The Verus Team

Avoiding your “Edging Incident” - How do you Use and Engage Professional Service

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When my wife and I first bought our house in the Washington, DC suburbs, I was met with my first yard since I lived at home as a teen, pre-college.  I swelled with pride one Saturday spring morning as I hopped out of bed and prepared to go out back to the shed in the yard.  There would sit the lawn mower that the previous owner left behind.  I was going to embark on the mowing and lawn work that a new proud homeowner, with a yard, must now invest.

As I went to walk out the door, geared up with yard gloves and goggles (imagine the sight), my wife asked me what I was doing.  I proudly exclaimed that I was going to mow the lawn and edge the yard.  She looked both quizzically and amused at this announcement, because she followed it with a quick “Why?”  She then suggested that we hire a lawn service to do the job, and added that it made no sense to do-it-yourself and spend that time and energy on a weekend.  To which I simply informed her, that I was indeed capable of mowing a lawn, and saw no reason to hire someone to do something I’ve done before.  These were the duties that I would now assume as a new homeowner.  My wife simply shook her head in that knowing way that I was making a decision I was going to regret.

After several minutes of pulling on the mower chain, only after finding the gas tank empty and my needing to take a quick run to the station.  I returned and finally got the mower going.  Then, engine humming, I began to do the task of walking back and forth in a straight line for what felt like forever…  I was quickly reminded why I would often try to get out of mowing the yard at my parent’s house as a kid.  I was sweating profusely, the mower kept cutting out, and after working 60-70 hours at my “real job” during the week, I was spending precious weekend time doing tedious yardwork.  What was I thinking?  I was already tired, two hours in, and I was only halfway done.

To make matters worse, my foray into edging the walkway ended with me shooting a big chunk of dirt and rock through the back window of my car, shattering it into pieces.  Yes that really happened, and to add insult to injury, my wife witnessed the event as she was just leaving the house to go spend her late morning in a more relaxed, productive activity.  As she was pulling out of our driveway, in the car with all of its windows, her earlier amusement had turned into all out hysterics.  I can still see the tears of laughter streaming down her face as she drove away howling a big “I told you so”.

Needless to say, that was the last time I mowed my lawn and embarked on the time consuming task of yardwork.  Despite my earlier thoughts, I realized that mowing and yardwork was not worth my time or energy, and it was time for me to delegate those responsibilities to a professional who is paid to do the task, and quite frankly, better at it than myself.  I chose to pay for, and delegate those services in order for me to have time to spend on other activities, while also providing the confidence that my yard is being properly manicured and attended.

It is not so different than the types of people we interact with when it pertains to financial planning and investments.  There are those that operate like the do-it-yourselfer, whereby they direct their own plan and investments, and they look toward professional services, potentially, as a way to gain some access to tools or resources.  This is someone who may take things on themselves because they are interested in the field, experientially qualified, or do not see value in paying for the service.  There are many reasons one may prefer to approach professional services this way, and like my lawn example, often well intentioned.

There are also those that after thorough discussion and deep understanding of priorities, goals, and needs, will hand over the majority of their respective investment and planning responsibilities.  This is someone who is typically comfortable with delegating to trusted partners, and are primarily interested in high level feedback and information.  Trust is established, and there is usually an interest in this person wanting to spend their time on other priorities, or someone that is seeking experience and skill sets in an area they may not possess.  

The last person is someone who likes to both be a bit more engaged in the education and process of investing and planning, but will ultimately defer to someone who is the professional in the field.  Trust is a big factor here as well, and with using the example of my lawn service, I like to collaborate with the team on potential treatments or projects I would like to consider for the upcoming season.  I ultimately defer on how best they would like to execute the plan, because frankly they have the time, energy, and where-with-all to complete and achieve the task.  In essence, it is a partnership-like approach, and I am relying on them to execute, implement, and offer insights and advice.

When I embark on professional services, and depending on the level of sophistication in expertise, I can be any of the three people listed above.  As my wife rightly pointed out years ago, however, I am often better served when I delegate or collaborate with the real professionals.  Even when the expertise and sophistication involves a task like mowing a lawn and doing yardwork, my wife will often point to the “edging incident” as the stark reminder that I should not quit my “real job”, just keep doing what I do well, and trust the professionals in the areas I am not equipped.

When you think about the way you engage in professional services, especially financial services, which one best represents your approach?  Hopefully with the right professional relationship, you’ve avoided your own “edging incident”.  Where it was relatively easy and inexpensive to repair the car window after my stupidity, it can certainly be a lot more impactful with one’s money and investments.   Whichever way you tend to lean when it comes to your finances, make sure you have the right professional accessible.  This is an area professionally - financial services - I do know something about, being that it is my “real job”.

 

Working with a financial professional does not guarantee a favorable outcome.