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Jerry Citarella: So many books, so few real answers

Financial Truth

Posted: November 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 


With the recent volatility in our financial markets as of late, I have more and more concern for people and the decisions they make. People are struggling to discover what the correct strategy is for them.

What’s interesting is that people are still shying away from professional help or leaving their current advisers to go it alone.

Many people are also, as usual, gobbling up “self-help” financial books.

During these tough times, I believe qualified, experienced and ethical advice is more important than ever. A successful personal relationship brings things that no book could ever deliver.

There’s no way you could learn how to be most successful with your own financial planning simply by reading a book — or even a series of books. It’s just not possible.

Why?

Because there are years and years of scenarios qualified professional advisers have witnessed — things you’d have no way of knowing about. There are volumes of knowledge you simply can’t squeeze into a self-help book — information only experience can offer.

That being said, an even bigger issue looms — one that could mean the difference between your financial success and total devastation. If ignored, this matter could entice you to make decisions that are not in your best interest and might work against your goals for a healthy financial future.

If you come away with only one thing after reading this column, be sure you have the following point indelibly etched into your mind: 

Truth: There’s no such thing as an automatic, one-size-fits-all template for financial planning.

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books on the market that will tell you how to plan your financial future.

Most neglect a vital point, and anybody who writes such books makes a deadly assumption.

They take for granted that everybody who’s going to read the book and follow their advice is the same.

Guess what—you’re not.

Everyone’s circumstances are different.

These authors are irresponsible in that they provide only basic information, one specific planning strategy or a complex manual that tries to cover everything.

I ask you, are you the same as your neighbor? Are you exactly like your father, mother or (yikes) your children? Is your scenario the same as Bill Gates’? How similar are you to the unfortunate man on the corner begging for money?

The person who makes any of these assumptions in a self-help book treats you as if everyone is the same and tells you all how to act accordingly. These authors might be wonderful at selling books and offering false hope, but results are often the same: You’ll be no better off than you were before reading the book.

If attaining financial success could be learned by reading a book, everyone would come out a winner.

There would be no struggles.

Just follow the steps, and voila, you’re rich.

I wish it were that easy.

Don’t let them fool you. These books can’t possibly teach you to make independent decisions and judgment calls or to analyze your situation correctly. Last time I checked, that book doesn’t exist. It’s your adviser’s job to understand your needs, and based on your unique scenario, advise you as to what’s in your best interest.

Oh, by the way, I wrote a financial planning-related book. In fact, much of this column happens to be taken directly from the book. What’s different about mine is that I teach you how to build a successful relationship with the right professional.

It’s time to accept that help is needed and long term realistic goals must be put in place. If you’re confused at all about your future, find the person who can guide you properly and personally.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management www.InfinityGoals.com. 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, (661) 255-9555, ext. 11. He is also the author of “The Truth Helps” series of financial planning books. Mr. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to:
jcitarella@nextfinancial.com. Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group, Inc.

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