If your only tool is a hammer

You may be familiar with the adage that to a person with a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

This is very applicable in the world of financial advice and many clients are not aware of it.

Unfortunately, when you don’t know any different you are often also oblivious to the consequences, which include:

  • Missed opportunity
  • Higher stress from strategies and products that don’t ideally suit your personality and needs
  • Higher costs and lower value-for-money
  • Missed lifestyle goals

Example Hammers in The World of Financial Advice

A tax accountant thinks a Self Managed Super Fund is the answer to getting control over your superannuation.

Why? Because they’re not licensed to recommend other off-the-shelf products. (Which, by the way give you great control without the legal responsibility of a SMSF.) And because they’re not licensed to give such advice they naturally wouldn’t spend any professional development time researching alternate options.

A stockbroker thinks owning direct shares is the best way to create wealth.

While a real estate agent or property developer thinks residential investment property is the best way.

And your mates and colleagues think the best way is the way they are doing it!

Why? Because it’s probably the only way they know. (Plus you doing what they suggest sub-consciously validates their decisions. It’s a psychological phenomenon of herding or “group think.)

(Apologies to readers in the above professions who cleverly operate outside the above generalisation. Keep it up!)

Ask Yourself

Since so many types of professions can call themselves “financial advisers” ask yourself which tool is the focus of their tool box?

You Need A Team with a Tool Box

The truth is that there is no one best way and no single tool that will be all you need through your life.

Almost everything in life requires money to facilitate it. So your financial planning and management needs to be as deep and broad as your life.

That’s a life long job that requires a diverse tool box.

Rather than doing and knowing it all yourself you outsource some of that planning and management to the financial professions.

Your best solution is to build a team of experts.

Your Team

Your primary contact when managing your finances should be a comprehensive financial planner.

True financial planners have a tool box full of various tools. They assess the problem/goal and then select the right combination of tools.

Taking the metaphor deeper, true financial planners may not actually swing all the tools themselves. After identifying the right tools they may recommend specialists for certain tools that you need.

This is illustrated in the image below:

Who to call

So when you have a financial problem or a decision you are mulling over don’t just speak to your accountant or investment adviser. They may not have the right tool for the job.

Instead speak to your financial planner who has a comprehensive, contextual view of both your situation and the world of financial strategies.

And if you don’t yet have a big picture person in your team then call me today.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts about this perspective in the comments below. I’d love to know:

  • How do you currently solve the bigger picture aspect of your financial decisions?
  • Who do you turn to for help?
  • Who are valuable categories of advice professionals in your team?

And what financial decisions are occupying your mind right now? Complete the survey here

Author: Matt Hern

Certified Financial Planner professional, Matt Hern has three times been awarded as one of Australia's Top 50 Financial Planners by The Australian Financial Review Smart Investor. He is passionate about guiding you on the right financial choices to achieve what you really want. Matt Hern is an Authorised Representative of Charter Financial Planning Limited AFSL 234665. All information is general advice only.

1 thought on “If your only tool is a hammer”

  1. Hi Matt,

    Great to meet you in Perth recently and I love your newsletters. As response:

    1. The bigger picture is solved by my vision board and my number crunching so I engage the conscious and subconscious mind. Hope that’s not too deep 🙂
    2 & 3. I turn to my accountant & check in with a financial planner once every 3 years to make sure I’m on track.

    Have a great weekend!

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