WHAT WE BELIEVE
What you and your financial adviser believe is as important as the tactics you employ and the products you buy. Such an understanding is essential to withstanding the inevitable downturns in both the markets and life. Since we realize that many of our potential clients have never thought about what, if anything, they believe regarding their financial plans, we wanted to share our core beliefs.
The purpose of a financial plan is to chart a course, identify actions, take steps, and measure progress of your journey from your present financial reality to your desired future financial condition.
Financial planning requires trade-offs regardless of how little (or how much) money your family has. Common trade-offs include maximizing current standard of living vs. accumulating wealth or limiting portfolio volatility vs. increasing long-term returns, but the possible trade-offs in your family's plan are virtually unlimited. But, what's the best choice? That depends upon the values, resources, family dynamics, and goals of each family. In other words, the trade-offs that work best for one family will almost never exactly fit another family. Financial planning helps identify the constraints and choices that you face and then identify your unique path.
A well-designed financial plan expands and protects your future choices against the uncertainties of life. Can you access cash when you need it? Will you be able to provide support for kids and grandkids in need? What happens if you die prior to completing your working career? How will you preserve your standard of living if the market declines and takes your IRA with it?
WHAT WE DO
Where You Are
“The man pursues a great variety of goals, but the one he seeks as his ultimate end is happiness. Everything else is a means not an end.
Financial planning is intended to chart a course from your current financial reality to your hoped for future financial condition. In other words, just like taking a car trip, your route depends on both your destination and your starting point. However, unlike a road trip where the GPS can tell us within a few meters our current location, our current financial position is often less certain.
In order to identify our client's starting points we help them prepare two items: a balance sheet and a present cash flow. The balance sheet summarizes a family's assets and liabilities. Assets can be viewed as potential sources of future income while liabilities are claims against that future income. For example, a family's house might be available to fund retirement income through a reverse mortgage. But, any existing traditional mortgages reduce the value of the house that can be unlocked to provide retirement income.
The present cash flow summary helps us understand the family's current standard of living. This is important because it often represents a baseline for retirement spending. In addition, the present cash flow summary provides an estimate of the amounts that a family can be reasonably expected to add to the assets on its balance sheet.
“the measurement of success should be income. Income is how one determines their desired standard of living. You don’t need a principal sum to live. You need a certain level of inflation-adjusted income.
— Robert Merton, Nobel Laureate Economics
Where You Are Going
Where you're going in your financial life can often be reduced to a number but that number really represents its own goal. For example, your retirement portfolio number is the amount that can be converted to an inflation adjusted income that you cannot be outlived. Is a $250,000 retirement account enough to satisfy your lifetime income? Or, do you need a $1,000,000 retirement account? Every family has a different amount.
Why Portfolios Fail to meet your plan
Often people mistake the portfolio for the plan, but the portfolio is not your plan. However, since your portfolio is the engine for your plan, it's important to understand what can cause portfolio induced plan failure. So, why do portfolios fail (and therefore cause plans to fail)?