By Daniel Goodwin
As we begin to set our sights on 2020 I want to suggest to our readers that you consider going into the new year with an approach and game plan that perhaps you did not have in the past. This might require that you enlist the help and support of a team. An advisory team that is wholly committed and equipped to assist you and your family’s quest for financial success. These are the seven non-negotiable things that I would want for any of my friends, family, clients and associates.
1) Fiduciary – Today an investor can no longer subject themselves to the old sales pitches that have been far too common in the financial services industry by broker dealers, dually appointed agents and insurance sales people who call themselves advisors. Today the Fiduciary is the gold and legal standard for advice that is in the clients best interest first and foremost.
2) Team - Both Internal and Strategic. The one man band of the past is the most sure way for a clients needs to be underserved. To provide the planning and multi-disciplined approach that clients require today requires an internal and strategic planning team. At a minimum there should be subject matter experts in Tax, Income Planning, Insurance, Portfolio Management, Legal and Estate Planning. Today’s top team include CPA’s, CFP’s, Tax Attorneys, Institutional Portfolio Managers and client facing advisors. A good team allows an advisor to offer clients a comprehensive and holistic approach to retirement planning that includes all aspects of personal finance, taxes, insurance, cash flow and estate planning.
3) Advanced Expertise – Advanced planning teams should be able to bring the ideas and strategies to clients that can lower taxes both now and in the future and well as mitigate risk to portfolio’s. Advisors should have the experience and capacity to serve high income earners and high net worth clients, as well as those who have more complex business structures. This almost always requires advanced strategies not common to basic financial planning and management.
4) Alternatives – Advisors cannot, I repeat cannot serve their clients best interest today with only the stock and bond portfolio’s of the past. High level advisory teams should be well versed in alternative investments including real estate, private placements, deferred compensation plans, active management strategies, private pension plans, insurance planning, and many other options and solutions that should be examined as part of a well-conceived retirement planning strategy.
5) Chemistry – You and your advisor should share a common chemistry as a way to work well together. The advisor should speak to you and use language and illustrations that are compatible to your unique way of learning. Yes you should actually look forward to meeting with your advisor. If you do not share this common chemistry or worse if meeting with your advisor is like nails on a chalkboard run, don’t walk away. Find someone who you can work well with. You have too much at stake to accept anything less.
6) Backbone – At times your own human instincts and emotions will cause you to want to do the wrong thing at the wrong time with your money, not to mention for all the wrong reasons. Study after study shows investors consistently are their own worst enemy by chasing performance, abandoning discipline, panicky capitulation in down markets, and by application of individual stock selection. You need an advisor who is just that, an advisor and not a facilitator. This means the advisor needs to have the gumption to tell you when you are about to make a bone head move with your money that could derail your future financial security. A good advisor should be willing to fire a client before they participate in a client destroying themselves by imprudent decision making. It’s even worse when advisors are getting paid in the process. A good advisor will push back when necessary and remove you from their firm when need be.
7) Passion – Forget good, Jim Collins famously said in his classic book “Good to Great,” that good is the enemy of great. You need a great advisor team if you aspire to make the most of your personal financial world, and that is going to take an advisor with a burning desire and passion to see you succeed. In fact, that passion should be clear in obvious in every aspect of your advisors business. It should show up for you in the communication, attention to detail, obsession in making sure you are on track to reach all of your financial goals, and in a genuine desire to see you with a new and higher level of confidence and understanding about your financial future. If you are not feeling that with your advisor then move on. Again, you have too much at stake to accept anything less.