It can be scary when you hear stories about financial planners taking advantage of, and stealing from their clients. Take the recent case of New York Times personal finance columnist, Ron Lieber, whose financial planner was just accused of fraud. This can obviously happen to anyone. But it doesn’t have to. It’s important to take an active role in planning and managing your finances so you’re not wandering around blindly.
The first step is to make sure you have a clear vision of where you want to be financially in the next five to 10 years. Make sure that you understand your investment and savings strategies and where all of your money is going each month. Become acquainted with the financial products you currently own. If you have a plan that you understand, it’s easier to keep track of your money.
Secondly, be sure to check your accounts online and study each of your statements on a weekly and/or monthly basis. If you are questioning something, ask! Good financial planners are your biggest advocates – we’re keeping our eyes on your life goals.
In addition to your financial professional, it’s helpful to create your own personal board of directors. Make a list mentors, close family and friends who have your best interests at heart. Check in with them every once in awhile, ask them your biggest financial questions. It always helps knowing that you have a support system, willing to help.
And finally, try to maintain a healthy skepticism. While it’s important to take control of your own finances and know exactly where your money is going, it’s also important to maintain a positive attitude about your finances, and your planner. By choosing to think and speak positively, you invite more positive people and events into your life.
Julie Murphy Casserly, CLU, ChFC, CFP®, is a contributor to On The Money. As a 14-year veteran of the financial services industry and founder of JMC Wealth Management in Chicago, Julie helps people understand how their emotional attitudes and behaviors affect how they earn, spend and save. She is author of The Emotion Behind Money: Building Wealth from the Inside Out.