The falling leaves, the autumn chill, and the spooky decorations festooned upon nearly every doorway and window aren’t just reminders that Halloween is right around the corner. They’re also reminders that you still have a ghost in your life: your financial advisor.
Every year, thousands of financial planning clients are “ghosted” by their financial advisors; left alone to deal with the furies of economic uncertainty and volatile markets.
As scary as it sounds, banishing that ghost from your life isn’t difficult to do, but it’s critical to ending your financial horror story and exhuming your long-lost peace of mind.
Call us crazy, but we believe that helping families, individuals, and business owners create a strong financial plan so they can live the life they want shouldn’t be a nightmare. It requires mutual respect, interaction, and trust. And yet, the financial industry is notorious for its lack of proactive client communication.
But before we go pointing fingers, it’s important to recognize that these unseen financial advisors aren’t the only ones to blame for their “ghostly” behavior. The true ghouls and goblins are the widely practiced and widely accepted traditional financial business models these advisors employ.
More Trick than Treat, the Old Financial Planning Models Reward Poor Customer Service
Just recently, we had a client come to us after being ghosted by her financial advisor … for seven years! Over the course of those seven years, she never received a phone call, annual review, or personal update about the status of her investments. Not even a cryptic email.
And this lack of attention cost her real money. While she was being ignored, so were her investments. She missed out on gains she might have received had her investible assets been shifted to not only realign with her goals, but also to accommodate the fluctuations in the market that had occurred over that seven-year period.
Why is poor customer service such a grisly problem in the financial industry? It comes down to the way advisors are incentivized. Big firms are driven by new business growth. So, too, are advisors. Bringing in monster-sized client accounts is where they stand to make the most money in either fees or commission.
When our client came to us after seven years of dead silence from her prior firm, we knew right away why she was a victim of “Traditional Big Firm Thinking.” Like many people, she simply didn’t have enough investible assets to be taken seriously by her apparition of an advisor. In other words, she couldn’t make the advisor as much money as other clients could, so the advisor contacted her nevermore.
Our Approach to Financial Planning is Centered Around Client Relationships & Communication
Most people are familiar with two common types of financial planning revenue models. There’s the “old-school broker” model where the advisor typically takes a 1-2% commission per trade but can take up to a one-time 7% on certain client investments. Then there’s the more modern “fee-based” model where the advisor is paid a percentage of the assets they manage for the client, but can’t help you with assets they don’t manage, such as your 401K or small business private equity.
At Stages Planning, however, we do things a little differently.
Financial planning is the tell-tale heart of our business, and our approach works like a financial planning subscription. We’re not reliant on commissions and we can advise you on any type of asset (whether we hold it or not). Instead, we work with you to create a Financial Road Map® that identifies where you are today and where you want to be in the years to come.
Our approach seeks to minimize conflicts of interest and broker incentives. Instead, we’re financial coaches and life planners looking out for your best interests. And, most importantly, you’re going to hear from us … regularly. We’re here for ongoing reviews of your accounts and whenever else you need our help.
No, it’s not witchful thinking. The model we’ve adopted is the Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) model, and it comes with a fiduciary responsibility to advise our clients no differently than we would our own families. And that’s exactly how we do it.
Financial Planning Should Be Personal … But Not in a Creepy Way
When we first sit down with clients to talk about their future goals, the conversation doesn’t start with a discussion of dollars. It begins by getting personal; by digging into their goals, values, desires, and unearthing what they want their life to look like down the road.
Once we have the end goal in mind, it’s time to chart a course and help them get there. Only then do we talk finances.
Financial planning is personal because there’s no magic dollar amount that every person needs to earn by the time they reach their retirement. The number is different for everyone and determining that dollar figure begins with a clear understanding of your life goals. And a Financial Road Map to identify where you want to go.
Contact us to start the first of many conversations about your financial wellbeing. Our team will work with you to develop your personal Financial Road Map® and chart a course towards your goals so you can live the life you want and deserve.
The Financial Road Map® is registered by Bachrach and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.