They say money talks, which is a good thing because apparently we don’t like talking about money.
According to a 2014 study completed by Wells Fargo, almost 44 percent of Americans consider personal finance to be one of the most difficult topics to discuss, outranking death, politics, religion and taxes.
We talk about everything from family to job satisfaction in everyday conversations but we rarely discuss wealth building and estate planning. Because we’re so guarded about money, most of us miss the opportunity to ask for the help from either a financial adviser or financial professional.
But conversations about money are due, particularly in the African-American community. While the median household income has increased in our community from $29,569 in 1972 to $33,805 in 2012, the median income for white families in 2012 was $57,837.
A recent study found that a lack of education isn’t the lone culprit furthering the wealth gap. In fact, in 2014, college-educated African-Americans accumulated less wealth than white high school dropouts. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the typical African-American family has a little under $11,000 in accumulated wealth compared to white families whose average wealth was $134,200.
There are several factors that make it harder for black families to save and build wealth but there are time-tested tools available such as insurance, real estate and sound estate planning. Getting trusted, reliable help is a valuable tool people can use to increase their families' net worth and wealth.
Unfortunately, such help isn’t always easily accessible. Some individuals and families have personal barriers that prevent them from asking for the help they need, like embarrassment or overconfidence. Additionally, there are many commonly held misconceptions about working with a financial adviser such as:
· They are only for the rich and their services are expensive
· Their assistance is only limited to investing
· Their services are only for people of a certain age
· Only people who need help with money or have lost control of their spending need financial advisers
So, when should you ask for help?
When you don’t have a solid financial foundation or you are having difficulty finding your financial footing. This means the financial basics such as your budget, credit and establishing an emergency savings account. These are important during all phases of adulthood and are the cornerstones of your financial plan. If you realize that you aren’t able to establish a solid foundation by yourself, it is best to reach out to a financial professional that specializes in these areas.
When you have more assets or income earning capability than previous generations. Most of us learn our money habits and beliefs from our parents and guardians. If you are the first in your family to earn or own more than previous generations, you should look into hiring a professional to help you properly manage and grow your money.
You have financial goals, but aren’t sure how to attain them. Whether your goal is homeownership, self-employment, early retirement, or college planning, or all of the above, a financial professional can provide you with an action plan to help you achieve your goals.
To get a second or third opinion. Even if you think your finances are in shape, if you’ve never worked with a professional or have been working with one, it doesn’t hurt to get a second or third opinion. Financial situations are complex and a second opinion could save and possibly earn you money in the long run.
It is important to remember that when deciding to work with an adviser do your research. Interview potential advisers to find out about their work style and how they communicate with their clients. In addition, it’s also helpful to make sure that the credentials they claim to have are valid and to find out if there are any legal proceedings against them.
Lastly, remember that financial professionals often have different specializations, just like professors and doctors. It’s OK to work with more than one financial professional to ensure that you are receiving the best advice for your financial matters, just be honest and inform them that you are working with others.
Once you decide on an adviser, be open and honest about your income and expenses. No matter how good they are, a financial adviser or professional can’t truly help you if you are not honest about your complete financial picture. Be honest and open about your needs and goals and a financial adviser can set you on the right track.