I recently went to an event at Splash Studio hosted by FUEL Milwaukee. Splash Studio is a painting studio here in Milwaukee where up to about 30 participants can come in and paint. The studio is even equipped with a bar serving beer and wine (their website says "Paint. Drink. Repeat"). A local artist walks participants through the process of painting an original work of art. They provide a simple, step-by-step process to paint some pretty incredible pieces.
To be clear, I am not an artist. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a paint brush, and have certainly never painted anything worth noting. Truthfully, I had serious doubts about Splash Studio’s ability to turn me into a painter. I was uncomfortable even trying to paint since I am not particularly fond of doing things I am terrible at, especially in public.
I have to admit that I was wrong. The artist was patient, and had a great sense of humor. She clearly outlined each step of the painting process, and worked with us until we each has a similar, but completely unique, piece of art to take home and hang on the wall.
I spent some time reflecting on the experience on my drive home from the studio. The process of personal financial planning should be similar to what Splash Studio has done with the process of painting. It is uncomfortable at first because it is so unfamiliar. With proper guidance and a little patience from the financial planner (or artist) however, even the most daunting tasks can become easy.
Working with a financial planner shouldn’t feel like you are in over your head. You should walk out of your advisors office fully understanding what is happening within your personal finances. If your advisor is making recommendations that you can’t fully understand, just say “no.”
You should understand every recommendation and every step of the financial planning process. Personal finance isn’t nearly as complicated as we have been led to believe. Although I felt like painting would be incredibly hard because it looks so complicated and have never really tried before, it wasn’t difficult once the instructor broke it down into manageable and understandable bite size pieces of information.
What I hope you take away from this is that you should feel in control of your personal finances, and you should understand what is happening. You should never “turn over” your money to someone else so you can ignore it. You should be involved in the process, with the advisor acting as a guide, not as the decision maker.
So what do you think? Do you feel like your advisor talks over your head? Do you think the process of financial planning can be similar to what Splash Studio has created? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!
Alan Moore is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Serenity Financial Consulting in Shorewood WI. Follow him on Twitter @R_Alan_Moore. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 414-455-5313, or visit his website at www.SerenityFC.com. Want more education? Download your free guide to the “10 Easy Steps To Securing Your Financial Future Today.”