Mar 25, 2009
In a recent conversation with friend and financial advisor Rocky Greene, the subject turned to the lowered level of trust people are willing to extend to financial professionals in recent days, because so many people have lost their investments—sometimes their entire retirement or life savings—in the stock market. After being betrayed by the heads of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, major investment houses, and even the governor of Illinois, people are afraid to trust, and afraid to invest again. This fear of professionals is not making people safer—it is actually making individuals even more vulnerable to ongoing losses that can devastate their accounts.
At times like these, when people are in a state of fear, they put a complete stop on any forward movement because they’re afraid of the unknown. According to Rocky, freezing up is the worst thing you can do. He uses the following analogy, “if your child is sick, you don’t wait until your child turns blue to go to the doctor. You take your child to the doctor right away! If you’re not satisfied with the opinion of that doctor, then you get a second opinion. But you need to do something.” Investment management is not so different from child management.
Despite the losses in today’s market, people are at much greater risk if they are paralyzed with fear. Don’t freeze up; instead, use this time to take action! If you don’t trust your financial advisor any more, find someone you DO like and trust, who can assist you in moving forward. And whatever you do, do not pay attention to the pundits on TV. Those “professionals” are promoting the flavor of the month, trying to push people’s hot buttons to get ratings. This is absolutely the opposite of working with a professional who will endeavor to understand your concerns and priorities and guide you accordingly. Change is not nearly as fearsome as you might believe—provided you have a trustworthy guide.
So I asked Rocky, “Well, how can people know who to call? What should a client look for in an advisor?” His advice was simple: ask around and interview until you find someone you feel you can trust. I admit that this particular advice can be somewhat challenging, especially when you have the specter of someone like Bernie Madaff, who made off with over $50 billion entrusted to him by individuals who are far savvier than the typical senior citizen in America. But Rocky’s advice makes sense. In the end, we all have to trust our instincts and just keep moving.
(In case you are wondering, Rocky Greene is not a slick new kid on the block; he is one of the old guard. He does not have a website; in fact, almost all of his business comes from referrals. Rocky is educated about the particular concerns of senior citizens as well; he is quite aware that elderly clients need to be able to have access to their money in the event of an emergency, and he states that there are appropriate products that do provide seniors with liquidity in the event of a nursing home or long-term care emergency. Rocky can be reached at Greene Financial Services in Naperville, IL, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
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