GET FINANCIAL ADVICE YOU CAN TRUST
The right financial planner can significantly help you when processing a divorce or a death, and help after the dust settles. Is it worth it to work with an adviser, and how do you evaluate your options?
THE VALUE OF PLANNING
True financial planning extends beyond the numbers. Prioritizing and simplifying financial decisions. Defining and refining money habits. Addressing concerns about protecting, growing, and using your financial resources.
CHOOSING YOUR ADVISER
With rudimentary training, one may call themselves a “financial adviser”. It says nothing about the adviser’s competence, any conflicts of interest, nor how they get paid. You should question potential advisers about this and more.
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WHAT A GOOD ADVISER GIVES YOU
Expect more from a financial adviser than investment advice. What else can a quality financial adviser provide a divorced or widowed woman?
Handling the dividing and re-titling of accounts. Reviewing insurance protections and legal documents for needed changes. Taking advantage of tax opportunities.
Working with attorneys to ensure steps are properly followed. Handling insurance proceeds and settlements. Updating beneficiaries. Establishing a new financial “normal”.
Explaining your financial options in plain English, without condescension. Answering your questions until you feel confident about where your money goes. Teaching, not telling.
Developing a clearer picture of your financial situation (rarely does a new client have their finances in order). Setting up organizational systems for keeping on top of your financial life.
Holding you accountable to the promises you make to yourself. Ensuring you not only know what to do but you also get it done. Preventing the neglect of financial actions for less urgent issues.
Bringing new ideas and approaches to reaching your financial goals instead of waiting for your call. Keeping current on academic research and improving your plan with evidence-based solutions.
Using technology to help track your progress toward your goals. Experimenting with various “what if” scenarios and modeling the impact of changes to your plan. Making adjustments if your plan begins to steer off-course.
Developing a long-term relationship with an expert, not a call center. Ensuring you do not feel alone in making decisions and that you feel comfortable in your understanding of your choices.
Shielding you from making emotional decisions based on fear or greed. Accepting the best action may be taking no action at all. Coaching you on letting these temporary but destructive feelings pass.
MORE TANGIBLE BENEFITS SHOULD INCLUDE:
Use academically-supported investment techniques instead of hopelessly trying to “beat the market”
Include high-quality, low cost investment and insurance products and eliminate ones that carry excessive expenses
Take the minimum amount of risk needed to keep your goals on track, instead of seeking out your “maximum risk tolerance”
Match up your amount of guaranteed vs. non-guaranteed income to your situation and your interest in taking risks
Take advantage of tax-saving opportunities when making withdrawals
Ensure your spending levels match up with your future goals
Analyze the use of your home equity to generate additional retirement income without jeopardizing other goals
Monitor your existing mortgage(s) for opportunities to refinance or pay down/off
Review lines of credit and other liens for suitability and alternatives
Provide objective evaluation of product pitches, high-pressure dinner seminars, and others who might prey on vulnerable women
Keep trusted family members, CPAs, and attorneys updated as much as you wish
Help put legal protections in place to keep your financial details as private as possible
Maximize the benefits you receive from the complex Social Security rules, including those for ex-spouses and survivors
Time the collection of Social Security to reduce potential conflicts with your current income
Assist you with the applications for Social Security benefits, Medicare, and Medicare Supplement (“Medigap”) policies
Coordinate with trusted tax professionals on your behalf to reduce demands on your time during tax preparation
Take advantage of opportunities in the tax code to reduce your future taxes (i.e. Roth conversions, income acceleration, etc.)
Manage your investments with tax reduction strategies like tax-loss harvesting
Evaluate your insurance needs for protection from unexpected medical expenses, long-term care, accidents, or other unforeseen events
Monitor your existing policies to ensure they remain cost-efficient and needed
Coordinate insurance benefits from employers with personally-owned policies to prevent overlap or gaps
Explain and coordinate pension, 401(k), 403(b), and other employer-provided benefits with your overall financial plan
Identify weaknesses or gaps in employer-provided insurance coverage and assist with getting supplemental benefits as needed
Review benefit changes and assist with annual open enrollment period decisions
CHOOSING YOUR ADVISER
Not all financial advisers are created equal, but cookie-cutter marketing from many firms gives that impression. How do you sort through the messages to find guidance in your best interests?
Some advisers are expected to sell their company’s products even if there are better options available for you. Others have the freedom to choose. How do you find an adviser who represents your interests?
It only takes rudimentary training to call yourself a “financial adviser”. Some experienced advisers succeed solely on their sales skills. Which advisers commit to a standard of excellence for competent and ethical financial planning?
