Merrill Lynch was taken over by Bank of America. General Motors and Chrysler were handed billions of dollars. The average Wall Street executive “earned” a bonus of more than $120,000. When the economy began to tumble and red became the color of choice on CNBC, everyone panicked. But when things went from bad to grab-the-kids-and-run-for-the-shelter, the financial sector, auto industry and $1,000-tie clip-wearing Manhattan big wigs had help.
Odds are, you didn’t. But just because you don’t have shareholders and offices on multiple continents doesn’t mean your finances don’t deserve outside help. Here are the five professionals that should be highlighted in your Rolodex and on your outgoing calls list at least once a week.
The lead-off hitter on any CYA team has to be an accountant. Look, there’s a reason these guys spend their free time playing with Excel and can do long division faster than a calculator—accountants live and die by numbers, and they can make even the most complex, plus-and-minus-signed financial statements easy to grasp. If a bill doesn’t make sense, if your business is being audited, if a collections notice is dropped in your mailbox; an accountant is the person to call. You may not have peeked at next month’s page on your calendar, but hopefully the giant red circle around April 15 sticks out enough to remember Tax Day isn’t far off, and an accountant can plow through a W2 form faster than you can say “What’s a dependent?”
Like a 6-foot-6-inch, 225-lb. on defense against a two-on-one breakaway, an insurance representative is crucial to avoid crisis and find a solution if a problem presents itself. Not carrying insurance is like bungee jumping without a cord—All of your assets and savings are put at risk, to say nothing of the argument for your physical health. Health insurance, homeowners insurance, car insurance, life insurance—there are an extraordinary number of policies to wade through. But think of the alternative; think of not putting in your 6-foot-6-inch, 225-lb. defender. Why? To put someone else on offense—to take more risks?
We’ve all been there: A store, eyeing some fancy thingamabob, with two voices in your head. The first, angelic, telling you to keep walking and save for the future; the second, tempting, urging you to grab your wallet and start swiping. Ideally, the only voice you would hear is your certified financial planner’s, because a CFP is able to dissociate any emotion from your spending habits. They look at your finances and upcoming purchases, determine what is feasible and carve a path to connect the two. And they’re equally adept at saving, whether it be for something tangible like a car or house, or milestones like college or a vacation.
If you ever wind up in the penalty box—and I sincerely hope you don’t—you’ll be glad you have a lawyer on your side. And not just any lawyer: Making an 11th-hour call to the guy who advertises on a pizza box isn’t going to do you any favors. Build a lasting relationship with a lawyer by speaking with them frequently, to amend a will or just get advice. That way, when you really need a lawyer’s expertise, be it to defend yourself in court, plan an estate or prepare for a divorce, the conversation doesn’t start with, “Hi, my name is…”
Accountants, insurance reps, CFPs, lawyers—all these professionals work with what you give them. But what if you need personal coaching, someone not to work with your finances, but with you. That’s when you grab your life coach off the bench, to give the team the (mid-season, fourth-quarter, Monday morning) surge it needs. They may not be number or legal whizzes, but life coaches are excellent motivators. They are able to connect on a level that doesn’t involve dollar signs or spreadsheets and offer advice and encouragement. Often times, that’s all it takes to get your ducks in a row.