Financial Planning
November 22, 2022

Financial Planning With No Financial Advisor

Not everyone can access a top-tier financial planner, but that doesn’t mean they have to fly completely blind.
Stewart Willis
Co-Founder & Co-Owner Asset Preservation Tax & Retirement

Frequently, you need to have a minimum amount of investable assets before a top-tier financial advisor will take you on as a client. That seems harsh, but financial advisors adhering to the fiduciary standard often set a percentage of your invested assets as their fee. If you don’t have a hefty amount of investable assets, the financial advisor won’t make enough from your account to stay in business.

That means there are many people who would benefit from the advice of a top-tier financial advisor, but aren't able to get it. If that describes you, here are some tips to help you work your way toward working with a financial advisor.

The first step is to understand not everyone is out to help you. There are many common sources of financial wisdom, from brokerage firms to social media. But there are two main problems with these sources. 

First, you must learn, largely on your own, the difference between good and bad advice, usually without the depth of financial understanding to properly evaluate it! Second, there’s often little to no gatekeeping for the people giving that advice.

Some social media influencers routinely give terrible advice such as claiming that 0% loans aren’t really debt. Even advisors working at mass-market brokerage firms are prone to give less-than-stellar advice because they’re incentivized to sell products that make their firms money whether or not those products will yield results for the client.  

A client making $40,000 per year has less ability to put money away than one making six figures, which means their advisors need to make more per transaction in order to pay their own bills. They may end up using expensive products with high commissions and fees, creating a cycle that’s very difficult to get out of.

I’ve got a list of things to think about when you’re managing your own financial planning:

Throw out the old rules!

For about twelve years, the United States had the best economy the world has ever seen. Markets soared, and it was almost child’s play to make money by investing. But that’s all changed. The coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and global supply chain issues have conspired to make success in the markets much more challenging. 

Even so-called “safe” investments like government bonds are performing poorly now. We’re in much more treacherous waters than we’ve been in since the 80s, and even the safe harbors have storms.

Carefully consider your sources of information.

There’s a lot of free financial advice out there. Some of it is good, but a lot of it isn’t. Research the places you’re getting information from. Make sure they don’t have a reputation for giving bad advice.

A little knowledge can be dangerous.

One aspect of human behavior that’s common enough to have a name is the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says we often know just enough about a subject to not understand how little we know about it. A lot of people want to be financially savvy but don’t learn enough about finance before they start acting on what they think they know.

A great example is cryptocurrencies. People invested a lot of money in them and saw tremendous growth until they suddenly didn’t. When the crypto market crashed, it caught a lot of people by surprise because they didn’t understand market risk as well as they thought they did.

If you don’t have a financial advisor, that doesn’t mean you should never invest in anything. But it does mean you need to be particularly dedicated to learning all you can about financial planning and especially vigilant against falling into the trap of thinking you know more than you know.

Stewart Willis is the founder and president of Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, a financial planning firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Investment advisory services offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

The commentary on this blog reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the author, Stewart Willis, providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC (“Foundations”), an SEC registered investment adviser or performance returns of any Foundations client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment, legal or tax advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Personal investment advice can only be rendered after the engagement of Foundations for services, execution of required documentation, including receipt of required disclosures. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Foundations manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Any statistical data or information obtained from or prepared by third party sources that Foundations deems reliable but in no way does Foundations guarantee the accuracy or completeness. Rates and Guarantees provided by insurance products and annuities are subject to the financial strength of the issuing insurance company; not guaranteed by any bank or the FDIC. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Any past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Foundations and its advisors are properly licensed or exempted. For more information, please go to and search by our firm name or by our CRD # 175083

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