We sometimes find it hard to get our clients to focus on the main thing. In this day in age, it’s so easy to track performance of an investment that some lose sight of the big picture. Sure, rate of return is absolutely important. But does your rate of return really tell the whole story? We don’t think so.
I was at a conference this week, where there were many different financial advisors listening to many industry leaders talk about how to give advice, what new technology is available to assist in giving advice, and what studies say about how clients want to receive this advice. Call me old fashioned, but some of this conversation is still missing the point; financial planning isn’t so much about numbers, as it is about conversation, process and follow up.
The party conventions are over. The political cycle is ramping up. And there is a great deal of noise and fury in the media about the presidential candidates and what the election could mean for business and markets. I write today, to you, MY constituents, investors, with my thoughts. It is not partisan, it is not agenda driven.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to make decisions. The more important the decision at hand, the more likely there are multiple factors or variables that we have to consider. What’s the last big financial decision you had to make? Taking a new job? Deciding when to retire? Moving? Planning a vacation? Juggling two kids going to college at the same time? These aren’t small items.
We live in an age where information is abundant and cheap. How many of us read mainstream media headlines instead of seeking expert opinions and doing research? How many times have you gone to Google or YouTube to find answers to your questions or watch a “how to” clip?
It’s now law. More financial professionals are going to have to act in their customer’s best interest. For those of you that like to read the news of the day, it was just a couple weeks ago that the Department of Labor announced a new fiduciary standard that governs corporate retirement plans, like 401(k)s.
It’s been almost 7 years now that I’ve known a very sweet lady I’ll call Anna. I met her through the most unfortunate of circumstances. Her husband had passed away. Her emotional loss was compounded by her lack of understanding of her financial situation. She had never had to write a check, let alone balance the checkbook. Anna needed help.
I’m not a perfectionist. But I certainly do try to get things right the first time. So it’s upsetting when things don’t work out like they were planned. The key for me is to focus on progress, not perfection. There is little sense in wallowing over something that didn’t work out. Rather, find a way to overcome the problem by fixing it and come up with another plan for how to move forward.
Pop quiz: How much cash should you be holding?
- A) 3-6 months of your monthly expenses
- B) 1-2 years of your expected withdrawals from savings
- C) Cash is king -You should be 100% allocated to cash
If you hold too little, you risk needing to rely on credit or having to liquidate investments. Having to liquidate investments could be costly, either in fees and expenses, or in “realized loss” if the investment happens to be depressed based on the market. If you liquidate, you remove opportunity for it to potentially recoup those losses.