Do we really need to be "Fluent" in Financial Planning?


I am an avid listener of NPR, on both my morning and evening drive to and from my office.  By the time I get where I’m going, I feel up to date on current events, inspired by a human interest segment, or sufficiently educated on a topic I previously knew nothing about.  (I will add that no one likes to drive with me because it is always on my radio).

 As the year was winding up, I heard a particular segment that resonated with me.  A woman was sharing how as she gets older, and more recently, as she retired, she began to feel a certain anxiety around the fact that she had moved into the “spending down” phase of her Financial Life.  She and her husband had been good stewards of their finances during their working years, saving as much as possible so that they could enjoy a comfortable retirement.  During this time the bulk of their savings had been through their employer Retirement Plans, with relatively limited investment choices, that were really targeted toward a time frame rather than Investment Sectors.

Now that she was retired, however, she shared that she would listen to the news about the Stock Market, go to social events and hear about a “hot stock”, or attend Financial Seminars about different Investment Strategies that she should consider and she began to feel unprepared to manage her Investments through the rest of her retirement.  She sat through seminars without the first understanding of what it was the speaker was proposing or why she needed it.  She would go home, google the subjects of the presentation, and then start to panic because she felt completely illiterate when it came her Finances.    As I listened to her, I could almost hear the anxiety this had caused her.


There is a difference between being Fluent and being Informed.   If we were all fluent in every aspect of our lives, we would be exhausted!!! Instead, we rely on others to keep us Informed; to arm us with the information we need to make the best decisions for our well being.  Our Doctors keep us informed on our health, Accountants on our taxes, Mechanics on our car repairs, etc.  We rarely feel the need to get a medical degree or learn how to fix our cars, but somehow we’ve gotten the idea that if we don’t know exactly what to invest in, then we are being irresponsible with our Finances, likely because Social Media and 24 Hour News Cycles with an hourly pulse on the “Markets” keep us forever worried about “the next financial collapse.”

 Instead of earning a degree in Economics when we retire, why don’t we simply put that energy into finding the Financial Professional that we can trust with the management of our Finances so that we can actually spend our retirement doing all the things we’ve been waiting for?  Like our Doctor or our Mechanic, they will be able to Translate for us and guide us in making the best decisions for our financial future.  As women, we tend to have good “instincts” or “gut feelings” about the people in our lives.  Given that, we should use our best instinct in finding the right Advisor to help us with this part of our lives.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

~Ernest Hemingway


Each of us has our own unique set of skills that we bring to the world.  My sister is a Nurse, and to this day, when she speaks to me about any medical issues, I find myself telling her that I have no idea what the words she is using mean, and that she needs to translate into laymen’s terms.  I trust everything she’s telling me, and I rely on her knowledge to help me with these issues, but I need to know what she is actually saying first.  While I do the same with other “experts” in my life today, I used to panic if I didn’t understand what someone was explaining, and that it was my job to go back and translate so that I could make decisions.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!

Today, the best professionals in my life are those that can speak to me in a way that I understand, and who make me feel perfectly comfortable asking questions no matter how simple or complex.  The best, most trustworthy professionals are the ones who see it as their responsibility to speak to you in YOUR language, not theirs.

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