R-E-S-P-E-C-T Your Assets
Last month we were saddened to hear of the passing of legendary musician, Aretha Franklin. What was even sadder to us was finding out she passed without her legal work in place- no will or trust that was known of. People are often surprised when famous people die without their financial affairs in order- but even people who get their estates in order forget to update them.
Here was this legendary woman who sang an anthem that everyone over the age of 5 knows the words to- RESPECT, and yet she had no plan. This was not a dumb woman or a scattered artist. She was known not to sing until the check cleared and was a shrewd business woman. But in the end, she never prioritized her personal estate documents enough to get them done. When asked about it, her manager said he encouraged her to do it, but she never completed it. How often have you been there? You know you have to manage a budget, freeze your credit, review your savings and investment plan and update your legal work, but it never gets done. We bet you do your taxes each year, but only because it’s the law- and some of you, we know, wait until the very last minute.
We believe that people who work hard should not squander their opportunities that come from that gift. We believe that they should protect themselves and those they love from losing the fruits of that labor. To do that, a few things have to happen.
The first thing is about RESPECT. You have to respect yourself enough to care. You have to respect yourself to put in place risk management tools like insurance and an emergency fund to take care of you if tragedy happens unexpectedly. You have to respect yourself enough to want to be able to provide for yourself and your loved ones in the future should your earnings cease- either by a chosen retirement or because you were downsized. You have to be able to respect yourself in order to manage your cash flow to maintain both your risk management tools as well as regular savings. And finally, what Aretha didn’t do- you have to get your legal work done so the people you want to have your money when you’re gone get it, or can make decisions for you should you become incapacitated and can’t take care of yourself.
Second, it helps to have a team of advisors you trust. At a minimum, a CPA, an estate planning attorney, a financial planner and an insurance agent can all be invaluable at educating you, helping you make decisions, nagging you until you follow through, and then regularly reviewing your decisions. It’s always surprising to us how many wildly successful people come through our doors for the first time who have not been working with a team and have a financial picture that reflects it. There is clearly no plan or strategy, decisions are made spontaneously and on gut emotions, and usually they are missing a lot of information that pertains to them. Some have been too busy to get it done, some don’t like working outside their expertise, and some are just too embarrassed to ask for help, knowing they should have done it a long time ago. What they have in common is a huge burden being lifted off their shoulder when they make the decision to get it done and make it a priority. Having a planning team is like having a personal coach- it helps the goals get met.
If this describes you, listen to Aretha’s words instead of following her example. R-E-S-P-E-C-T your financial life- you deserve it!
Only 44% of Americans have a will. (Gallup)
Do you have a Fiduciary? Should you?
By Stephanie Guerin, CFP®
You may not know this little gem of a fact, but not everyone out there has your best interests at heart. Some people even put their own interests ahead of yours. Sometimes this doesn’t matter much. For example, if the checkout girl takes a break just as you approach the counter, it won’t make a huge impact on your life. However, if the people giving you financial advice are serving a business higher than you- it can be a problem. Without getting too ‘inside baseball’, for the last decade or two there has been a heated debate inside the financial industry about whether everyone in it should be required to be a Fiduciary or not. This hit a high when the market imploded in 2008 and the government took notice of the debate. There has a been a lot of back and forth of legislation, and now it looks like it will not be mandated. Advisors choose their business model and if they have the requirement to be a Fiduciary or not within that model. It determines everything about their business.
What does it mean to you? A Fiduciary cannot legally put their own interest ahead of yours- that’s the definition. If you do not have a Fiduciary giving you financial advice, it can mean lots of things. You may be working with someone who has a direct benefit for selling you certain types of products which may or may not be in your best interests. They may be compensated differently depending on what things they sell you. And they may not be compensated at all if they sell you nothing. The common thread is sales- they are selling you products. While this isn’t always a bad thing, you need to know what you are getting when you enter a relationship with an advisor and why. Ask them first if they are a Fiduciary. Know how they are compensated and ask them about conflicts of interest. At every transaction, ask them the last two questions again. The more they disclose, the better. Ask for it in writing.
A Fiduciary, especially those of us who choose that business model and bring on a higher standard of compliance and reporting to do it, are proud of our role. We will happily disclose everything. It’s not to say we can’t make mistakes or don’t have conflicts- but we will own them and share the information with our clients to help them understand that we want to be sure our interests are aligned with yours.
“But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Market Update: Longest Bull Market in History?
8-31-18 YTD Dow 6.7%
8-31-18 YTD S&P 500 9.9%
8-31-18 YTD World EX US All Cap -2.2%
8-31-18 YTD US Agg Bond -1%
There is a lot of talk out there about this being the longest bull market in history this month. That would be really cool and could also make people starting thinking- “Wow the bear is coming anytime”. Except, the fact that it’s the longest bull market in history is well, bull. Richard Henry Suttmeier did a good job documenting in Forbes on August 21st that since the bottom of the market on March 9, 2009 there have actually been four bull markets followed by four bear markets. Yup- you read that right- and his documentation is correct. The thing is they were all brief cycles and only one of them that we can remember did anyone even ask about. The BIG Bear that people worry about can come at any time. Which is why you should prepare for it. A tornado can come at any time as well- but we’re willing to bet you don’t spend most of the time in your basement. You just prepare for it and live life. That’s good investment advice as well.
The views expressed represent the opinion of The Planned Approach. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. While The Planned Approach believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and The Planned Approach’s view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties.