Financial planning is a process that helps you articulate your financial goals and provides a road map for meeting those goals. It can be comprehensive, where all elements of your financial affairs (like retirement planning, investments, insurance, and college funding) are brought together into an integrated, cohesive plan. Or, it can be very specific, focusing on just a single issue of importance or concern to you. In either case, financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important deliverables. First, an in-depth review of your current situation (either comprehensive or specific, depending on your planning objective) and secondly, a road map that provides clear direction on how to achieve your planning goal(s). It is important to remember that financial planning is a dynamic process, not a single, one-time event. The economy, your planning objectives, and income can all change, which may necessitate a revisit of the road map.
The asset allocation decision is probably the most significant factor in determining your long-term investment performance. Asset allocation refers to the way you divide your investments between stocks, bonds, cash, and other investment vehicles.
We believe that there is a direct correlation between risk and return. Over time one can typically enjoy greater returns on investments that carry greater risk. But the promise of higher returns has to be balanced against one’s tolerance for risk. Not everyone has the stomach for the volatility of the stock market. And for people with short horizons (i.e. those who will need access to their money in the near future), risk should be minimized. We believe that investing in stocks requires a time horizon of at least five years or longer.
We do not believe in market timing, which is a strategy that seeks to move in and out of the market (bond or stock) in anticipation of either upward or downward market movements. Few (if any) investment professionals have, over a long period of time, demonstrated their ability to time the market successfully. We favor a prudent “buy and hold” strategy, and believe in controlling risk through a smart asset allocation strategy.
We believe that there is a role for both active and passive investing strategies. Active management is an investment approach where fund managers choose securities based on research, judgment and financial analysis. Passive management, on the other hand, is a buy-and-hold strategy that seeks to provide broad market exposure and typically tries to replicate the returns of a designated index (like the S&P 500); passive investors make no attempt to exclude or include a stock in their portfolio based on criteria used by active managers.
We believe that fees and expenses have a very negative impact on our client's wealth over the long term. For example, if two investors with $100,000 are able to earn an average of 9% per year over a 20-year time period, but one investor chooses higher cost investments that assess an extra 1% per year in fees, the investor with the higher costs will have $94,345 less at the end of the 20-year period. Expenses and fees must be carefully managed.
We strive to keep overhead costs as low as possible. If we had to pay rent and expenses on an office, those costs would be reflected in our fees. We do not feel this adds value to the client. What we believe really does provide added value is our willingness to make house calls and offer evening and weekend hours and our ability to connect with clients remotely.