Financial Planning Principles

Financial Planning Principles

When choosing a financial advisor, it’s critical that you agree on a common set of beliefs to ensure that proper expectations are set.  Therefore, I felt it would be helpful to make my specific planning and investing principles readily available.  Below you’ll find my Financial Planning Principles.  If you’re interested in my Investment Principles, click here.

Financial Planning Principles:

In order to be successful financially, you need a plan – The financial plan and the planning associated with it is the identification of goals that you have for life followed by strategies designed to give you a higher probability of reaching those goals.  Just like you wouldn’t get in your car to drive without a destination in mind and an approximate route to get there, financial planning is much the same.  As Yogi Berra put it, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”  Our conversations are designed to help you identify what you would like to accomplish and then identify conscious choices to help you get there[1].

In coordination with above, we are planning focused. – Regardless of whether they admit this or not, many firms are either primarily investment or insurance focused.  I believe that a decision made in one area impacts the decision in another, so we look at the total picture and make recommendations in every area of planning while keeping the big picture in mind.  For example, you might have charitable and family oriented legacy goals.  Given this scenario, it would be important to know that insurance, IRAs, and taxable accounts are each treated differently at the federal and state levels for estate and charitable purposes and should, therefore, determine who receives each account.

Financial planning is not precise. – It is adaptive.  Throughout retirement, markets, inflation, incomes, goals, and health changes.  In short, life happens.  A plan that sits on a shelf couldn’t possibly account for all that life throws at you, so we adjust our strategies to accommodate as your life changes.

Control the things we can control – We will not pretend to know in advance which way the market is going to go this month or next month. (Nor should anyone else.)  What we do know is what the historical averages have been.  This, at least, gives us a baseline to establish conservative expectations to develop your plan.  Focusing on what we can control, rather than what we cannot, can set your mind at ease knowing that we’re doing all we can to get you to where you want to go.  For example, we can control our asset allocation, total fees, behavior, how we fund the plan, and how we account for various known risks.  These are the drivers of success.

Details Matter – Many people focus on the big aspects of financial planning, primarily investing and life insurance.  But so often, it is the details that can wreck a financial plan.  For example, having an ex-spouse as a beneficiary or a lost relationship as the executor of your estate can be extremely problematic.  When it comes to your finances, every detail matters.  We will examine each area of your finances to ensure the details are addressed.

Plan for the things that can go wrong, so you can invest for the things that can go right – Even the absolute best investment portfolio can be undone if you are not prepared for life’s what-ifs.  Having significant health issues during your working years, car accidents, lawsuits, a disability or countless other unexpected circumstances can alter your retirement if not properly planned for.  Again, we cannot control what happens to us, but we can prepare.

Good planning has a long time horizon – We view every client relationship as a lifelong relationship.  This is a significant advantage because we can evaluate how every possible strategy might impact your long-term financial health.  As an example, considering decisions today that may significantly reduce inheritance taxes decades down the road is the epitome of a long-term viewpoint.

Last, but not least, trust is everything – I treat every client and the advice provided as if they are a member of my family.  I encourage an extremely transparent and open dialogue with regard to every penny that clients pay whether that is a payment to me or to another company.  Knowing what you pay is critical because costs matter.  Long story short, I’ll tell you anything you want to know, most of the time before you even ask us.

Given that you may work with your advisor for decades, knowing what to expect from your advisor and their belief system is a defining factor in the success of that relationship.  This is why our first meeting is simply a meeting to get to know each other and see if we can agree philosophically. Assuming that’s the case, we can proceed into discussing specifics of your financial situation.  See more on Our Process.

 

[1]A quick note: I interchangeably use the terms “I”, “We”, “Us” and “Our”.  The “We”, “Our”, and “Us” that is referenced is me (Ashby Daniels) plus any member of the Shorebridge Wealth Management team or that of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., though not any specific person.  These views are my own and are not intended to be representative of Shorebridge Wealth Management or Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.  Please visit my Disclaimers page for additional details.

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