Thanks for posting that. I found it pretty interesting. He's
clearly a bright and articulate guy and it sounds like he cares
a lot about his clients. But it also sounds like he was not
prepared for the kinds of things that one might associate with
comprehensive financial planning. Based on what he says about
his background, it was more like sales and portfolio management,
not financial planning.
For all we know, he's a great portfolio manager. The whole
business about how much time he spent talking to clients during
the market craziness sounds like he was really talking people
through times where they might have been tempted very strongly
to do the wrong thing (such as sell all their stocks right
around the bottom).
I certainly hope he wasn't giving people advice about how
much they could afford to spend on housing, or management
of personal debt. And I wish I could expect better of anyone
who is considered a financial professional. But it's a huge
field with a lot of different areas of specialty and, well,
I just hope his clients are getting good advice about the
things he doesn't know much about.
I think the above is an important point. For one, I do not see posted
here questions from financial planners about how to advise clients
about the size and type of mortgage they should get. Perhaps 'how to
get and how big of a mortgage' is so far away from the more typical
topics of financial planning, like asset allocation, that a financial
planner would hesitate to say anything about the size of mortgage one
Richards (the author) does point out how he trusted the banks to
fairly assess what amount of mortgage was appropriate. Just 20 years
ago, this did seem to make sense.
This is a good question. He may be. Folks were pretty hard on him in
the comments section of the article, as you may have noticed. (Though
many of the comments were constructive, too.) Even if his article and/
or books are for-profit, I think his detailing his experience with
candor can only tend to help the profession and consumers in general.
The author of the article cited earlier had the article linked below
in the Times today. The author responded to some of the readers'
comments, too. I think the page has some good points about 'over-
planning' with money.
"What Skis Taught Me About Money"
Thanks for posting this, Elle. Whatever folks may have said about this
guy and his earlier unfortunate situation, he does write well and he
makes some important points. I'm not sure I like "You don't need a
plan for every contingency" but his point is not really intended in
the general sense of "you don't need a plan" but rather "you need
a plan, it needs some flexibility, and don't get bogged down in the
precise details we're almost certain to get wrong - get the big
picture right (have skis!) and go in the right direction (um, down?),
and make corrections and adjustments and understand that that's part
of the process -- and that it is a process, not a finished product".
Not sure if I'm going to buy his book, but I'm certainly going to
keep reading columns like this if he keeps getting them published.
I agree. To me, he's worthwhile reading at this point. This piece on
the skis and the metaphor with financial planning is 'calming.' Not
that I am sweating anything financially. More that reinforcement not
to sweat is nice.
:-) I am reminded of the advice from famous horse whisperer and
teacher of horse trainers John Lyons regarding getting on a horse when
the horse is not well-trained, especially if one is like his tiny 5-
year-old daughter with a 16-hand tall "pony": 'Don't worry about
getting all this training minutiae perfectly right. Sometimes, just do
whatever way it takes to get on top of your horse and go /riding/.
That's why we're doing this, after all. To go /riding/.
Richards's piece seems to dovetail nicely into your WSJ article today.
Or at least when I read that the WSJ article was advocating a lawyer,
accountant, and financial advisor, with a large focus on financial
planning input from all of them, I thought maybe this is two too many
pairs of skis for me.
But this is just myself, with a basic will already (no estate tax
worries anytime soon), taxact.com, and multiple financial advice
resources via the internet. I think I could do worse. I am doubtful I
could do better and sleep at night.