Do These Articles Help You?

Why does this blog make sense for me?

That question has come up often and since yesterday was article 1800, I thought maybe it was time I answered it. If only for my own thinking.

There are several reasons I do it

  1. It’s fun. I like to write and this is a good way to express some of the things that seem important to me. Most of the articles are about financial things or the advisor business or maybe education and financial literacy.  There are a few rants, too. Many connect otherwise disconnected ideas. That is the fun part. Like yesterday about financial planning and martial arts.
  2. I care that advisors provide a useful and efficient service for their clients. I want clients to find a way to connect to the tactical infrastructure.
  3. I think most clients think financial planning is something that is one of, unnecessary, easy, something someone else can do for them. It is none of those. It is crucially important. Especially so in times like these. It is not a good do-it-yourself project and people are led to believe it is. Some can find the insight in these articles.
  4. I like to think there is a simple takeaway in each piece, that advisors can use to discuss with their clients. Or maybe a client can take to their advisor.
  5. I think almost every adult is financially illiterate when they are young and only a few gain the expertise they need to make sound decisions. Blame the school system and parents who have learned to get along, but do not know how they do it. Learning late is better than not learning, but time is the key resource. Starting late is dramatically more difficult. Learn to start earlier or use the articles to help people see the need.
  6. I think many advisors would have trouble giving a complete answer to two simple questions about financial planning. “What is it?” and “What’s it for?”
  7. Most clients would have trouble answering the question, “what do advisors do?”
  8. I think most clients would benefit from using common tools to make their financial lives more efficient. Simple works. Complex is risky.
  9. I think most financial commentators produce mostly nonsense. Exciting sometimes but mostly irrelevant for the average client. No one knows the future and picking a narrow set of statistics to prove some point is wrong. In math, there is an idea that says there is always more than one way to describe a given data set. I like to point oput some of the obvious ones.
  10. Like the headline says, “Money is merely organized common sense.” Once it gets past that, people become prey. Few people understand money and value it in the wrong way.
  11. I think people start planning in the wrong place. If you don’t know what you are trying to do and what your resources are, it is impossible to decide if a particular tactic (tool) works for you. If someone starts the discussion with a tool without asking how it would work for you, they are working their plan, not yours. Start with strategy. It won’t take an hour to get one that works to begin. Good plans evolve.
  12. When people see how hopes, fears and expectations fit seamlessly with readily available tools, financial planning and execution becomes automatic.
  13. I think I can help people see the method.

Should I keep doing it?

That is a hard question for me.

I like doing them and up until lately, they were not a burden. They are getting fewer views this year than in other years and that troubles me a little. Maybe I have run out of useful ideas.

The articles take time I could use differently and since they have made $0.00 so far, maybe I should reallocate that time.

They don’t bring in new clients, but I think I am more skillful dealing with clients because of them. I have had to clarify my own thinking on some of the planning points.

Few people comment on them, good or bad, so I don’t learn much. Strangely, easily half the comments come from South Africa or Australia. That may have some meaning, but I don’t know what it is.

Where to from here?

I have not decided yet and as a short term enterprise, I think I will go to 2000 articles, maybe 2018, for symmetry, which should appear around the end of next February.

You can help

Please send feedback.  What you like and don’t like. Some people think they are too long. That might be true but I don’t have the time to make them short. Short and complete is hard. Maybe fewer and shorter would work. Any ideas are welcome.

Please be in touch.  Thanks for reading.

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14 Responses to Do These Articles Help You?

  1. Richard Farmer says:

    Enjoy reading the financial articles. True, holistic financial planning isn’t explored to any degree and your commentary is insightful

  2. Your blog provides insight into a widely misunderstood process. Far too many advisors miss the mark and provide clients with boilerplate financial plans which satisfy the advisor’s goal and compliance needs but leave the client with a plan that is not their’s and which they don’t have a connection or commitment.

  3. Bob Behan says:

    I enjoy the articles very much and find them thought provoking. They are educational in many ways and I pass many on to other people who I feel can benefit from the content. I appreciate the effort required to produce them and hope they continue.

  4. Jamie Roche says:

    Please continue Don. Your articles are insightful, helpful and provide, as you say, simple food for thought for our profession and the clients we serve. I can honestly say that your articles have helped me from the time I discovered them when I was early in my career..I have so much more to learn. Keep up the great work..your time and efforts are very much appreciated!

  5. Jules Besseling says:

    I try to get to these every day. Sometimes miss a few.
    Go with whatever floats your boat!
    If you feel like writing a lot, write a lot. Break it up into chapters if you need to . Or do it as you find a topic that interests you and the readers.

    Same old same old may be boring. Variety is the spice of live so someone said!
    Whatever you decide works for me!

    Much appreciate the years of thought and dedication that you have expended to date!

    I look forward to more!


    Jules Besseling,
    1353 White Crescent,
    Peterborough, Ontario K9K 2L6
    705 740 3282
    ~We change as we age. The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, and the young know everything.
    Oscar Wilde.

