When people think of a Financial Advisor they often fixate on short term portfolio performance. But is this the sole purpose a well trained FA can serve? Or even the most important? To be sure, just as a great personal trainer can add tremendous value to your physical health, there are many ways an FA can enhance your financial life.
The process of identifying key goals and setting forth a plan to achieve them is one of the greatest areas of value a professional can provide. Imagine if you went to a gym and the Personal Trainer put you on a treadmill and told you to walk for 30 minutes. He is assuming your goal is to lose weight. But what if instead your objective is to put on muscle, learn about injury prevention, or to run a quarter mile in under 90 seconds? The point is, all effective personal training (as with financial advice) must be done in the specific context of what the client is trying to achieve.
By working with someone who can help you clearly identify goals, set forth a plan to achieve them, and keep you from getting off track during challenging times, that professional can add substantial value above and beyond what they are traditionally known for (i.e. having you do exercises, buying stocks). Indeed, just the fact that you have a PT – someone to hold you accountable – can mean the difference between getting up at 6 am to head into the gym or hitting snooze by knowing someone is there waiting for you and calling you out if you don't show up. Similarly, having someone to talk you off the proverbial ledge when you feel like taking action during market declines can be priceless in keeping you from taking potentially harmful long term action to satisfy near-term emotional needs.
Here are just some of the many things an experienced, disciplined, rational Financial Advisor can do for you:
- Goal Setting: Whether health or money, the process should start with clear short and long term goals.
- Financial Planning: Projecting out over one's financial time horizon and anticipating key events will help to drive the investment strategy.
- Portfolio Management: How should assets best be allocated to achieve various financial goals?
- Portfolio Rebalancing: Periodic rebalancing can help to reduce risk and enhance returns.
- Tax Mitigation: Knowledgeable Advisors can work with your CPA and other professionals to undertake annual tax mitigation work where appropriate.
- Assistance with Stock Gifting: A professional can help you create and execute a plan around annual or one time gifting.
- Assistance with Verification and Other Administrative Financial Matters: Often clients need verification of assets or other items when applying for a mortgage or similar situation. Advisors can assist with this sometimes complex process.
- Ongoing Education: An effective Advisor can offer regular newsletters, seminars, books and other resources to ensure you are educated to the level comfortable for you.
- Hedging: While not often found with traditional Advisors, some FA teams have collective decades of experience using options to hedge individual positions (including concentrated positions) as well as portfolios at large in order to achieve a myriad of objectives including increasing income, reducing volatility, and providing downside protection.
- Cash Management: Optimizing income earned on cash by searching the universe of cash management products can be a valuable service
- Assistance with Required Minimum Distribution (RMDs): Top Advisors stay current with the applicable rules and help to calculate and disburse required annual distributions from various qualified retirement plans.
- 401(k) Analysis: Even when not under management at your Advisory firm, some top Advisors as a courtesy may periodically review your retirement accounts outside their firm to ensure they are optimally invested for your circumstances.
- 529 College Saving Analysis and Management: Whether for your child or grandchild, setting up and monitoring a 529 plan can be one of the greatest things you can do for the next generation. The rules associated with such plans change periodically, and an FA can help you navigate the latest rules and remind you to contribute regularly.
- Third Party Professionals: A Financial Advisor with deep experience can provide introductions to CPAs, Estate Attorneys, Mortgage Brokers and other professionals as well as act as a conductor to coordinate and optimize the various aspects of your total financial picture – investments, tax, estate, etc.
One's financial life can be complex. Often, we don't know what we don't know which is why working with professionals who dedicate their lives to a particular field – be it medicine, law, finance or otherwise – can help us avoid costly mistakes and achieve our important goals. At Coastwise we offer decades of experience navigating the ups and downs of the markets along the way, as well as assisting clients with their unique financial goals and circumstances. Contact us today to see how we can be of service to you.