If you’re on social media like we are, you probably see a lot of posts for crazy “holidays.” According to the National Day Calendar, we were supposed to celebrate National Chewing Gum Day on Sept. 30. And National Hot Mulled Cider Day. And National Mud Pack Day. And National Love People Day. And National Podcast Day. If you were able to spend Monday listening to podcasts, chewing gum and drinking mulled cider while wearing mud packs and writing love letters to everybody you know, congratulations! We can’t wait to see what you do with National Produce Misting Day, National Taco Day (we’ll be celebrating that one!), or National Hair Day, all of which also occur this week.
Though most of these “days” are just for fun, some really do highlight a need for awareness and action around an important cause. This week, for example, financial planners around the world are trying to get your attention for World Financial Planning Day, a global effort created by financial regulators and the global financial planning community to call attention to the value of working with competent, ethical financial planners who place their clients’ interests first. Here in the U.S., October is actually Financial Planning Month – an opportunity for Americans to focus on ways to improve their financial well-being, including working with an adviser to develop a plan.
Why is awareness of financial planning so important? Recent research by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) highlights the problem: Americans feel stressed about their finances. Only 34% say they feel positive about their current relationship with money, while 33% characterize their relationship as “worrisome,” and 45% say it’s “stressful.”
Financial stress for Americans isn’t new, and it isn’t likely to go away, thanks to a few critical drivers. First, our population is aging at an unprecedented rate. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older could nearly double – from 52 million last year to 95 million by 2060. We’ve also shifted from a culture of defined benefits (in which companies offered pensions to their workers) to one of defined contributions (in which employees are now responsible for their retirement savings). Government programs, such as Social Security, are helpful, but may not be enough to ensure a comfortable retirement. And Americans, who are more confused than ever by the number of complex financial products available to them, just don’t know whom to trust when it comes to creating a cost-effective, efficient, and tax-friendly plan to achieve financial well-being.
How should you celebrate Financial Planning Month? If you’re already working with a financial adviser and you are confident in your trajectory toward your financial goals, you might not need to do much. Chances are, your adviser is already working for you in ways you may not see – making sure your investments are diversified globally and rebalanced as needed, as well as keeping you from using your emotions to direct your investments.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, October is usually a time to plan for the upcoming year. You could use Financial Planning Month to consider not only your company’s finances, but your own personal finances. In my book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Well-Being, I discuss the specific needs of entrepreneurs, and how best to find an “interpretive” adviser – one who studies your situation, applies a robust process, develops recommendations, and guides you toward the best options.
If you don’t yet work with a financial adviser, October is a great time to explore the benefits of working with one. NAPFA and its fee-only network (of which AMDG Financial is a member) lists advisers who provide unbiased and objective financial advice under a strict fee-only compensation model. Like the other advisers in the directory, AMDG Financial does not sell financial products, and we don’t accept commissions. We are also obligated to place our clients’ interests above our own, and those of our firm, when providing advice. (When determining whether to work with an adviser, be sure to ask questions to clarify the relationship. In fact, NerdWallet offers some great questions here).
To all of us at AMDG Financial, every month is financial planning month, because we’ve seen how financial planning can help people feel more confident about their finances and less worried about the future. When we work with clients, we use a process we call Fiduciary GPSSM, which enables potential clients to see how we work and what our recommendations would be, before they commit to working with us long-term. It’s a transparent, “real world” way to demonstrate how we integrate tax, financial and investment strategies to help our clients achieve their goals.
So, even as you’re celebrating National Golf Lover’s Day or National LED Light Day this month, we hope you’ll take a moment to consider how financial planning might benefit you and your family. If we can be of assistance, please contact us. We’d love to help.