These are challenging financial times, and it can be overwhelming….
How to eat an Elephant…..
An Asian Elephant weighs 5000 pounds….
The average American eats about 2000 pounds of food a year.
That’s the average, some will eat more.
Now I’m not suggesting you go and eat an elephant….it’s a metaphor…bear with me.
If I pointed at an elephant and said you could eat it in two years, you’d probably think I was bonkers.
But if you broke that down into two years of food (in weight!)…..it would not be too far off.
What’s my point?
My point is simple.
Each day we eat regular meals – which we can cope with. Depending on the cooking – perhaps even enjoy.
But we find some things in life rather daunting. Our big problems are like elephants.
“That elephant in the room” – I’m sure you’re familiar
And we’re perfectly happy to sub-contract our “elephants” to someone else.
Invariably that makes perfect sense. It’s on a need to know basis and we don’t need to know.
If you’re sick you should see a doctor and if your teeth hurt….you know what I mean.
We’re happy to pass our elephant over to someone else to deal with because they’re the experts.
However, investing is an elephant you should know something about.
If you’ve got the skills to make enough money to get someone to manage it, then you’ve got a brain big enough to understand what they’re up to.
I’m not talking about the boring stuff like tax planning. But most investing is really common sense.
Many people will sweat blood and tears to make the money only to pass it over to someone else without paying a huge amount of attention as to what they’re doing with it.
They’ll spend hours agonising over the purchase of a car, but minutes before deciding who is going to manage their money.
“I don’t know anything about finance” is viewed as a reasonable answer – but it isn’t.
I’m not suggesting you don’t use a financial adviser. All I am suggesting is that you think about what you want. Set some goals. And make sure they stick to them.
Especially in these challenging times. A lot of financial advisers know nothing about gold.
Now maybe a good time to find out what they do know about the yellow metal.
Here are a few questions that you should be able to answer.
1) What are my financial goals and is my financial advisor aware of these?
- Are they long or short term?
- Liquid or Illiquid assets
- High or low risk
- Income or capital gains focused
2) How is my financial adviser remunerated?
- Is the remuneration in line with my goals?
- Is there an incentive for them to suggest certain types of investments or take higher risks?
3) Why am I using them and are they delivering?
4) Are they protecting my portfolio if there’s a market correction – and how are they doing this?
Clearly there’s no right or wrong answer. But a good financial adviser (and there are plenty of these around), will want to know what you want to achieve and invest accordingly. And you should know enough to challenge them – keep them on their toes.
Personally, I like real assets. Tangible things such as gold that you can touch. Real estate and agriculture are other areas that spring to mind. That’s not to say bonds and equities are bad – far from it. But you should have at least a basic understanding of what’s happening to YOUR money.
It’s not an elephant, so don’t treat it like one.