Atlanta Financial Blog

Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

Chris Blackmon, CFP®, CPA
October 29, 2019

People say the only bad questions are the ones you don’t ask. That can be true, and asking bad questions likely won’t hurt you, but it is more important to ask the “Right” questions. In the last year, I met with a potential client who asked me a question I want to share with you. After some “get to know you chat” he asked me, “So, how are your results?” to which I responded, “Very high.” I could see the confusion on his face, so I just waited. As I will explain later, this had nothing to do with guaranteeing results.

I assume he wanted to know about the investment returns I had earned for my clients, but that wasn’t what he asked, and it wasn’t the “Right” question to ask. Investment returns vary from client to client based on their goals and investment allocation. Older clients closer to retirement are likely just as pleased with a lower return and less volatility as a younger client with an aggressive allocation is pleased with higher returns in retirement accounts they do not plan to touch for 15+ years.

I explained that to-date, my success rate is very high for clients who collaboratively developed a retirement income plan and stuck to their budget. Those who set realistic goals and lived within the parameters we created had yet to fail. I think at times we get to caught up on #FOMO (fear of missing out) and don’t think about the minimal impact external events have on our own goals and needs. For example, if we have worked hard and saved diligently and live very comfortably in retirement, should I be concerned that a new hot tech stock is up 50% YTD and I don’t own it? Not really. So what if the price of oil is down 10% this month, is it going to change the amount of gas I purchase? Probably not. If my plan is designed to achieve my goals and manage through volatile periods, the day to day noise in the market doesn’t matter. It makes great television but shouldn’t drive the questions you ask of your advisor. The best questions to ask your advisor are “Am I still on track to reach my long-term goals?” and “What are the risks to that plan and how do I mitigate them?”

If you aren’t sure if you are asking the “right” questions of your advisor, haven’t gotten straight-forward answers to the questions you have asked, or are simply ready for a conversation that focuses on what really matters, reach out to an advisor at Atlanta Financial today to start a dialogue.

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