YOUR FINANCIAL JOURNEY, YOUR WAY
Strategy outperforms comparison
Many people use others as a benchmark when examining their own personal progress toward accomplishing their financial goals. Doing so may lead to resentment regarding another’s perceived – but not always accurate – golden lifestyle. More importantly for the team effort between a financial advisor and client, this misplaced focus wastes time and resources.
In a recent Harris Poll, 40 percent of respondents admitted they are guilty of “trying to keep up with the Joneses.” They acknowledge that seeing information about other people’s purchases and vacation prompts them to want the same even if those things were not part of their original plan. Worse yet, many acknowledge that the success of others may cause them to lose hope for improvement in their own circumstances.
“I cannot stress enough to my clients this goal: ‘let’s work on what you want’ and let’s move away from comparing yourself to your friends, family and neighbors and most certainly away from comparing your financial situation to what is happening in the Dow or the S&P,” said Robert Stanlick, managing partner and co-founder of Rocky Mountain Wealth Partners, [[C. “Doing so only causes panic and takes focus off from the goal of accomplishing their own personal financial goals.”
Based in Colorado Spring, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Wealth Partners strives to guide clients away from thinking about what is happening in the stock market
and toward thinking about how far they’ve come on their own journey.
Stanlick’s goal is to help clients to open up to him regarding their goals for the future. He wants to learn about their past financial experiences and how that impacts the way they interact with money today. He knows clients often initially are hesitant to talk about the connection between their finances and the goals and lifestyle they seek but facilitating this provides him with valuable insight.
“The more you, as an advisor, can learn about the client –
for instance, their dreams and how they process information – makes it much easier for the advisor to tailor the program and presentation to them without overusing charts, graphs and other materials that may have no meaning to them at all,” Stanlick said.
Stanlick’s approach is to teach clients the “how” and “why” as it applies to their personal situation and then follow-up regularly asking if they have any further questions.
It is a method he learned back in 2008 during the stock market’s housing bubble crash.
“Calling people and asking them what was worrying them goes a long way toward making them feel more secure,”
he said. “I told them, ‘my job is to do the worrying for you. I want to be the one to take the ulcer. Tell me what
is bothering you (which he adds usually originates from a news blurb on TV) and I will tell you if your portfolio is being affected.’”
Stanlick said it is his job to calm those fears, and if there is reason for concern, he said being upfront about it is the best approach.
“You have got to be able to tell them the good news and the bad news,” he said, adding that having a strategy for moving forward from any scenario is key to retaining client confidence.
And several strategies may be considered or employed when planning and preparing for retirement.
For some clients, early retirement is a viable approach. For others, waiting to engage Social Security’s monthly payments until age 70 is a better strategy. Evaluating how to protect wealth through using proper types of insurance – perhaps including long-term health care riders is a consideration. Other clients may need to continue working part-time into their golden years to maintain the lifestyle they desire. For some, working longer than they anticipated they would back in their 30s and 40s is best for their physical and mental health now that they are approaching 70, 80 and perhaps even 90 years of age.
Whatever strategy is chosen, Stanlick seeks to make it as individual as each client is.
He knows his clients need more than just financial guidance. They need help from other professionals, and he is happy to provide just that.
Rocky Mountain Wealth Partners works with estate planning from qualified attorneys with expertise directly in that field. It is essential for clients to have expert legal advice when selecting their beneficiaries and setting up provision for their loved ones after their death.
Stanlick often thinks about writing a book titled, “What Your Advisor Really Wishes You Would Ask” geared toward guiding clients in the process of setting aside their embarrassment or social qualms when talking about money.
But if there is one message he desires to communicate to each client, it is this: Stop comparing your finances to the daily activity in the stock market and the news reports that follow it.
“All that amounts to is something to give the talking head on TV something to talk about for eight hours a day, five days a week,” Stanlick said. “It doesn’t help you toward your goals. What we really want to focus on is building you a quality life.”