What if I Told You That You Were Worth $160?

To successfully save for retirement and make your money last through it, investors must be able to distinguish the difference between cost and value.

From a purely scientific and mathematical perspective, the human body is worth about $160.

We are composed of 65% oxygen, worth a whopping $9.63; we have only 0.25% of potassium in our bodies, but it is worth a surprising $104 (keep eating your bananas!); and the average body contains only a penny’s worth of gold. Throw in the value of the other miscellaneous components of our bodies and the average human “costs” about $160.

However, we all recognize the critical value of oxygen’s role in our day-to-day survival. And gold? Well, the intrinsic value of those with a heart of gold, who show compassion and kindness to your fellow humans, cannot be measured in dollars.

So, the differentiation between cost and value is very important.

How Cost vs. Value Figures into Your Financial Life

This is especially true in investing. You may be contemplating putting your hard-earned dollars into a mutual fund. This is generally an investment decision that is relatively inexpensive. However, do you have the expertise to make this decision on your own? What other factors in your financial picture should be considered? What is the goal for these funds versus your risk profile?

The value of the expertise of an experienced financial adviser should be factored into the decision rather than simply focusing on the low cost of simply making the investment.

If your focus is cost, perhaps you’ve heard of or used a low-cost asset-management platform commonly referred to as a robo-adviser. These computerized, digital investment tools provide prospectuses and other financial details, making it easier and faster to get your money into the market. But easier is not necessarily better. While you believe you are making an informed choice based on what you read, is it the best choice? Most robo-advisers do not offer advice and expertise; just the facts ma’am.

However, if your focus is value, then you want to engage the services of a registered investment adviser. Investment Advisor Representatives are held to a fiduciary standard, meaning that they have the responsibility to put your interests above their own and are required to disclose any conflicts of interest.

Many of the robo-advisory companies receive additional revenue from the fund companies whose investment options they offer, potentially creating conflicts with how they choose to structure portfolios.

Where Advisers Show Their Worth

In terms of your long-term investment goals, a good adviser will ensure your risk profile is consistent with your portfolio and take into account where your investments are held, such as in a taxable or tax-deferred account. He or she may caution you to avoid chasing the latest shiny new investment opportunity or reacting to daily or weekly fluctuations in the market, because when the markets are doing well for long periods of time, people tend to forget about risk and the impact of sudden volatility. This can be when they are most likely to ignore their tolerance, or lack thereof, for risk because the market just keeps going up.

The points at the top of markets and at the bottom of markets are when your adviser’s input can be most valuable. One mistake at either of these two inflection points may cost years of returns or irrevocably damage your portfolio.

Would you rather learn from your own limited experience and mistakes, or work with a professional with the wisdom and knowledge of navigating the ever-shifting investment waters?

If your goal is to save for college or retirement, where is the best place to put those dollars? What type of securities work best for someone in an accumulation phase? These are very important questions, and the wrong answers could make your investments significantly less effective.

For instance, contributions into retirement plans that were effective in growing portfolios may be ineffective or at more risk for someone who needs to draw from their portfolio. Shifting your retirement dollars as your need, risk profile and income changes, and knowing when to shift before you are adversely impacted, is critical. Not making these decisions at the right time could result in financial loss or otherwise affect the portfolio in an unanticipated way.

How a Second Set of Eyes Can Help

But you have done well on your own and have never had a formal portfolio review, why should you now?

Because even the best athletes in the world have coaches.

We all have blind spots and biases preventing us from making our best decisions. This is why it is beneficial to get a third-party objective review or analysis from a professional who can identify possible trouble spots before you make investment decisions or help correct past ineffective decisions before they result in harm.

Professionals help because:

  • Not being aware brings the risk of a lessor chance of success.
  • Being made aware and being guided on how to make prudent changes may increase the chance of success.
  • Having professional assistance from the start, working with someone who can keep you aware and also has some degree of accountability may even further increase your chance of success.

Besides your health, your wealth is the most important component of your future. A trusted financial adviser who is philosophically and fundamentally on the same page with you can help you avoid pitfalls and steer you carefully toward reaching your long-term goals.

So remember, if you were able, selling all the components and elements in your body would net you $160. That amount does not take into consideration the priceless characteristics and traits that define us. Likewise, investing on your own to save money ignores the immeasurable value of being equally wise enough and humble enough to seek financial advice in order to secure the best possible future for you and your loved ones.

Advisory Services offered through MACRO Consulting Group, a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission. MACRO only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.

About the Author

Mark Cortazzo, CFP®, CIMA®

Senior Partner, MACRO Consulting Group

Mark Cortazzo, CFP®, CIMA® is the founder and senior partner of MACRO Consulting Group, an independent wealth management firm located in New Jersey. He offers expert financial advice as an Investment Adviser Representative and retirement planning specialist. With over 25 years of experience in financial services, Cortazzo has been profiled in many publications and has earned numerous industry awards and accolades.

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