Work Smarter, Not Harder

I met with a personal trainer this morning who told me I need to work smarter, not harder. I’d been doing hour-long weight lifting and aerobic workouts five days a week, which poses greater injury risk and, potentially, long-term heart damage. He told me I could achieve a higher fitness level, reduce injuries, and just be healthier by working out less, and modifying other detracting behaviors.

He evaluated some basic movement patterns and asked me lots of questions about my exercise and health history. Then he told me, in a roundabout way, I’m killing myself for very little gain when I could step back and focus in on some foundational aspects of my health, especially my diet.

It was hard not to liken this to the work we do with our clients in their finances. The similarities are almost endless.

Lots of the people I talk with work long hours and endure very stressful job or business pressure to earn more income. Then they put their money in investments they don’t understand. The rationale? They don’t have time to understand it. They’re too busy.

From my perspective, this is a fairly common approach. People pay hefty fees to leave this due diligence to advisors and the companies they represent, in part because they’re overwhelmed by their own work and information overload. In short, it’s just easier to hand it off to someone else.

The big investment companies know this about human behavior and they take advantage of it. For example: “Target date funds” are promoted as a set-it-and-forget-it investment. In fact, they usually serve as the default investment in retirement plans when participants don’t make an election as to what they want to invest their contributions in. But this convenience comes at a cost. Target date funds are almost always made up of shares in other funds, and have higher expense levels than the funds they’re made up of, even in the lowest cost fund families.

I’ve said it here before. There is no product or advisor that will be the solution to your financial stress without your active participation. If someone tells you otherwise, be skeptical. We take great pains to engage our clients in our process and we stop working with people who don’t.  We’ve seen how it ends.

Our process is uniquely designed and tailored to maximize the efficiency of each client’s financial resources. Smarter, not harder.

In the work I do, I see people struggling to work more and faster every year just to keep up.  And then fritter money away in small and large amounts that they don’t have to. Just like this trainer identified that I’ve been laboring in the gym with inefficient movement patterns and over compensating, while at the same time, not getting the sleep I need or maintaining proper nutrition and hydration.

So I’m guilty of it, too. We all have room to work smarter. In the end, this is what will afford us more time, and allow us to take a well-deserved break.