” eradicating our ability to Ourselves? Louise Agnew So how do we press the refresh key on thinking for ourselves and find these facts amongst the online haze in order to live a life we have personally forged and created rather than followed in a popularity contest, in which we only feel more self-conscious and lame compared with those who have gone before as thought leaders, celebs, and notables we idolise in our world today? Simply…the five simple truths to finding your inner expert: 1 2 3 Never follow someone who has become a breakout success and try to follow in their footsteps. We all know a few who have struck it lucky, and therefore relate their own professional and personal success to your situation, convincing you it’s possible for you too. Considering their success as specific to them, question how they got there, what qualifies them to provide such advice (even though it may be difficult to detract from the fame and sexy-looking keynote speaker we might swoon over (no, I have never done this!!), and assess how it could be more relevant to your personal needs and financial situation. Find specific journals and white papers written by industry professionals and not a collaboration of a group of housewife journalists writing for a blogfest on the topic of finance and money with little specific qualification on the subject matter. Find credible resources rather than online blogs and success bloggers who just know how to herd the readers to their blog by offering quirky titles and self-professing expertise. 4 5 Look at regulated government sites and not for-profit information sites like moneysmart.gov.au to provide the latest updated information relevant to your circumstances. Watch their client stories, reviews, and YouTube clips of people in real life sharing and collaborating on their successes. REMEMBER: There is still and will always be a REAL place for professionals with several qualifications, numerous certificates, and longstanding experience in one particular area. Best to seek out a financial planner, mortgage broker, or real estate agent who has seen at least one market cycle in their lifetime and experienced both highs and lows in their own careers and lives. People want to deal with “Real” people. Ask the hard questions and do your due diligence well before taking on the service of a popularised view! Pay for specialist advice. Everyone claims to be an expert, but a specialist has further qualifications, experience, and expertise beyond the generalisation of an expert. For instance, an Adv DFP or CFPqualified financial adviser or strategist with perhaps an SMSF specialist designation has undertaken a lot more formal training than a mortgage broker with a few years behind them and a Cert IV. Most specialists want to stand out and therefore they are avidly aware that further study and qualification will provide this point of difference to their personal brand and business. Conflicted remuneration “experts” always stand out. If their commissions come from one particular product and source, then buyer beware! These experts will often sway their strategies depending on what’s HOT in the market and change with the changing regulations and commissions that come with it. If you are being referred internally in a business, that’s a caution, but if being directed to a specialist in a company or external company then you are more safeguarded in someone having your best interests at heart, especially if the different companies are small businesses owners themselves. Reputation is key to small-business owners and your likelihood of being scammed, ripped off, or “sold to” are marginally reduced.