Questions In Search of Answers

As of this writing, I haven’t left my house for eight days but to take Jeep for walks up and down the street. Snow was a beautiful thing on the first day I woke up to it, but on day three, I quickly realized that I was over it! I find it difficult to write in January because my brain is full of so much stuff to talk about and share. I felt the need to write one of those blogs entitled “The Top Things to Do in 2024″ but finally said forget it. Frankly, there’s enough of them out there and most of them aren’t very good.

I had an old friend from my high school days in Knoxville reach out to me late last year. It’s always great to reconnect with folks like him. We’ve both been in Middle Tennessee for most of our working years, but had never seen each other. As one might expect, we spent the better part of an hour just reminiscing about people and common memories. We’re all used to using Facebook for things like this, but it’s the sound of a real voice that makes my day.

Eventually, our conversation came back around to what exactly I do as a Comprehensive Financial Advisor. As my friend is getting ready to retire, he had several questions to ask me. Many people think they know what I do, but really don’t until we sit down together and have the conversation. My book, Castles & Moats, was written to help dispel a lot of the most common misconceptions and myths. In conversations with quite a few people from my past and present, here are a few of the thoughts and questions shared with me:

  • What does a financial advisor do and how can they help me?
  • I have an advisor, but how do their fees work?
  • Why is this so confusing? Why does everyone seem to have a different story?
  • If I read that the S&P 500 Index was over 24% last year, why was my return so low?
  • When I hear “we do well when you do well,” what does that actually mean?
  • Some advisors only recommend annuities – how do I know if they are in my best interests?
  • What exactly is the “fiduciary standard” and how can that benefit me?

See the confusion? I could go on, but I read that seven is a good number when creating lists. I think it might have come from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is one of my favorite books. In “Castles & Moats,” I often recommend people read specific chapters depending on how the conversation goes. In the past couple of years, I’ve really focused on the chapters deep in the “Castles” section, which is where I can comfortably use the phrases “Professional Explainer” and “Financial Psychologist” while breaking down all of the myths and mysteries of the seven bullet points above.

Now that you’ve received all of your 12/31/23 investment and retirement statements, and perhaps are not sure how to read them, maybe it’s time to finally hit reply. If you own my book – and I hope you do – focus on the last ten chapters, since that’s where you’ll find the answers to the above questions.

I’m already gearing up to write my February blog as I’m seeing all of the predictions for 2024 from money managers, economists, and so called “financial gurus.” As always, I’ll print them, put them in a file, and later go back to see how many of them got it right and more importantly, how many got it wrong!

So Happy New Year 2024 to each of you. I hope it’s an amazing year and that you live each day to its fullest. Thanks for your continued readership and the 2-3 minute investment in my thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!



**Investing involves risk including the loss of principal. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

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Brian E. Carden, Insurance & Financial Advisor
Phone: 615.506.0300

Securities and Advisory services offered through Madison Avenue Securities, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment advisor. Past market performance is not indicative of future performance or success. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.