We specialize in providing comprehensive, integrated, personalized solutions to help business owners, professionals, executives, and retirees develop and implement complex estate, income tax, business succession, retirement and investment plans. We put the emphasis on each client’s unique needs, not a prepackaged set of solutions or ideas. We specialize in the numerous challenges faced by our clients and have developed a team of professionals that thoroughly understands their unique problems and opportunities. That translates into measurable and meaningful results.
The spectrum of professionals who claim to offer financial advice is a broad one — so broad, in fact, that it can be difficult to define exactly what “financial planners” are and the kinds of skills they should bring to the table in their work with clients.
Let’s be clear: Financial planning is not purely about investments or insurance. The problem is that the title “financial planner” and the term “financial planning” have been used for marketing purposes by many in the financial services industry to sell their investment or insurance services, when what they are actually providing clients in not really financial planning.
To call him- or herself a financial planner, a financial professional should be trained and have demonstrated competency in multiple areas of finance, including cash flow, investments, retirement, tax, estate planning, risk management and insurance, and education funding. Professionals must also be able to demonstrate their ability to integrate the applicable areas into a cohesive plan that helps individuals determine if they are on track to achieving their stated goals. They should carry the CFP® or equivalent designation.
The CFP board identifies 7 steps to a cohesive financial plan:
Is your Financial Plan a bespoke suit or a ready to wear suit?
A bespoke suit is made completely from scratch, designed specifically for a single wearer. The process includes up to 50 measurements, assessing the wearer’s posture, and selecting the right fabrics and details. Small details about the wearer’s lifestyle are also considered. After the fabric is cut and loosely sewn together, the tailor makes modifications and customizations based on this first fitting, followed by second and third fittings to refine the final garment. This takes time and money, but is the best fitting suit you will ever buy.
The vast majority of men’s suits worn today fall into a category known as “ready to wear.” You go to a clothing store, pick a suit off the rack, have a tailor make a few adjustments, and it’s likely to be a reasonably good fit. Lots cheaper and takes no time to make.
Can you see the parallels to the financial services industry?
Today it is all about product distribution and speed of delivery and canned plans and gimmicks. You see, the “ready to wear” product or plan is one that can be done quickly, and mass-marketed. I have found one of the most deceptive terms in the planning world is Asset Allocation. Why? Because it uses a simple questionnaire to determine your risk threshold and then plugs those answers into a software to create the “perfect” model of investments. You might want to call that type of plan, an “off the rack” plan.
We stubbornly create our plans from scratch and design each one specifically and uniquely for every client. Yes, it takes more time to create, requires more in-depth questions and numerous meetings, but the final product, like the finely tailored suit, fits perfectly and is designed to last through many cycles of the economy and markets.
All our advice is tailored to each customer. We spend the time and resources it takes to make sure we understand their needs and objectives and how to meet those needs and objectives in the best possible way. That means that we have acquired or developed the technology and experts to create efficiencies in the plan which motivates our clients to improve their situation based on the advice we give.
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