OPINION – As a registered financial representative with more than 25 years of experience, I am amazed at how many times my phone calls are not returned and set appointments cancelled. I must admit that this happens regardless of one’s income, profession or level of education. It seems many of us are adverse to just sitting down and getting financial advise from an established financial professional.
I know that many of us have been hit hard by the recent recession — or depression for African Americans. I know that many of us are just barely making it from paycheck to paycheck with work furloughs, layoffs and no unemployment benefits.Yes, these are tough times.
Yes,our unemployment rate is 20 percent and our average net worth is only $6,000 compared to Whites at $88,000.
Yes, these are tough economics times and they have always been for minorities. But, we must began to plan now for better opportunities. We must remember that old saying,”Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
I don’t care whether you’re a multi-millionaire, teacher or unemployed maintenance engineer. You must recognize the reality of your finacial situation and review options and strategies to improve your financial plight.
There has never been a better time to invest in real estate, stocks or start that small business you’ve always dreamed of.
My question: what is this aversion to financial education that may help one protect and grow their family’s wealth?
The standard reply to my asking for an appointment is that I’m just trying to sell something. I tell people let’s just have a conversation about short- and long-term financial objectives. It does not hurt to have a discussion and receive information that may improve your finances.
Questions I raise are: Is it important to provide an income for your spouse and family if you die? Is it worthwhile to find out if you are saving enough money for retirement? Is it worthwhile to find out how to fund your son’s or daughter’s college education?
In my discussion with fellow African Americans in the financial field, once an appointment is secured, the discussion goes something like this: “I know I need to do this, but now is not a good time. I will get back to you later, when I’m ready. Well that perpetual later goes from a few days, months and finally years.
Yes, most financial advisers do have to make a living to feed their families. But this is America, you get what you pay for. Soime advisers charge by the hour and others only get paid if you purchase a policy. But one should at least sit down and see how that finacial professional may be able to help you.You are not required to buy any products or services.
An ethnical adviser will not pressure you to buy a product or service you don’t need or can’t afford.
Times are tough, but the need for retirement planning, life insurance, long-term care insurance and investing goes on. Out of sight out of mind will not secure your financial future. The problems will still be there when you wake up tomorrow. We must face the reality of our financial predicament and face it head-on with a clear, precise plan of action.
I’ve found that many spouses do not wish to discuss their finances because they desire their spending habits to remain secret. Well that’s just why we need to all sit down and bring some light to this area.
Until this happens we will remain consumers rather than owners, spenders rather than savers and less wealthy than other races.
We as African Americans have the entrteprenuer spirit and work ethic to become a viable economic force in our communities.
But, we must began this process by getting our individual household finances in order. Then we will be able to participate fully in the rewards and benefits of a free market system.
But it all begans with that first frank discussion with the financial representative of your choice.
By David Fontaine
David Fontaine is a licensed financial representative with 30 years of insurance and financial management experience. He serves as the CEO of the Minority Financial Literacy Project which works to eliminate the financial literacy gap between the minority and majority community. For more information, visit www.minorityfinancialliteracy.com.