I had wanted to talk to a financial adviser ever since I got laid off and I had to roll over my 401k, but I was terrified.
First, I was afraid of the cost of a consultation. My money is mostly earmarked for bills and groceries right now, with very little wiggle room. I am unable to foot the bill for a conversation with a fast-talking mutual fund salesperson.
Second, I was afraid of the technical details. I have genuinely been trying to educate myself about financial matters, and while I feel leap years ahead of where I was just two years ago, I haven’t yet had to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve just been paying off the ol’ credit card, paying down the student loans, and making coffee at home instead of buying expensive lattes. I haven’t really had to figure out what to do with a couple of thousand dollars yet, let alone consider the consequences in terms of taxes and all.
Third, I don’t stand up for myself very well and I was afraid of leaving with the investment equivalent of the tramp stamp you get one night when you’re young, possibly drunk, and too naive to think about the long-term consequences of a permanent decision. I didn’t want to get steam-rolled into buying a mutual fund that I didn’t understand, and risk losing my baby investments to fees like piranhas.
However, I finally had to face the music: I am not Warren Buffet. I’m not even one of the few people who actually got fired from any of the big investment houses at the onset of the global financial crisis. I know nothing, and I needed help.
And…as it turns out…and as it turns out with so many of the things I am reluctant to try at first, it was totally painless. I got a free consult with the financial adviser at my bank and he didn’t push me into a thing. I told him some of the ideas I had about where to put my money, and he gave me his insight. I didn’t even invest with his firm, and he didn’t mind.
“So you get nothing from this?” I asked.
“Nope. This consultation is just one of the benefits of being a member here.” +1 for local credit unions.
I was able to ask him all my questions, he wrote up some next steps for me, and helped me get my paperwork in order. It was everything that I needed, and only what I needed. The conversation was less like being inundated by a car salesman’s pitch, which I was braced for, and more like getting a consult from your regular GP.
Once I was finished, I experienced the added bonus of feeling like an adult for having a 401k, for rolling it over, and for knowing what kind of fund I wanted to invest it in. INVEST ALL THE MONEYS!
Have you ever talked to a financial adviser? What was that experience like for you?
PS: You should totally watch this documentary about the whole retirement fund industry in the US and look into your shit. Don’t just assume some recent college grad in a suit has your back.