Letter to Our Clients - July 2014
Dear Clients and Friends,
It has been a beautiful summer here in Oregon so far, with many opportunities to get out and enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities. Everyone here in our office is doing well, and we hope that your summer has been delightful!
Bob and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel quite a bit over the past few years, both domestically and internationally, and both for work and vacation. For example, I recently returned from an investment conference in Chicago where we heard from some of the most respected fund managers and researchers in the investment world. These conferences are always informative, and the ones I have attended lately have been especially interesting because of the uncertain investment environment in which we find ourselves. Most of the speakers agree with the internal outlook that Bob and I have developed, namely, that everyone expects the stock and bond markets to become more volatile, and everyone continues to be surprised that the stock markets continue to do so well. We believe that eventually the values of stock markets will decline, and bonds will be become more volatile, but because we cannot know when or how much they will move, all we can do is help clients be prepared for whatever comes.
As I look back on my recent trips, I often think of the interesting people we met along the way. When travelling to a conference or to see friends or family, we always end up interacting with new and interesting people. We have met people from many different cultures, backgrounds, and worldviews, and each interaction has been a chance to share and learn from their worldview.
One of the common questions that we often answer when meeting new people is “what do you do for a living?” Many people have answers to this question that are easy to understand. When someone says they are a doctor, or a small business owner, or a teacher, other people usually have an immediate, if vague, idea of what that person does. When I have explained my profession, however, I often get mixed responses.
Almost everyone that we meet from the US is familiar with the term “financial planner.” However, only about half of the people I have encountered actually knew what that meant. Some people have a better understanding than others and ask the right kind of questions, such as “are you independent?” and “do you have a certification, like the CFP® credential?” Just as often though, I hear things like “oh, so you sell insurance?” or “yeah, I have a stock broker.” I explain to them that while we specialize in investments and we do help clients with insurance, those are only parts of what we do. I elaborate and explain that we work with clients and with other professionals to incorporate all other aspects of our clients’ financial lives into one coherent plan. This seems very foreign to some people who are working with “advisors” who only sell insurance products or mutual funds, and I often see blank stares and quite a few responses of “hmmm, interesting.”
I have actually found it easier to explain what I do to people from other countries. I think this has been the case because people living outside of the United States do not have the same preconceived notions about what our financial terms mean. I would explain at a very high level how we work with different financial concepts to advise our clients to help them clarify and achieve their financial goals, and then people would ask good questions to get into as much of the details as they were interested in. For example, many people in Spain use their bank for all of their savings, investments, insurance, tax advice, and so on. So, when we were in that country discussing these concepts, many people heard what we do and asked whether these weren’t the same services that they get at the bank. I explained that it might be similar, but since we don’t work for a bank or anyone else, we can independently recommend only the products and services that we believe are in our clients’ best interests. And we can help with financial decisions outside of the scope of the business of the bank. And we work with our clients’ attorneys and tax preparers to make sure everyone is on the same page. And, and, and. At the end of almost all of these conversations, people told me “I’ve never heard of a service like that, but it makes a lot of sense!”
I am always energized coming back from these trips, both from the wonderful experiences and the interesting conversations we have with people from around the world. Everyone here at Advanced Wealth Management is passionate about the importance of financial planning, we are committed to helping you pursue your goals, and we are always working on building our business so we can continue to help new families and generations. We feel that this comprehensive approach to financial management is in everyone’s best interest, and strongly believe in educating as many people as possible about the benefits of financial planning. We also feel that with this approach, combined with our experience, resources and designations (such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designations), that we provide a valuable and unique service to our clients. However, we want to make sure that you feel the same way about our relationship, and that you feel comfortable with the way all the pieces of your financial life fit together. If there is anything that we could be doing differently or better for you, please let us know. If you have friends or family that you think would benefit from our services, we always appreciate client referrals. If we haven’t talked with you for a while, or if there is anything new in your life we should be discussing, please contact us! We hope you and your family had a great first half of 2014, and thanks again for the opportunity to work with you!
Theodore R. Haley, JD, CFP®, AIF®