Earlier this month marked the 45th annual running of the New York City marathon. As I watch the beginning of the race on TV, something struck me. First, The idea of so many people completing such a physically daunting challenge of running 26.2 miles is pretty amazing. Second, the 1st place winner completed the 26.2 mile race in just over two hours. Also mind-boggling. The average person at their physical peak would struggle to run 1 mile in 5 minutes and the top finishers are able to repeat that for 25 more miles. I think I saw a recent winner finish the race and do a push-up, now that’s impressive. For many first-time marathon runner’s, the goal is to finish the race under four hours. So can an average person run a marathon? Many people would say it beyond their capability. However, I would deviate from this assumption. Finishing a marathon is very achievable. In fact you can find many training programs online which outline how to train for marathons. The challenge is not in the plan: start at 3 miles and add 1-2 per week for 5 months usually is recommended. But the real challenge to a marathon is NOT how but actually doing the training.

At this point, I could make the natural connection of investing is more like a marathon than a sprint but I will save that for another segment related to asset allocation. Planning for a marathon isn’t difficult.

On a similar note. Sometimes the perceived value of a financial planner is exclusively in the developing the financial plan. As if a financial plan can be presented and a client can walk (run) away to their financial freedom. I wish it were that simple. Nike coined the phrase “just do it” but often that “is” the biggest obstacle. To be clear, a comprehensive, personalized financial plan is not easy to create as anyone who has completed The certified financial planning CFP (r) program will tell you. My Point is, the value of a good financial planner is someone who can help you understand and implement the plan that is created. In other words, you aren’t paying someone to tell you that you need to save more money now to spend more money in the future. The value of a financial planner is to Connect you’re goals with solutions to Achieve your goals with various levels of confidence. Even to the point of helping a client decide if running a four hour marathon is too aggressive or not challenging enough. Interestly enough, many people who understand the value of a financial plan will admit that they know what to do but still have not done it. Simple steps: obtaining the right amount of life insurance, contribute to their company matching retirement plan, revisit their business marketing plan in the middle of the year. Unfortunately, great opportunities are lost by not starting today. Many plans are not successful not because of bad investments or bad recommendations but simply because they were not started or continued. There is a old saying “the hardest step is often the first step” and having someone to help you throughout the process often is the key component of a plan.

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