Not all advisers can offer the best options for you. Some have company products to sell, and some only have access to a limited number of options. How can you spot them?
Advisers in Captivity
To pay for those expenses, these companies provide their advisers incentives to sell you their products. Some require minimum sales “production” and some provide perks to advisers for reaching sales goals. Some limit access to certain products or make it more difficult to use a product outside of their firm.
One reason I started III Financial was to free myself from these constraints.
This simplifies the adviser/client relationship because there are no competing interests involved.
Declaration of Independence
As a completely independent financial planner, I am free to help select the best options for you, regardless of the company offering the right solution.
No Experience Necessary
For each job, the amount and type of training required varies greatly. What the title “financial adviser” fails to indicate is the level of experience and knowledge the adviser possesses.
The Certified Financial Planner™
“What am I paying and for what?” sounds like a simple question, yet many people find their adviser dancing around the issue. The most common methods of compensation add many conflicts. Also, costs can be like termites: you may not see them but they can still do severe damage.
Commissioned products introduce conflicts, disproportionate costs, and legal complications into the picture.
AUM fees may seem small when stated as 1%/year. Yet, that 1%/year fee on $1,500,000 of retirement savings adds up to $15,000/year! With the costs of owning mutual funds, the total cost often DOUBLES to $30,000/year or more.
Asset Fee Conflicts
The Solution: Fixed Fees
Fixed fees do not change based on the decisions you make or where your money is kept. Instead, it is often based on the complexity of your situation.
How Much Difference Can This Make?
Many Many Certified Financial Planner professionals charge 1%+ of your asset value. They also often use costly mutual funds.
Over 20 years, the difference between this fee and a fixed fee can be significant! In this case a $2,000,000 portfolio would forgo $2 million more in profits.
From Tragedy to a Purpose
MANY years ago my lifelong fascination with computers led me to complete a Computer Science degree from Southern Methodist University. I realized during school that I would not be satisfied writing computer programs, so once I graduated I secured a great job with Ernst & Young LLP as a technology consultant to Fortune 500 companies.
Then on August 20th, 1997 my life changed forever. After a brief battle with cancer, my father passed away. I suddenly found myself helping my mother with insurance, investments, attorneys, CPAs, and more, because my father was the one in charge of these things for the family.
Why I Share This With You
As clear as this is to me now, it took me years to piece it all together into my true calling. In that time, I continued with Ernst & Young, left to earn my Master in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, and spent a short while at IBM Tivoli. Then the light bulb went off and I became a financial adviser in 2004.
Weir Family 2016
What else makes me different from most financial advisers?
A Different Approach
I cannot change how the financial industry behaves. I CAN offer you a different kind of relationship – clear, for your benefit, and focused on getting you results.
Every call, text, and email receives a prompt response directly from me (no call centers or gatekeepers!). Almost all responses come within 1 business day.
Making It Easy
No stuffy waiting rooms, long drives to an office, or difficulty parking. We meet at a place of your choosing. The easier it is to work together, the more we will get done.
My interests extend beyond picking investments and monitoring your net worth. I care about my clients and always strive to deliver service I would want family or friends to receive.
My role does not include judging your past decisions, but using that as the building materials for the future. Your questions are valid and will be answered without condescension.
Motivating people with fear tactics may work in the short-term but it cannot last. A good relationship shows you opportunities and possibilities, and new perspectives and ways of looking at things.
What types of people or situations are NOT a good fit?
You seek out unnecessary financial risks (short Vegas trips may be OK)
You only want validation of your decisions, instead of educated guidance
You regularly spend more than you bring in
Your self-esteem is tied to your account balances
You only need help with basic budgeting and expense management
You are in need of debt management / credit counseling
The other reason is because of a writing concept called the “Rule of Three“. It suggests that things presented in threes are more satisfying or effective than when presented in other numbers. The Latin phrase, “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect) conveys the same idea. When reading through this website, see how many times concepts or ideas are presented in groups of three – it just makes things clearer!
I do not require my clients to work with specific professionals, especially if there is an existing relationship. In those instances, I will contact the other professionals (with your permission) to establish a dialogue with them.
I do not accept nor pay any referral fees to the professionals I recommend – it is based solely on my confidence in them to provide quality service to you.
Adhering to this higher fiduciary standard is nothing new for me – I have always had this high standard in place for all of my clients.
This means that my sole focus is on your financial needs and goals, and how I can best help you reach them.