As you know, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates recently, and we've gotten several questions from clients wondering
Method to Our Madness
By: David Smyth, March 2, 2017
Whether you're a client at Family Financial Partners or you don't work with us yet, you may have noticed that our team approach looks a little different than other financial planners or advisors. First and foremost, what sets us apart and makes us unique is that we have a team of folks who are truly all in this together. Typically, within many other practices, we find that advisors are siloed, in that they have their own book of business, and they don't share clients or work within client accounts that aren't primarily the folks they deal with.
For those of you who've worked with Alex or me within the confines of our office at any time during the 15 years he and I have been doing business together, there's a good chance that those of you who meet with me have also from time to time met with Alex, and vice versa. We do this not to create confusion with you about who your primary advisor is. We simply believe it's important that you see that the message you'll receive is the same, whether you're now meeting with Alex, Brandon or me. The delivery might be different, as we're all different personalities (you can say that again, right?). But from time to time, we have had a client finish a phone call and immediately call back to talk with a different advisor - not that they don't trust us, they just want to hear another opinion. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the same opinion is rendered.
This synergy in the advice you're receiving exists for one reason only - our team communicates on a daily basis about what's happening in the markets, tax updates, planning changes, retirement changes, and any other areas that might affect the collective plans of our client families. In addition, we actively discuss client families' situations that we work with so that there's more than one opinion for their particular planning scenario. Additionally, each of us has specifically focused on certain areas in financial planning, and so at times one person can bring a little more to the conversation. Simply put, we rely on each other to keep up with the animal that is financial planning, and the attention it needs.
The second thing that makes us different is that, after we complete the initial series of "hellos, how are yous, what are your top financial priorities, let's find out more about you and then offer and implement solutions that meet your needs," we then create a communication plan that's specific to you. We'll get back together with you to review and remind you of what we've accomplished together, and then we ask you how often you'd like us to follow up with you over the next six to 12 months.
This eliminates the guesswork from what you expect as we make sure we see you enough times to continue to get to know you, and help you continue on a good path. In the meeting leading up to your annual renewal, we'll ask how many times you'd like to sit down with us over the coming year. For some people, more meetings are needed, but for many of you, it's fewer - we've gotten a lot of the heavy lifting done, and you want to enjoy life!
Based on your individual response, that sets the bar for how often our office will follow up with you for regularly scheduled meetings. I find that this doesn't happen enough in the financial services industry, as too many operate by the approach of what client is having a fire today, versus our approach of organizing your financial life while growing your investment assets in order to help you realize your dreams.
Keep in mind that just because you've told us to call you every so often for either an in-person, conference call or Facetime meeting, that doesn't mean we won't contact you if there's something in particular in your financial plan that needs to be addressed in a timely manner.
Lastly, for those of you who are paying us an annual fee to create a financial plan for you, we take the time on a meeting-by-meeting basis to update the financial planning checklist we created for your family. This includes any outstanding to-dos, long-term financial reminders, and potential investment opportunities. Most importantly, we provide this to you after the meeting in order to remind you what needs to be done while also celebrating the progress you've made.
I have people frequently ask me why I include investment opportunities on a planning checklist, and my answer is that, just as your financial plan is unique, every year in the financial markets, there are unique opportunities to be had based on where the economy is in the economic cycle. We'll look at interest rates, inflation, and overall investor psychology. We build investment theme lists so you're not surprised by our ideas, and so we can continue to build a diverse portfolio for you - whether you just retired, or you received a $100,000 bonus at work, or you simply saved up ten grand and want to know what to do with it. We can look at your checklist and know whether equities, alternative investments or bonds are of better value for you.
At the end of the day, when you work with us, it does come with a cost. We aren't robo advisors, and we aren't robo financial planners. We are a group of gifted individuals who have chosen to work together as a team. We collectively believe that, over the long run, your interests will best be served in a team environment where we all bounce ideas and concepts off each other on a regular basis, and keep you engaged in the process through regular meetings. We put on paper and in our eMoney software a road-map for your financial future. This way, when you call and ask us how you're doing, we can give you real feedback.
Finally, it's that time of year when the days are getting longer and people are congregating and socializing again. As you're talking with your family, friends and coworkers, keep in mind that for every 10 people bragging about making money in the stock market, only one or two have actually sat down and developed a financial plan with a professional.
Typically, our clients already had a financial advisor when they started working with us. For the majority, it was a single-person or two-person shop. I'd appreciate it if you'd give me the opportunity to sit down with anyone you know so I can tell them what we do and find out if that's something they're currently receiving. If they are, great. They're taken care of. But if they're not, maybe we'll be able to work with them at some point down the road.
So keep us in mind as you're out and about, and let me know if there's someone I should sit down with for coffee, lunch, or an adult beverage. As you know, I'm always excited to make new friends, and if I can do business with them, well, even better.