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I have been working out with a personal trainer for over ten years to help me reach my fitness goals.  Six of those ten have been with the same person.  It took me awhile to find the trainer I was most comfortable with and that would create a plan tailored to my needs.  After going to the gym every week for the past decade, I began to think that I could create my own workout plan with the same results.  I subscribe to Women’s Health Magazine and I am always reading articles about health and fitness.  In addition, my husband and I just built a house with a home gym.  Why couldn’t I train myself?

So I created an excel spreadsheet that has columns for all the muscle areas I want to exercise each week, diligently clipped new exercises I wanted to try from magazines and downloaded a workout app for my Ipad.  Every Sunday I would cobble together my routines for the upcoming week.  Although I stayed disciplined and would perform the indicated exercises, something was missing.  It was hard to find the variety I wanted for certain muscle groups because I was limited to the equipment in my home gym.  My form suffered when there wasn’t anyone to correct me, at times resulting in back pain.  And some days I felt like I was just going through the motions.  It can be hard to stay motivated when no one is looking!   

About a month ago, I decided to go back to my trainer, Doug.  I could tell a difference from the outset by the familiar feelings of muscle fatigue and increased energy.  When I was at the gym this morning and Doug was correcting my technique while I was doing crunches, it made me realize how similar our jobs are.   

As Chip has blogged in the past, we all know what we have to do to be physically fit – move more and eat less – but if this was as easy as it sounds, our nation wouldn’t have an obesity problem.  Doug has the expertise to know what combination of exercises will help me to reach my goal of remaining healthy and fit without causing any injuries that will derail me.  Having someone measure my results each year to keep me accountable and motivate me if I get off track allows me more time to focus on other areas of my life.  I’m not spending more time on physical fitness than is needed only to experience an inferior result. 

That’s what we do as financial advisors – listen to our client’s goals and then create a plan to help them reach them as effectively as possible.  When market gyrations cause our client’s anxiety that could lead to them abandoning their discipline, we help them to stay the course.  A recent study confirmed that one of the strongest predictors of maintaining one’s portfolio allocation was using a financial advisor.   

Sure, you could research how different types of investments correlate with one another to create an asset allocation, choose which companies or mutual funds to buy and then monitor their performance.  After experiencing a bull market for the past 4 ½ years, this may even seem like an easy undertaking.  But will you have the fortitude to make it through years like 2008 without a guide to ensure you do not make an emotional mistake that could delay your retirement or other financial goals?  Maybe – maybe not.