Finally Met With a Financial Adviser

Well, after 46 years of doing it on my own, I thought I’d take advantage of my company’s program that has financial advisers come around to each campus to meet with employees for a free consultation. I’ve never actually sat down and met with someone to review our finances before so this was kind of a big step. I guess I was more comfortable sharing it with everyone on the Internet instead. While I’ve felt good about our overall circumstances, I’ve often found myself second guessing what we are doing and wondering if we should do something different. As most PF bloggers will tell you, it’s best to seek out the advice of a “fee only” financial adviser/planner and I’ve just never felt like I wanted to spend the money to do that for fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer me too much advice and I wouldn’t get my money’s worth. This financial adviser is not paid on any recommendations he gives us (He’s basically just paid a fee to talk with employees) so I felt pretty good about listening to what he had to say.

So, last week I made an appointment to meet with “John” for 30 minutes in the building that I work in. Prior to the meeting I had made a quick spreadsheet that showed each of our investment accounts and how much we have in each stock, index fund etc. I wanted John to get a good view of how we have our assets spread out because I think that’s the main area that I could use some assistance. I wasn’t expecting any huge discoveries, mainly because I’ve been using the automated tools available in my 401K plan as a baseline and have followed the general strategy that’s discussed on personal finance sites to use low cost index funds for the majority of your portfolio. I’ve never actually changed my allocations based on the 401k automated tool recommendations because they usually only tell me to adjust each position by a few percentage points. So, when I met with John, I wasn’t surprised to hear him say that everything looked good and that I should just keep chugging along with what I’m doing. We talked about tax bucketing (which we’ve been doing by investing in pretax, after tax and ROTH accounts), various investments that might be worth a look, and then spent a bit of time talking about the overall economy and geopolitical events that might drive the market. I really enjoyed the conversation and found that I had a lot of the same views and opinions as John. The one comment that he made that has really stuck with me was when he was looking over our total net worth and said, “We’re the same age and I don’t even have half what you do.” He also asked if we had received a windfall or something to help increase our overall net worth. I said, “Nope. We started at zero and have just been saving every two weeks for the last 20 years or so.” It felt really good to see that John was impressed with what my wife and I have built over the last 15-20 years. While it hasn’t really been a struggle to do what we’ve done (the main thing was just staying employed through the ups and downs), I have questioned myself along the way and wondered if we’d ever build a large enough nest egg to be able to retire comfortably. John also said that we could pretty much coast the rest of the way until we retire but that’s no way to finish this! I’m going to continue to aggressively save as long as we can. As a mid 40’s IT employee, I know that my company could decide I’ve “aged out” and send me to the curb any time. I’d rather be as prepared as possible for when that time comes.

On the net worth front, not much has changed over the last month. With the fluctuations in the market I think we are basically flat overall for the month. I’ll take it. I’d much rather buy my new shares every two months when the market is down a bit!