So you want to “go it alone?”

Commentary by Adam Cmejla 

I firmly believe that everybody needs to have a relationship with a competent, trustworthy and reliable advisor, and I believe that need only increases as your wealth, situation, and age increase. Obviously I’m a bit biased, but I believe I’ve come up with a great story and analogy that illustrates this well.

I tend to try and relate complicated financial topics and situations into realities that I and others can comprehend. Being an aviation enthusiast, I’ve used flying and being a pilot in many situations, and I feel this may help connect the dots on the value, role, and responsibilities of an advisor.

You want three things when you fly. At the core of air travel, everybody desires and wants to experience three main things: you want to take off and land safely, you want to get where you’re going, and you want to get there on time. That’s what we are paying the airline (and the pilot and crew) to do for us. That’s also what you want your investments and financial plan to do. You want to get to the proper destination (retirement, college education, etc.) and you want to get there on time and safely. The various investments and vehicles that you use are the airplane and we as advisors are your pilot.

I didn’t build the airplane. There are two obstacles that every honest, hard-working, and trustworthy advisor will face. The first is that we did not build the airplane. XYZ Investment Fund or ABC ETF built the airplane (investment). So en route, if we encounter some mechanical difficulties or repairs that need to be done, it wasn’t because of me. I didn’t cut the dividend of an investment, I didn’t cause a temporary fall in account value. I am simply the pilot; they built it.

I’m not paid to predict the weather. I’m paid to react to the weather. I know there will be rough patches ahead, but I’d be lying to you if I knew exactly when and where they would be. If I did know, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Based off of a map, I may have a sense of where it might be, but we’re not going to know until we experience it. So there may be times when you’re looking out the window and everything is clear and it’s smooth cruising. There may be times when I tell you to fasten your seatbelts because we’re encountering some rough weather. But when the journey is over, I’ll get you to where you need to be (retirement, etc.), safely and on time. That’s my responsibility and duty, and I understand the magnitude of that task.

Now, think of the last time that you traveled from IND and where you were going. Imagine getting to the gate and finding there are two planes going to your destination. One has a pilot, and one doesn’t. The one that doesn’t have a pilot has a computer in the pilot’s seat with access to some “do it yourself” software and a copy of the POH (Pilot’s Operating Handbook) and it’s your responsibility to learn how to fly the plane and get to your destination, safely and on time. Which plane will you board?

Adam Cmejla, CMFC® is President of Integrated Planning & Wealth Management, a comprehensive financial services firm located in Carmel providing comprehensive retirement planning strategies to individuals near or in retirement. He can be reached at 853-6777 or