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The 3 T’s: A Framework to Know When to Hire a Financial Professional

For most people, the thought of hiring a financial advisor exists on the back burner, somewhere between going to the doctor for a check-up and reading that book their friend recommended.

It’s something they might think about doing but often delay because of a lack of immediate need and the time it takes to find one.

That all changes during a transition point. For many Americans, major life transitions or financial events cause them to begin their search for a financial advisor, usually from a place of urgency and critical need.

There is nothing wrong with this – but I would like to offer a different framework that you can use to decide when is the right time to hire a financial advisor. This is a much more proactive approach that can help guide you to the right amount of financial assistance in your life. Ideally, long before reaching a point of necessity such as a divorce, forced early retirement, death of a loved one, or disability.

The framework we will discuss is the 3 T’s:

  • Time
  • Talent
  • Temperament

Time

When deciding whether to hire a financial professional, the biggest question to ask yourself is two-fold:

  1. Do you currently have the time needed to dedicate to your financial situation? 
  2. If yes, then do you want to dedicate that time to your financial situation?

The time you need to spend on your financial situation will differ depending on your unique stage of life and financial complexity. Often, the amount of time will ebb and flow with upcoming changes or decisions.

If you’ve got the time, be sure to decide whether you want to allocate it to your finances. For many, they would rather spend that extra time with their family or pursuing different hobbies or passions.

If you are on the fence about whether you have the time to dedicate to your household finances, consider the key findings from a 2019 Motley Fool Study analyzing the average American household:

  • 48% of Americans want to be financially prepared for the future, but 97% aren’t making time to do so.
  • Only 3% of Americans spend time on household financial management on an average day.
  • On average, Americans spend less than two minutes a day managing their household finances.

The findings show that despite the good intentions of many Americans and the desire to be financially prepared for the future, the average household fails to dedicate the time needed to adequately prepare. 

If you feel that you don’t have the time OR you have the time, but would rather spend it with your family, or working to advance in your career, then it might be a good idea to hire a financial advisor. 

Talent

At the end of the day, you need to decide whether you have the skills necessary to manage your household finances. You might be an excellent attorney, accountant, nurse, or doctor – but when it comes to financial planning, a different skill set is needed.

Are you familiar with the various retirement accounts, the pros and cons of each, which are the right for you, and ultimately where you should be saving your retirement nest egg?

If you need to rebalance your 401k or downshift to a less aggressive asset allocation as you approach retirement age, is that something you are comfortable and confident navigating?

Financial planning is a skill just like anything else. The more time you spend doing it, learning, researching, and reading – the better you become. 

A good financial advisor will help you objectively navigate the many complexities of your financial situation. They will provide you with peace of mind and confidence knowing that your financial bases have been covered. They will help you adjust to inevitable legislation changes and understand exactly how they will impact your financial plan.

Now, let’s explore the last T.

Temperament

Everything that financial management lacks in physical demand, it makes up for in emotional demand. For many, the desire to have someone to turn to in times of financial uncertainty can be well worth the price of a good financial advisor.

When deciding whether you should manage your finances or hire a financial advisor, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you enjoy managing money and analyzing the different options available?
  • Can you objectively look at your finances or does emotion cloud your judgment?
  • Do you feel secure and confident navigating a recession or stock market crash?
  • Do you have the right attitude and outlook? Are you thinking long term or do you find yourself focused on a shorter time horizon?

A true financial professional has systems in place to counterbalance the inevitable human emotions that you might experience. For example, when certain areas of the stock market are getting overheated, a financial advisor might have rebalancing protocols in place to automatically sell high, and buy other parts of the portfolio that are under-performing – effectively selling high and buying low. 

This level of objectivity can help an investor achieve success over the long run but can be difficult for the average investor. For most, the thought of selling the winning stocks and buying the losing stocks can feel backward and scary. This is why it can be so important to evaluate your temperament and attitude towards financial planning to determine when to hire a financial advisor. 

Final Thoughts

While most Americans will wait to hire a financial advisor until they are in a financial transition or major life change, it can be beneficial to use the 3 T’s as a framework to pro-actively seek professional advice.

Look at how you want to spend your time, consider your talents in the area of personal finance, and evaluate your temperament to help you decide when it might be time to hire a financial professional.

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