A question I’m asked regularly is, “Do you really need a financial adviser?”
Many people assume that, because I’m a firm believer in broadly passive investing and an advocate of direct-to-consumer services, like Nutmeg and Wealth Horizon in the UK and Betterment and Wealthfront in the US, my answer would be “No”.
In fact, although it’s true that not all of us need an adviser, it’s my view that everyone would benefit from having proper financial advice.
The problem is that the majority of advisers are more akin to sales reps. They think their role is to choose the best funds (usually actively managed) to invest your money in and then identify other funds to switch to when, almost inevitably, the returns are disappointing.
No, proper financial advice – or holistic financial planning as I prefer to call it – is primarily about working out who you are and what you want out of life, ensuring that you have enough money to achieve your goals without it running out. It’s also about making sure that you don’t spend your old age regretting not doing the things you wanted to do. Only at this point, after all the important groundwork has been done, should the adviser even discuss with you how to invest your money.
Someone who understands this better than almost anyone is Michael Kitces. As well as being an adviser himself for a firm in Maryland, he also advises other advisers on how to provide their clients with the very highest standards of service.
In this video for Index Fund Advisors, I asked Michael to explain how to go about finding someone you feel comfortable entrusting your investments with.