the family also comes with a slew of new considerations, including:
- Ensuring you have an emergency fund for the unexpected
- Adjusting your spending budget for childcare, groceries, and medical costs
- Updating your estate plan and insurance coverages in case of tragedy
- Starting a plan to fund your child’s education
These are just a few, among many, worthy aspirations for freshly minted parents to consider implementing after a new bundle of joy arrives.
How do you determine where to start? As we recently stated in Fatherly: How to Manage Your Money After Kids, it’s critical to take a step back after an important life event and take inventory of your whole financial picture and then develop a plan that appropriately balances the resources that it takes to accomplish all of the goals and dreams that you have for your financial future.
Having assistance from an objective third party who has experience helping folks who have encountered similar circumstances could help to ensure your reach those goals during these types of life changes.
The Family Business Owner
The job never truly stops, as any small business owner can attest. However, that’s also part of the excitement of guiding the strategic direction of a business. Leading and developing your workforce, managing your cash flow, and evaluating your next business development opportunity all occupy your working hours (and often beyond). Your evenings and weekends are filled with reading articles from Harvard Business Review or your favorite trade/industry resource and internal brainstorming sessions at the local coffee shop. You are trying desperately to maintain a semblance of your personal life and spend as much quality time as possible with your family, seemingly never finding quite enough. You always have challenging questions on your mind:
- How do we grow sensibly without compromising the foundation of the business?
- Are we offering the appropriate employee benefit and retirement plan options?
- How do I coordinate my company’s financials with my own personal financial situation?
In short, the complex set of challenges that come with being a family business owner make taking time out of your busy schedule to review (or create) your personal financial plan with a trusted professional all the more important. Often, business owners have much of their net worth tied up in the thriving company, which may expose them to some disproportionate concentration risk. Your eggs may all be in one basket, as they say.
A comprehensive financial planner can help you work through strategies to diversify your asset base, develop a plan to mitigate the personal risk exposure of your business venture, and with an eye toward the future, provide expertise on developing an eventual exit or succession plan to fund your retirement.
The Family Steward
Your position of patriarch or matriarch of a successful family is often a financially complex undertaking. You may be overwhelmed with juggling all the different accounts, evaluating investment opportunities, or delicately handling differences in opinion among family members. You may just be ready to delegate some (or all) of those items to a trusted professional and free up your time for something better.
While a comprehensive financial planner can be helpful in many situations, hiring one tends to be especially beneficial when you have complex issues or questions to navigate. Complicated issues like multi-generational and legacy planning, appropriately balancing the financial planning for your personal needs and your business venture(s), or efficiently structuring your retirement distributions so that your family’s nest egg leaves a legacy beyond your lifetime requires more in-depth professional insight.
Coordination across professional disciplines for complex planning items is critical under these circumstances. Having multiple independent perspectives can make all the difference in ensuring the success of your family legacy. You’ll likely want to include at least a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, a CPA, and an attorney with estate planning expertise. (Questions to ask, red flags to look for, and ways to increase your chances of building a competent, cross-discipline advisory team will be a topic for another day.)
Can You Relate?
As is the case with my plumber, a comprehensive financial planner can crucial guidance to situations like these and allow you to claw back precious time in the day to spend with your family or work on your business.
However, selecting an advisor is a complex decision that requires thorough research and ultimately takes a leap of faith to trust someone with partnering in your financial life. Moreover, determining the actual value that a planner can provide often takes some time. It's not always as immediately apparent as a fixed sink. The long-term nature of many financial goals – such as saving appropriately and investing prudently – predicate this.
That being said, a respectable, knowledgeable financial planner should be able to demonstrate their value to you in a tangible way before you make any ongoing commitment. If they don’t satisfy your expectations, walk away. Move on and interview another planner or continue with the DIY route until you find someone you trust who does meet your expectations.
The most important thing is just taking the initiative to do the research into finding an advisor who is a good fit for your family’s specific circumstances in the first place.
If you think that we could be helpful to your family, please feel free to reach out to Dakota Coast Capital. We are happy to offer complimentary initial consultations or 2nd opinions on your current financial situation.