This column will depart from my usual topics on investing and capital market behavior. It has been almost 20 years since I founded a small fee-only advisory practice in my back bedroom. At the time, the concept of avoiding commissions and built-in conflicts of interest that were pervasive in the financial advice business was viewed as unusual, if not a bit radical. Today, fee-only advisory firms are the fastest growing part of the industry. I’m proud of our firm and what it has become, and I want to share some of the most recent developments with those who matter the most – our valued clients.
1. My partner, Bob Lamse, and I both recently received Texas Monthly’s Five Star Wealth Manager award. This was the fifth year in a row that Bob has received the award and my eighth year. It’s nice to receive individual recognition, but the truth is that this is very much a team effort. And the team approach that the firm adopted several years ago is important. In fact, it’s a milestone in the evolution of most advisory practices. As a team, we bring together several more specific individual areas of expertise to benefit our clients. Every client has a backup to their lead advisor that can fill in when someone is sick or on vacation. And, the business model becomes highly scalable, allowing us to deliver a higher level of service to our client base as we grow.
2. We've had a great month for media exposure. The article "The Deceptive Nature of Averages," which you can read in our blog, was picked up by Advisor Perspectives and listed among the work of notable contributors. I also shared my not-so-subtle opinion on the value, or lack thereof, of cryptocurrencies in the Financial Advisor IQ article "Why Merrill Lynch’s Bitcoin Ban Is Likely to Continue."
3. Wealth management is certainly one of, if not the most, overused phrase in our industry. In fact, it is so overused that it has lost any clear meaning. Suddenly, everyone is a wealth manager, from the stockbroker to the insurance salesman, but wealth management isn’t about product sales. It’s about creating a truly comprehensive plan to help clients achieve their goals while taking only as much risk as is needed to do so. This process begins with a financial plan and that plan becomes the benchmark for measuring progress toward goals. For most clients, the goal is a comfortable retirement, but these can vary depending on the circumstance. Planning can also create a legacy through philanthropy, transfer of wealth to the next generation or both. Regardless of the goal, funding it requires having a plan, and we always suggest that as a starting point. If you haven’t worked with us to put a financial plan in place, please stop procrastinating and get in touch with your advisor. Our financial plans are surprisingly cost-effective and well worth the time required to develop.
4. Finally, we’ve recently put technology in place to help create and maintain your plan and manage your portfolio. Late last year, we made the decision to migrate to Orion. Orion is widely considered to be the industry’s premier technology platform for portfolio accounting and it integrates all of our data, reporting, fee processing, and business intelligence functions. For our clients that have implemented a financial plan, Orion allows us to create a personalized client portal. When integrated with Wealth Access, another recent addition to our technology suite, the portal is capable of consolidating all of your accounts regardless of where they are held – from 401(k) plans at your employer to your bank checking account. This continuously updated information is used by our financial planning software to monitor the health of your plan using Monte Carlo simulation – visible in the portal as well. Our team has worked hard to put these capabilities in place and we encourage you will take advantage of them.
If there is one key takeaway from this, I hope that it’s obvious that we are working hard to provide value to our clients. But, that value is only realized when clients are engaged and working together with their advisor team. Get in touch and let’s discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.
Founder and Partner
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