Around 15 years ago, I decided I should start paying more attention to my finances. So, I began doing more to take advantage of some benefits offered by my employer—an employer-sponsored 401(k) and a cash balance plan. The company that managed them would come in maybe twice a year, and we could book a 45 minute to an hour session with them. They would look at how much money I’d saved, where it was allocated, ask if I had any questions and discuss general information like saving for college. In between, I would try to educate myself—read books, attend webinars—but it wasn’t a high priority for me.
My first marriage ended about 12 years ago, but we never merged our money. When I got remarried in 2015, I had two kids and my own high-earning salary, my new husband had his own high-earning salary and we had our own portfolios. My husband is an engineer, very analytical and astute, and he wanted us to be all in on our finances. So, we merged our checking and short-term savings and bills. He monitored everything. Then we kept longer-term savings, like brokerage accounts, separate.
He kept meticulous records of every account and expenses on a spreadsheet. But about four years ago, I started feeling we had enough money that somebody who knew things we didn’t know should be looking at our finances. A professional colleague referred me to someone they used.
I spoke to the advisor first on my own and got the basic information: How much money did we need to have? Why would I want to work with him? How much does it cost annually? I also mentioned that my husband would be a harder sell. I knew he wondered why he should pay somebody to make money unless they could make more than he was himself.
Afterward, I told my husband we should seriously consider this advisor. The next time I was on a call with him, I invited my husband to take part. After that, we met with a team of people my advisor thought would be the right fit for us. That included a strong woman interested in female economic empowerment and a right-hand man, who seemed to talk the same language as my husband.
For me, it felt like an easy decision. I really trusted this person, and an esteemed colleague of mine also trusted him. But my husband needed more qualifications, and we had a couple more calls with the team before we moved our money over. They were able to answer every one of our questions in a concise way. And they were able to speak to our different approaches—our two styles. I was more concerned about relationship issues—would they care about me and my business and offer other value outside of the monetary, for example—and my husband was more concerned about financial performance.
Then we met to talk over our goals, what we wanted our life to look like; and they built a financial plan for us. The process was complicated by the fact this was around the time I started my business, which affected our cash flow. We didn’t quite have the required minimum amount they needed to take us on as clients, but we were close enough.
Although we’re small potatoes for them, I know our advisors will invest in growing my business, making introductions and continually looking for opportunities for me. They’ve also demonstrated a level of care for us and our family. At the very least, they know what’s going on in our lives.
I really appreciate all the extra stuff, knowing they’re in it for the long-haul. My husband and I are also in this for the long game. The ebbs and flows of the market don’t matter.