By Shehara L. Wooten
Over the years, I've heard this saying and I believe it to be true. As a financial planner, I believe it is imperative to track and be fully aware of your net worth aka “wealth”, which is your assets minus your liabilities. However, numbers tell a story. If you speak with anyone about their net worth they will tell you what was involved in arriving at their own net worth whether it was an investment, an inheritance, a bankruptcy, or a large loan.
“Your net worth is tied to your network.”
There is always a story behind the numbers which is usually linked to people. Your “Financial Capital” is only one facet of what is needed when it comes to building wealth. When it comes to building a strong financial future, I want to dispel the notion that one must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps in creating one’s own definition of financial freedom. Contrary to popular belief, it takes community—a community of like-minded individuals on seemingly separate paths coming together to create and make their financial dreams come true. No one does this on an island. No one “makes it” by themselves. It takes collaboration.
Porter Gale, author of Your Network is Your Net Worth, states in an article entitled, Why Your Network Is Your Net Worth, “I believe your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio. I believe that seeking out and working in collaboration with others who share your interests and values will provide a stronger foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own.” What a powerful word to embrace, “Social Capital”. I believe creating harmony between your social capital and financial capital allows you to eliminate the selfish pursuit of wealth. I truly believe it keeps you grounded. I also think it's a fun way to develop relationships along the way and create memories that last a lifetime.
There are two aspects of your wealth that enhance your social capital on your journey to financial freedom as it pertains to our collaboration being the new currency.
Those aspects are having trusted advisors and a community around you to help you along the way.
The Need for Trusted Advisors
The power of community is displayed in the form of hiring trusted advisors. As a fee-only financial planner, I am a fiduciary under obligation to act in the best interest of my clients and to provide unbiased financial advice. I think it's important to have a fiduciary financial planner on your team. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I have gone through training and a rigorous examination which allows me to provide financial advice in multiple areas for people seeking a financial planner. There are resources by which to search for a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor/planner. Those are napfa.org which is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, Fee-Only Network and XY Planning network. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional will hold you accountable, educate you on your financial situation so that you can reach your financial goals, help you to prepare for anticipated life transitions, and provide objective insight on your financial situation to help you focus on what matters. There are many professionals that wear the financial advisor title but finding one that is a fiduciary and acts in your best interest is imperative.
Other professionals that are extremely helpful and important to your team are a tax advisor and an estate planning attorney. The tax advisor, who can also be a Certified Public Accountant, will help you navigate the tax implications of your financial decisions. Another professional to have on your team is an Estate Planning attorney so that you can prepare a will or trust to have in effect upon your death. It is important to utilize professionals so that you are tapping into reliable resources on your wealth journey.
Friends, Family, and Group Programs
Just like building our financial capital takes deliberation and intentionality, building our social capital takes time and devotion as well. Using the Net Worth Equation as a framework, it is important to take an assessment of the people in your life that are valuable to you who would be considered an asset and the people in your life who are considered liabilities. Who are they? What role do they play in your life? How do they make you feel? What are their goals in life? How do their goals align with your goals? What are their strengths? What are the areas they need to develop? How can you meet more people like the ones you consider to be assets? These are a few of the questions to ask yourself as you are building your community and social capital. When I read the book of Genesis in the Bible, I’m reminded that “…everything produces after its own kind.” What “kind” of people are in your network? You should also do the same exercise for those people in your life that are considered liabilities. How can you make sure you are creating a positive net worth when it comes to your network and your social capital? It’s important to take an honest look at who is in your network and determine how to create more opportunities to meet more people that enhance your life.
When it comes to finances, I find that there is power in community and working towards financial goals with like-minded individuals and those that have achieved more than you. Just like a team of advisors will hold you accountable, there is nothing like having a network of people in agreement to link up with that are pursuing similar or greater financial goals than you. For instance, an article entitled, “How to stay committed to your goals: Tell someone more successful than you, says new study”, states,
“…that sharing your goal with a higher-up does more than keep you accountable, it also makes you more motivated, simply because you care what this person thinks of you.”
Accountability and motivation are immeasurable qualities of a strong community.
As a financial planner, I help people move from unsure or anxious about money to confidence so that they can achieve their own definition of financial freedom and have the peace of mind and security they seek. Recently, I decided to start a group coaching program to provide professionals with access to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, education, accountability and community. It is great for those who don’t have that community of like-minded people to surround themselves with or who want to increase their social capital and also want access to financial education. To learn more about the program reach out to Shehara Wooten, CFP® at yourstoryfinancial.com.
Gale, Porter. (2013) Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age. New York, NY; Atria Books.
Ohio State University. (2019, September 8). “How to stay committed to your goals: Tell someone more successful than you, says new study.” HeadTopics.com