Monthly Archives: March 2012

Advising for life, not just assets

I’ve been fortunate to have some diverse and substantive conversations with a number of different media about the financial landscape recently, including Investment News, which wrote an interesting piece about financial advisors providing employment-related advice to clients who had lost jobs during these turbulent economic times.

Our firm was included in the article because at the height of the recession, we offered free financial advice for unemployed professionals and talked about career transitions at local outplacement centers.

Based upon our long experience in working with personal portfolios in good economic times and bad, we wanted to get two messages out to professionals who were out of work: Talk to a financial advisor right away and think outside the box when it comes to looking for a new job.

During this period, one client in his 50s came in for an informational session 10 months after he lost his job. He had two more months of unemployment insurance and health care coverage, and he was afraid of losing his house. Understandably, he was at the end of his rope. We were able to assist him and others in similar situations by helping them expand their search to related careers. However, we could have done much more if he had come in 10 months earlier.

Another unemployed hospital administrator visited us during the peak of the downturn. As an example of thinking outside the box, we suggested he consider consulting for plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits. The client soon began offering his services to law firms and continues to work as an expert witness.

Regardless of your specific career experience, here are a few general ways you can prepare for a potential change in careers, whether by mandate of your employer or of your own volition. Some are common sense, such as cutting spending, saving more from each paycheck or performing a continuous assessment of your job security.

These next two might not seem so obvious.

First, pay the absolute minimum on all your bills. Although it seems like human nature to immediately want to start paying off credit card and other high-interest debt, this limits your options in the long run. Having cash allows you the flexibility of making choices, and the luxury to discriminate between job opportunities.

Also, be sure to stay sharp mentally and physically. Baby Boomer job hunters need to be in good condition to remain marketable. That’s just reality.

I share this with you because there seems to be a general feeling within the investment management community that we are primarily financial advisors. The truth is, for our clients, we really see ourselves as life advisors. We have an obligation to help our clients make good decisions that impact their overall family security. The more we act from this perspective, the greater chance we have to build a better business.

Although the long-lasting effects of the recession can be defeating, our experience shows us that with some outside perspective and good advice, those who where once on top of their game can get back to the top. Give us a call to discuss a strategy for getting you there.

Robert Fragasso, CFP®, is chairman and chief executive officer at Fragasso Financial Advisors, a Pittsburgh-based investment and financial planning firm.  Due to industry regulations, comments are not permitted on this blog.  If you would like to contact the author, please email us at  Bob can also be reached for comment at 412-227-3200.

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