How Generic Advice Almost Got Me “Married With Two Kids”

A few years ago I hired a professional financial advisor for the first time. Like many people, I wanted to protect my future and learn what to do with my savings. Needless to say, I had no expectations before hiring an advisor because I didn’t know what the outcome of that advice would look like.

For those unfamiliar with financial advisors, they typically sit down with you to understand your goals and produce a report covering their recommendations. An independent advisor might suggest various investment options depending on your circumstances, while an affiliated one is likely to recommend one of theirs.

Here Comes The Plot Twist

The guy working with me initially was pretty good. We sat down in his office for a good hour. He listened carefully and took down the details including my age, personal circumstances, income, and my goals for the next 10 to 20 years.

We met again in a week to review his recommendations. Eager to discover the advice I began to read the report. The opening paragraph addressed me as “Dear Jay,” stating that my wife, two kids, and I were seeking financial advice on buying a property. I am not sure if this service also included fortune telling but I was single with no kids on the horizon.

After reading the first page, I immediately lost trust in the advisor. He apologised admitting to mistakenly using someone else’s report as a template. In my mind I was wondering how much of the other person’s advice was used—was it just the first page? Or was he just stamping out generic advice for everyone but forgot to change the profile part?

My Other First Experience In Fitness

Receiving template advice that is not tailored to our needs is common in other places. Let’s take fitness as an example. My other first experience was working with a personal trainer at the local gym where I was offered a free training program when I signed up. After measuring my height and weight (which I already knew) my new fitness instructor printed me out a set of exercises that I was meant to be doing 4 times a week.

I imagined myself staying on the podium of Mr Olympia shaking Arnie’s hand when I was proudly walking back home with my new program. This would surely get me to success.

Unfortunately, my dream was short-lived. What I was given was a full-body workout program. If you are not in the know the full-body workout is when you exercise all of your group muscles. You’ll do your chin-ups, squats and bench presses all in the same workout.  

What I found immediately when I had my initial experience with this was that I couldn’t possibly complete all of the exercises in one hour and I was wiped out by the end of the week. The full-body workouts have their place for absolute beginners where an adaptation period is required before moving to more advanced training approaches.

There are also other components to building a decent physique like diet and macros, sufficient rest and hydration that have to be a part of the training program. 

Later I found another instructor who explained that I was not allowing my body enough time to recover. I needed to use something called split workouts, where you train one muscle group on a given day and give it rest for a week.

A template can’t cover all these aspects. We are all unique cases that require a tailored approach. This is the same reason why most of the fitness advice you will see on YouTube or read about in a magazine probably won’t work for you.

Men’s Health magazine is a good example where fitness routines often target younger audiences with decent physiques.  And while it’s good to aspire to reach the peak physical form not everyone is in that boat. 

I learned this lesson the hard way after a couple of injuries that knocked me out for a good couple of months when I got older. The same workouts that did wonders for me before no longer worked.  My body has changed and my my fitness goals.  If in my 20s and 30s I tried to get bigger but in my 40s I want my workouts to improve my wellbeing and keep maintaining muscle mass. 

Using specific examples,  when you get older,  it’s better to increase the number of repetitions to between 10 to 12 and not use extremely heavy weights because of the potential damage it can do.  Also, some exercises wouldn’t be advisable for instance, overhead shoulder press because of the compression stress on the lower back. 

There are some people in their 40s and 50s who were gifted with great genetics.  Like my friend who still trains the same way as he used to when he’s in his thirties. But every-Body is different and if you do not heed the cues it’s giving you two things will happen:

Firstly, you will feel constantly tired from overtraining which is probably a better outcome than what follows next. Secondly, you get injured to the point that you can no longer train.

So how do we find proper advice? I’ll give you a couple of recommendations based on my experience that equally apply to financial goals or fitness goals. 

Listen To The Real Professionals  

I’ve been seeing a lot of news that the government is now trying to crack down on “financial advisors” with no education who give controversial recommendations on TikTok on where to invest your money and what to do with your savings. Don’t hire that guy. Look for someone with credentials and worked in the field, but also look at their results.  

Do they have clients who achieved the level of success that they promised using their methods? Ask what kind of education and accreditation they have and how long they have been working in this field. 

They Have Been There And Have A T-Shirt To Prove It

When it comes to fitness or investing it helps to find someone who traveled the path and is familiar with your circumstances. I had one session with a really good boxing instructor who would normally train people looking to compete in MMA. In an hour I went through hell came back to earth and was in heaven when it was finished. 

I did not enjoy it a single bit. You may say I’m a softie,  which is probably true, but my body prefers an incremental approach. I also like my sessions to be challenging but to the point that makes me feel that I want to go back for another one after. 

By a stroke of luck, I started a chat with my neighbour who turned out to be an experienced boxing and BJJ coach. This guy would push me to my healthy limits. We will work hard but choose routines that are safe and prevent me from getting injured. It’s all because he understood my goals but also had a few injuries in the past.

Good Advice Cost Money

Professionals value their time and so should you. Hiring someone who can deliver the right results the first time will save you from the frustration of switching horses in the middle of it or from making costly mistakes.

You do not need to hire the most expensive guy on the market – just look for the industry average and find an experienced professional with a proven record.

Did You Get The Results That You Came For?

If you’ve been working with your advisor or a coach for a couple of months, followed the instructions and still have not gotten the outcome you wanted it’s probably time to move on.

At this point, you need to re-assess your situation and look for other options. It does not mean that your advisor is bad it could be that you aren’t a good match. It’’s okay to walk away and find someone who will be more suitable for your goals and needs.  

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