Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Show Me the Experts

First, today, I went to a computer store to get an adaptor switched. I was annoyed at having to go back to the store in the first place and when I got there a debate ensued about the problem. Eventually I got the new adaptor but I think it's actually a lack of compatibility. I was relying on knowledge on when I went all the way to the store and paid more than I would if I had ordered the adaptor online. The whole thing was a fairly annoying waste of time in a week where I'm tying up a lot of loose ends and moving.

Then I got a call. My tax return arrived, paying exactly what I'd suspected it would (score!). However, investigations revealed for the past five years way too much was paid to do my taxes erronously, errors worth at least $1500. That's right, based on "advice" from a "professional" - and a legit one, not some mall kiosk - not paying attention earlier to what was going on because I thought I had no income and therefore no issues resulted in errors on my behalf. I literally had maybe three relevant pieces of paper at tax time. It's not rocket science to offer a little planning.

The are going to get a letter inquiring what, exactly, they were paid for.

The error, for your interest, was picking the wrong province to file in, something that should have been incredibly obvious. Sadly, I'm not the first person from my professional background to have a similar error. I could have saved myself the fees, had my refund quicker, and had a better command over the paper trail (they were having me submit absurd things you don't actually use to file).

The fact is, few have your financial interests at heart. If someone is doing something you don't understand, just telling you they have a better understanding of the system and how it works, how willing are you to trust them? Smart people get bad answers from accountants, overbilled, and at worst find themselves Ponzied. There are great studies about how investors, people whose profession is to invest the money of others, actually do worse than a basic tripartite portfolio barely managed (see: Couch Potato Investing; tripartite being domestic/american/international splits). Similarly, accountants have given me nothing but grief this year. Every mistake is worth money, and not small amounts. It's amazing how much PF writing there is about 'errors at the till' and ways to save on ATM fees yet a serious lack of troubleshooting in checking the work others are doing for you.

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