  6. Alfred Feth, FIC, CFP., R.F.P., EPC, CPCA, ACFPE, FPA (US) says:

    Hi Don,
    For those the 10 years of my 25 years within this industry I have operated a Advice Only Financial Planning Practice with multuiple designations and the willingness to learn continuously every day. I have enjoyed reading your blogs, comments and yes rants as I concur that people are losing interest and becoming complacent, however. I have been doing this long enough that this will change when the next “Black Swan” hits home. As Minisky said Stability leads to Instability. But the way I don’t believe in Black Swan events. We can see them unfolding but unwilling to make the necessary corrections to protect our base.

    This is a little long, however I wanted to take the time and wish your continued success no matter which you make in the future.

    Best Regards,
    Alfred Feth

  7. Derek Lepine says:

    Good afternoon Don, I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and the wealth of information contained in it. I have been in this industry now since Nov 2009 shortly after I retired from Bell Canada. My key take away from all this and from what I have learned these past few years is the lack of feedback and communication between the advisor and the client. There needs to be more open dialogue between the two in order to achieve their mutual goals with the client/consumer coming out ahead. I enjoy seeing your articles every morning in my inbox and hope to see more. Keep up the good work.

  8. Bruce Dielissen says:

    Cheers Don and Thank you for this blog. Given the current and ever increasing compliance headwinds your perspective has been a breath of fresh air, I use it to reinforce the motivations which brought me to this industry in the first place. Of course your technical expertise is of significant value— the ‘why we do it’ –to the betterment of our clients, the ones they love and their business associates—is my ‘take away’ from almost every article. In an age where technology does almost everything, your blog allows me to keep some humanity/insight in the game–where relationships do matter. I enjoy and reflect on your perspective often–keep up the good work.

  9. franktooton1 says:

    Thanks for your efforts and sincere desire to help Don. I agree with much of what you are saying. I think there are some clues for a go forward in what you have outlined. Perhaps we can talk about this at a convenient time?

  10. Lou-AnneBalodis says:

    I always enjoy your blogs even though sometimes they don’t relate directly to my field(I specialize in group benefits). I know how hard it is to come up with relevant information about which to
    blog constantly so I appreciate the effort you make in writing so everyone can understand it

  11. Dear Don
    Please note that I did not see this article and I came to notice it today as you will know I live of your insight and expertise. I always dig around and have since discovered a lot of valuable information and your contribution over the years is amazing. We are truly blessed to have you and your dedication to the industry is beyond measure.I find your articles to be more educational and informative in this way it helps all of us who are taking our profession seriously at the same share some meaningful insights with our clients.What you are doing is valuable and appreciated by most of us especially in South Africa as we were only introduced into the industry with the focus to make money not to service clients. The emphasis has always been on the targets and the sales that the bosses and the companies wanted until the advent of the regulatory regime. You have provided me and a lot of others with a new way and a new perspective towards the profession and rekindled the love and passion putting clients first for the change.You are doing what you love continue when the desire is still there forget the doomsayers I have come to realize that people are always looking for something new and can easily not see the value in your blogs and articles because they are profound and timeless. Worry when you hear those that require the next level you can not replace the good stuff with some unknown and unproven next level. By the way our industry remains the same. Good work carry on do not put a time frame. I was surprised to see articles dating back to 2012 and 2013. We love you and our support is guaranteed

  12. Thank you. If you end up being the only reader, I think i would continue to publish. Thanks for your support.

  13. You are a blessing to the industry and your generosity is appreciated. To tell the truth in South Africa we are brought in the industry to compete and only a handful are in the profession for the love of serving people. The environment dictates that we have to compete and amass as much wealth or commission as possible because often time the profession is a default one for most of us. Nowhere before did we have people that joined the industry with the desire to service people the lure has always been to make money as insurance agents were always regarded as the best earners generally. The companies do not have the desire to empower advisors to provide service to the people but to make them commission machines with the primary focus on the sales and the target in this way creating an unhealthy competition among advisors that makes them not eager or unwilling to share information as everyone is for himself. Nor are they willing to invest in educating the clients only focusing on the development of new products that are hastily put out in the market for consumption and you find even us advisors we have to learn and understand them along the way. I still lament the lack of desire to invest in education and financial literacy by these big companies. We are privileged and blessed to have advanced people like you helping out not only the advisors but the clients and them companies as well. Your contribution is timeless and has a lot of value to the industry I wish the companies can acknowledge that and somehow find a way to assist you in someway. Better then the bonuses and thousands given to politicians and other worthless projects that have no direct bearing and impact in the industry that eke out their living.

    • He faith. It will change bit slowly. It was not so different here a few decades ago. It will happen faster for you. The internet is a great leveler. If you act in the client’s best interest, you can be systematic and process driven. That allows you to build a business instead of being a product salesman. Take a look at an accounting firm structure. They can assign the highest level tax person or a new hire with little experience., because they have both and can supervise. The idea is to match the resource to the nature of the client’s problem. They tend to seek the question first. Product folks have answers looking for questions. Educating everyone in the system matters. We’ll informed clients make better decisions. Most of those are obvious to them when they have something to attach to. You don’t have to be a salesman when the client knows what they need and why. The key will be how to begin. The value is well informed clients are sticky. You can take some time and build the business like a farmer. Product only folks are hunters. They lack the stability of a functioning multi layered business. Look to the future and assess how clients will assess your value. Be a step ahead.

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