From time to time, one of the conversations that I enjoy having starts off something like this:
Highly Intelligent Person: You know, I can find everything I need to know about <insert financial planning topic here, usually investments> online. Why would anyone ever hire a financial adviser?
This is about where a typical adviser begins defending her worth or running down the list of services that he provides. The truth is simple. Absolutely everything you need to know about every topic related to financial planning is available on the internet. You really can do all of it yourself. While we’re on the subject, every “secret” to nutrition and physical fitness is on the Web, too. So why do we still have an obesity problem in the U.S.?
For great financial advisers, only a portion of their job involves education. For those of you who have the grit and drive to turn that education into success, I provide the following reading list:
On Financial Planning
Life Planning For You by George Kinder
George Kinder is the father of the financial life planning movement, and has been introducing clients and advisers to a better way to think about planning since the 1980s. This work, subtitled “How to Design & Deliver the Life of Your Dreams,” provides just that. It’s a do-it-yourselfer’s guide to the financial life planning process that I walk each of my own clients through. It also includes a guide to finding a great financial adviser you can trust, should you change your mind about going it alone.
Values-Based Financial Planning by Bill Bachrach
Bill Bachrach has provided another excellent step-by-step guide for DIY planners. He walks you through identifying your values, setting your goals, bench-marking your current situation, then creating what he calls a Financial Road Map®. It also includes a section on educating yourself, or finding a trusted adviser to help, with regards to implementing your plan.
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey
Dave catches a lot of flack from financial advisers, but the truth is, no one has had more impact on eradicating debt and instilling basic personal financial principles in the United States. If you find yourself just starting out, or behind the eight ball with regard to debt, Financial Peace is an excellent place to start!
Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray
Nick Murray is well known inside the financial planning community as an author, speaker and consultant. It’s a shame that his only (to my knowledge) book that isn’t aimed at advisers doesn’t get more attention. In Simple Wealth, he lays out just what’s wrong with the way that many investors (and their advisers) think about investing, and provides a simple, elegant framework for long-term success.
How to Pay Zero Taxes by Jeff A. Schnepper
If you had told me that I’d be stifling laughter while reading a book on income taxes, I never would have believed you. While Jeff’s book looks like a text book, his initial introduction and brief history of the tax system in the United States had me chuckling. He then goes on to provide just about every loophole imaginable.
For Business Owners
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
As a business owner myself, this stands very near the top of my list of favorites. In his 1995 business classic, Gerber lays out the obstacles that stand in the way of every small business owner at each stage of their business’ life. The picture he paints of the three forces that are constantly vying for every solo entrepreneur’s attention changed the way I think about work. When I have friends and clients who start businesses, I try to get them a copy of this one.
For Financial Advisers
While the above books are titles that every adviser should read (multiple times, with a highlighter), they were each written specifically with the end client in mind. The following books are written FOR advisers.
The Excellent Investment Adviser by Nick Murray
What Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth is to clients, this book is to advisers. Me. Murray expands on his investing message to provide talking points that advisers can use with clients to help u do some of the brainwashing they have been programmed with.
Lighting the Torch by George Kinder
Lighting the Torch is George’s term for helping clients find that dream that’s burning inside of them and nursing it into a full-blown bonfire. This book lays out the financial life planning process from a practitioner’s point of view.