September 2017 Opening Thoughts

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Back in 1978 when I first got involved in the investment business, I worked with a couple of older gentlemen who focused on selling mutual funds, limited partnership units, and term life insurance. Being a young man, I was fascinated by the investment world. I enjoyed the fancy conferences and glossy brochures. But more than that, these two men were financially independent, and I wanted that.

Being young and wanting to learn, I asked them a lot of questions and observed very closely how they served their clients. Over time I became aware that their focus was very narrow and their knowledge was limited. For instance, they only touched on the tax ramifications of their investment suggestions in a broad-based, superficial way, they could only explain very basic concepts when it came to naming beneficiary designations, and they never tied their investment or insurance recommendations to the accomplishment of their client’s long-term financial objectives. It was a shock for me – I was affiliated with salesmen!

I wanted to be a wealth advisor. I had this idea that if I was going to be making financial recommendations, they should be well thought out and truly in my client’s best interest. Call it ego or pride, but I wanted to earn the trust and respect of everyone I worked with. I never wanted to be one of those people who duck into another aisle at the grocery store when a client is coming their way, for fear of what they may be thinking of me. I wanted people to know me as a wealth advisor, not a salesman.

With lots of years at my desk, classes taken, certificates earned and the hiring of wonderfully competent staff, I’ve built that holistic wealth advisory firm I originally envisioned. Holistic, according to Webster, is relating to or concerned with the whole or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts. I hope you see the implications of this and that it resonates with you, as it does with me. I’m passionate about this!

If you work with “advisors” in a piecemeal fashion, the burden for long-term financial security and success is thrown back in your lap. You are the one left to figure things out. And, sadly, you are the one who pays a very steep price for failure.

You should be able to trust the advice from the person who calls himself or herself your wealth advisor. And that is why we have developed our “wealth integration review” process. It is this process which methodically walks us and our clients through a holistic review of their financial situation and concludes with a step-by-step action plan to a more secure financial future.

I’ve had many people tell me that they thought their financial foundation was adequate or “strong enough.” But after going through our review process, which is complimentary, they were very surprised by the gaps and cracks they had in their financial situation – that they didn’t even know about. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book, Before It’s Too Late, which is full of retirement and estate solutions many people overlook.

As you know, complimentary means free, free of charge, gratis, for nothing. Why would we do this? Well, this is how we demonstrate our holistic style and professional competencies in providing wealth advisory services. This can be a five to ten hour endeavor, including the input and work of multiple professionals and client meetings. Sure, we could write all this up in a glossy brochure and mail it to you or try to explain it to you in a phone call. But, this is something you just can’t put into words – and do it justice. You have to experience it!

I must admit that I sometimes ponder the path I’ve chosen these last four decades. The two mentors I had “way back when” were financially independent. Meanwhile, forty years later, I’m still working on financial independence. Hmmm… I think I could have made more money over the years if I took short cuts, focused more narrowly, looked out for my own interest, and SOLD, SOLD, SOLD. But, alas, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.

So, instead, I’ve purposely focused on three keys:

Developing our professional credentials and collaboratively providing top-notch wealth advisory services. Of course, these “credentials” are a given. Above all, we value a high level of integrity and acting in our client’s best interest. This business requires a trusting relationship, so we endeavor to earn that trust and build the relationship. In times of personal stress, you need help from someone you know, and from someone who knows you. We can work with you and your family to ease some of the burden and help make prudent, objective financial decisions.

Customizing a personal financial plan for each client who wants one. We see that people who have created a thoughtful financial plan are often more successful in reaching their goals. We work with our clients each step of the way in order to help them build a customized plan designed to meet their unique requirements. What’s more, we continue to modify and monitor their plan so that their investment plan continues to meet their needs as years turn into decades.

Designing an investment portfolio with a methodical “buy” and “sell” discipline, which allows for tactically adjusting the asset allocation based upon what is happening in the economy. This is a risk management technique which allows us to take full advantage of market gains, but minimizes losses when the market declines.

And, these seem to be the keys to the success of our firm and the growth we’ve enjoyed. Most of our new clients come from referrals from other satisfied clients. This, I can live with.

Warm Regards,