Ask Grace Pomroy: When Should I Contact a Financial Planner?

It’s common for people to think they need to be nearing a specific age threshold or making a certain amount of money to contact a financial planner, but that’s just not true. Financial planners can help you at every stage in life, no matter your income. And the best news? Many employers are now offering a financial planning benefit as part of their benefit suite allowing you to use these services for free or a reduced fee.

I had the privilege of connecting with Nicholle Overkamp, a financial planner and the CEO of Wilcox Financial Group, to hear more about the ways financial planners can help you reach your most important financial goals. Here's a summary of our conversation:

Grace: Tell us a bit about you …

Nicholle: I founded Wilcox Financial Group in 2012 with the mission of helping women and couples own their financial futures and feel confident about their money choices. I was tired of having to meet specific product sales goals. I wanted to work with folks on developing a plan — I didn’t want to be restricted by the products my organization sells.

Grace: What's your favorite topic to discuss with clients?

Nicholle: I love getting to know what lights people up — their goals and what is really important to them. This conversation sets the precedent for what financial planning needs to be done. Digging deeper into where they are and where they want to be opens up the Pandora’s box for me to find the right financial planning tools for them. Plus, it gets my clients excited and empowered to complete the steps that they otherwise wouldn’t find as exciting. As I find out what they want, I can take less “sexy” financial plans and make them right for my client’s individual needs and goals.

Grace: What services does your company provide?

Nicholle: At Wilcox Financial, we manage investments and broker insurance (disability, life, and long term care). We also offer fee-based financial planning to help people with their goals like paying down debt, retirement planning, and family planning.

I also own a second business: Powherhouse Money Coaching. A financial plan is great, but often times it’s not enough. Sometimes individuals need more day to day accountability. We offer coaching that wraps around a financial plan through weekly check-ins and monthly coaching calls. Over the six months of coaching, we focus on the emotions and behaviors keeping our clients from having a positive relationship with money.

We also have a six-month business coaching program for female entrepreneurs to help get them to the next level. For some, it’s making more money; for others, it’s a better sales process. They need to have a safe space to have those conversations, so we provide community, support, education, and resourcing.

Grace: What are some reasons why someone might seek out a financial planner? 

Nicholle: People come to us with questions like: Should we get rid of mortgage or get rid of other debt, and what’s the best way to do it? Where should I invest my money?  Am I on track for retirement? I recommend you seek out a financial advisor that does holistic planning like we do, whether you think you need it right now or not. You’re often blind to your own blindness. There’s always something someone who’s on the outside looking in can see. Everyone tends to leave things out or avoid things they’d rather not think about in their own financial life.

Grace: What should you expect from meeting with a financial planner?

Nicholle: Know what you are paying and what you’re getting in return. Know what the fees are, and what specifically you will get from the fees you are paying. Understand what the advisor is doing to help get you to your ultimate destination. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask more questions if you don’t understand what they said.

Grace: I'm guessing you've heard these responses before: "I'm too young to meet with a financial planner ... I don't make enough money." How would you respond to them?

Nicholle: As long as you are earning a paycheck, you are the right age to meet with a financial planner. You don’t need money to invest; you just need to have a conversation to see the things you should be looking out for. If you are younger and just starting out, it’s even more critical. A planner can help people understand their employer benefits and what benchmarks to reach. I can’t tell you how many people don’t elect the right benefits because they don’t think they will ever need them.

Grace: What might you focus on with someone who is just starting out?

Nicholle: A lot of conversation is focused on changing their perspective on how they are spending their money. For many clients, as long as there is money in the bank, they spend it. They don’t think about the consequences. People are afraid to say “no” to their friends. Talking through what you say “yes” or say “no” to can bring you a lot more joy and a lot less stress. We focus on where your money is going and what you want to spend it on — what will bring you the most joy in the short-term and the long-term.

Grace: What should someone look for in a financial planner?

Nicholle: Find a planner that you actually feel comfortable with, who you feel safe being vulnerable with and want to work with for a long period of time. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential planner: Can you help me reach my goals? Can you bring me to the finish line? And if you usually feel uncomfortable working with a financial planner, ask yourself: Am I just working with this individual because it’s the path of least resistance?

Grace: What's the best financial advice you've ever received?

Nicholle: It was from my husband. When I met him I didn’t invest in real estate. He taught me what to look for, what it’s worth, and why. Once you know where to invest, it’s a great way to diversify your portfolio by creating multiple streams of income.

Grace: Is there any financial advice you wish you would have received?

Nicholle: Yes! I wish I had received advice on student loans. My parents didn’t go to college. I would have appreciated advice on the other financial aid or scholarship resources available. I didn’t get as much as I should have because I didn’t know any better.  

Also, I wish someone had told me, “Don’t worry about what everyone else has, only worry about what you and your family need.” My first manager’s motto was to spend  your entire paycheck so you came back to the office hungry. I was young and followed that for a period of time — buying shoes and clothes. I was following the advice of someone I looked up to, but intuitively I knew it was wrong.


Connect with Nicholle and her colleague Sarah on their Wilcox Financial Group and Powherhouse Money Coaching websites and on Instagram @powherhousemoney. Nicholle has been kind enough to share with us her list of questions to ask a financial advisor.

Join me on Instagram and Facebook this Thursday, May 9, at 8pm Central as I explore the differences between a financial educator, coach, planner, and advisor, and what services you can expect from each.