Financial Planner Profile – Neil Vannoy

August 21, 2009

After putting together the financial planner websites with blogs list a few weeks ago I got a chance to meet a few of them in person at an event.  One of the planners I got to visit with was Neil Vannoy of Vannoy Advisory Group.

Getting Acquainted

Neil’s a Certified Financial Planner in Texas and apparently has a very charming wife.  As we chatted the first thing that everyone wanted to know when they stopped by to say hi was if his wife had come along.   I got a laugh out of it because it kind of reminded me of being a new dad. Everyone who comes to visit wants to see the new baby, forget about dad. Although his wife has been his constant travel companion around the U.S. and is part of the financial team, it turns out she wasn’t along for this trip so I didn’t get a chance to meet her.

Money Blogging

Neil’s an easy guy to talk to and we had an interesting conversation about sharing financial facts and information through blogging. 

He co-hosts a TV segment on his local NBC station called “Your Money Monday” where he answers viewer’s money questions. Neil tries to share a lot of the information from the show on his site, No Hidden Commissions.  Although he’s only been writing on the blog for a few months he really enjoys writing about money and investing, check out his list of the top investing myths.

Financial Planner Questions

After the event I emailed Neil some questions about being a financial planner and he was nice enough to take the time to send back the responses below.

Why did you become a financial planner?
I’ve always enjoyed doing my own financial planning – including researching investments, building portfolios, analyzing tax strategies, etc. – so it just made sense to make a career out of it. Like the saying goes, “find something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

What do you think is the biggest benefit that your clients gain from working with an advisor like you?
Most people don’t have the time, patience, or desire to learn everything needed to manage their finances and investments successfully. Finding the right advisor will help these people navigate the complicated world of financial planning and investing, and give them more time to focus on the things in life that are important to them.

What type of people, if any, should not hire a financial planner?
I think that everyone would benefit from looking around and seeing what types of financial planners are available. Years ago, hiring an advisor meant turning over your finances to someone. While these “full service” advisors are still around, individuals now have the option to work with an advisor on an hourly basis for a second opinion if that’s all they want.

What is the biggest challenge facing your clients today?  How do you help them with those challenges?
Without a doubt, uncertainty is the biggest challenges facing investors today. A big part of my job is helping my clients address and alleviate any uncertainty they face, whether it’s uncertainty about their jobs, changes in tax law, investment returns, or the economy as a whole.

What’s the most common mistake that people make with their money and why do they make it?
The most common mistake I see people making is waiting too long before starting to plan their financial future. In financial planning, time can be both an ally and an enemy. The earlier your start the better, because your investments will have more time to grow and compound. But if you wait too long, you’ll find yourself having to play “catch up” to reach large goals like college education for your children or retirement. That can be very stressful.

What do you do when a client has a question you don’t know the answer to?
It’s impossible for one person to have all of the answers, but that’s not a problem if you have a strong network of professionals to use as a resource. As a member of the Garrett Planning Network and NAPFA, I have an automatic network of professionals I can use for guidance. In addition to these networks, I have several CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals I can use as resources.

What don’t you like about the financial planning industry?
For far too long the focus of the financial planning industry has been on “selling” rather than “advising”. I think this has left most people feeling that advisors recommend products that are better for their pockets than their client’s pockets, and this is unfortunate.

What do you really enjoy about the financial planning industry?
Although this doesn’t apply to the financial planning industry as a whole, I really enjoy being able to earn a living and help people in the process of doing something I love.

What tips do you have for people looking to choose an advisor to work with?
Look for an advisor that is “fee-only”, meaning he or she never accepts commissions from his or her recommendations. This removes conflicts of interest and helps ensure that the focus of the advisor is on providing the best advice possible rather than selling a product for a commission.

What kinds of things should people expect to see on your blog in the future?
The stated goal of the blog is “to add a little clarity to the world of financial planning and investing”, so I plan on posting useful financial tips as well as highlighting some of the “insider secrets” that investors need to know before working with an advisor.

You can follow Neil on twitter or his blog No Hidden Commissions.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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One Response to Financial Planner Profile – Neil Vannoy

  • frugalgrad

    This is similar to the insurance industry. Sometime when you shop for insurance, you are wondering if whatever the agent recommends will provide you with the best coverage or it will just provide her with the fattest commission. Wondering if you can ask an insurance agent how much commission did they make on your plan.