Broker Check

Our Retirement Planning Process for the Middle Class

| May 05, 2016
Retirement Planning

Financial-planning based process

Provides analysis before you make any financial changes or commitment

Fiduciary Standard:  Acting in the best interests of the client.  Putting the clients' interests above the advisor.  Fully embracing the Fiduciary Standard wherever regulations & laws permit it.  Please also see the Fiduciary Tab for more information.  

Complimentary Consultation: 

Based on your goals and your specific facts & data

  1. Conversations with all of the relevant decision-makers and asset owners.
  2. Review of actual documents (not yellow pad or screen shot summaries.)

Retirement Income Planning: Each person might have her / his own definition of a secure retirement.  It could be "X" amount of "money in the bank" ... investments ... or perhaps a monthly income amount.  A great many clients are happiest when:

  1. A monthly check (these days - electronic) hits their account "automatically."
  2. That deposit is guaranteed both lifetimes
  3. That amount has the possibility of going up and being locked in.

Holistic Planning: Many elements of your situation may not currently be nailed down to your own satisfaction.  You might not be aware of some or all of these items.  This lack of "Big Picture" planning could put your retirement or your spouse's retirement at risk.  Many other elements might and perhaps should be covered as part of your estate planning goals. Holistic Planning should be done in the areas that concern you ... but not on the topics that you do not care about.  Please also see the Holistic Tab.

Evidence-based stock index Investing:  Stock / equity Investments that are based on indices, some well-known such as the S & P 500.  Broadly and fairly often, a stock index investment's underlying costs are much lower because index performance is known every business day.  Highly paid "Money Managers" making decisions on buying or selling "winners & losers" are rarely part of index investing. Research has shown that persistently outperforming a stock index such as the S & P 500 is rare.  And clients rarely benefit from outperformance even when it happens.  So the client's expense ratio can be lowered considerably, which many feel is usually in the clients' best interests.  I agree.

Insurance Needs & Cost Analyses:  At some point in the distant past, insurance was perhaps simpler and more straightforward than it is now.  So pure product proposals could be made at no charge.  Now, things are more complex and this part of Holistic Planning might fall under some kind of Planning Fee Structure:

  1. Can you reduce your coverages & / or costs?
  2. Can you safely drop coverage that is no longer needed?
  3. Can you get more coverage at the same cost?
  4. Are there gaps that could put you or your spouse / partner in big financial trouble at / near retirement with no time to recover?
  5. Are there choices you didn't know you had?

No dollar minimums or exclusivity required: We do not set an arbitrary minimum dollar amount to accept a client.  And we do not require exclusivity.  However, to meet our obligation to serve your interests, we do require all of the data and documents.  (Various sponsor and / or product providers may, however, set dollar minimums for specific items.)

Fees:

  • Transparent
  • Multiple formats
  • Appropriate:

Transparency Before you obligate yourself or make any changes, fees should be disclosed legibly and clearly

Multiple fee formats

  1. "AUM" (Percentage of "Assets Under Management")
  2. Flat fee
  3. Hourly

Appropriate fees:  $300,000 in AUM fees, even over a 30 year period, is in my view too large for a $1,000,000 "advisory" account.  Many in the industry charge this kind of fee but "include" a certain level of Holistic Planning without an additional charge.  But often the Holistic Planning ... from the clients' own perspective after discussion ... is inadequate.  

Flavors of Financial Folks:   Don't go to a Neurosurgeon for your Primary Care
In financial services widely defined, there are many different flavors of people. Buying one specific product or using one specific service from a specialist may be in your Best Interests.  "Back in the day," before the public sometimes objected, access to a medical specialist was sometimes restricted by a Primary Care Doctor who served as "gatekeeper."  The theory was to avoid unnecessary and / or overly expensive care for a given medical condition.  Free markets mean these restrictions don't much exist in medicine or finance.  Just don't expect a comprehensive analysis and diagnosis of your complete situation from a "neurosurgeon" / specialist who provides only one product or service.  

Conflicts of Interest ... can take many forms.  An RIA, for example, is legally required to operate under the Fiduciary Duty.  Some RIA's might have a narrow business model.  Some might offer one service -- "Managed Money" paid for on a percentage of "AUM" basis.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that narrow model.  But one narrow model doesn't fit everyone