Finding your financial prince in a pond of frogs

Finding your financial prince in a pond of frogs

Maria Cook

Entrusting your financial future to a so-called expert is often fraught with disaster. Trust me, I know. I have been burnt by investing in managed funds that had outperformed all others – that is, they outperformed until I invested in them. I have employed highly recommended financial planners, only to fall into the trap of an independent planner that encouraged investments in the share market with borrowed funds. My risk was their gain. I was paying fees based on the size of my investment. Guess who couldn’t lose in this scenario?

I have employed highly recommended financial planners, only to fall into the trap of an independent planner that encouraged investments in the share market with borrowed funds. My risk was their gain. I was paying fees based on the size of my investment. Guess who couldn’t lose in this scenario?

As an independent woman who likes and understands money I know the value of the saying, “It’s not how much you earn, it’s what you do with it that counts”.

Making your spare money work for you is the key to increasing wealth. It is virtually impossible to attain wealth as an employee, regardless of a high salary. Money makes money through investments in property, shares, and managed funds to name a few. The trouble is you can also lose, and lose big. Remember the Global Financial Crisis? I sure do!

As a professional woman, I also know it’s worth seeking expert opinion on the things I don’t know. After all, who wants to spend hours studying the stock market?

So how do you find the expert that is right for you? It’s a big question. Firstly, you don’t want to get it wrong. Just like finding your soulmate, the right partner is worth the wait. And you might have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince or princess.

Choosing the right financial planner is a bit like the dating game: you need to train your antenna to avoid the duds, and use your bad experiences to identify them. Mr/ Mrs Right will have the expertise you need as well as be honest and ethical. The perfect financial planner puts your needs before their own. They are someone who really listens to your wishes, and more importantly they educate you at each step of the way.

As for the frogs, there are some red flags you should be wary of. If you don’t understand the investment strategy, if the planner talks and doesn’t listen, or suggests strategies that are more attuned to their interests than yours, handle with care. And if it all sounds too good to be true, run away.

Your relationship with your financial planner should be a partnership. Just like a marriage, the best partners are those that truly understand and respect you – You want to find a partnership which is based on shared values, it is collaborative and filled with trust and regular communication.

I was working as a business coach when I first met Rik Arendsen, my current financial planner. He was gregarious, amusing and forthright. He was just starting out in his business and was passionate about investing. He actually gets really excited about money, shares and investing. The other thing that impressed me was that he was quite open about his knowledge gaps, and was willing to seek expert advice. That is a characteristic I live by myself and admire in others. I watched him grow his business over three years and I liked the way he treated people. I was in the market for a new financial planner when I noticed a friend had written a LinkedIn recommendation for Rik. I called my friend to discuss her experience and the rest is history.

For the past four years, my husband and I have entrusted our financial nest egg to Rik, whom we both view as our trusted adviser, and we are both very happy. As my husband and I have very different investment profiles, Rik has created two individual portfolios that reflect our differences.

Having been happily married for over 38 years, I know a little something about finding the right people in my life. My advice is to do your research, ask friends that are financially savvy for recommendations, check out LinkedIn and look for written endorsements. At the end of the day, go with your gut. Find someone who is prepared to truly know you, someone you like and can trust.

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