Message from the President – Late Summer 2017
Value – relative worth, merit, or importance; monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade.
This definition is from Dictionary.com. It can be viewed as either subjective or qualitative when deciding how to quantify the value of various services including those from a professional organization. Certainly most people receive services from a professional on either a regular or semi-regular basis. For example, most of us pay for the services of a doctor, a dentist, an accountant, a lawyer, an auto mechanic, a contractor, an optometrist, or a financial advisor, to varying degrees. Yes, some pay more for certain disciplines and some pay less, if at all. Here is the question: Are they worth it?
The answer to this question may lie in some basic tenets most of us follow when paying for services. For example, we normally like to trust the person/people we work with. We also want to have confidence in the expertise or skill set of these folks so that we can rely on them for being accurate and effective. We probably want them to be dependable and that they stand behind their work so we can go back if a problem arises after the fact. We certainly hope they have our best interest in mind when providing a service. Right alongside this tenet is integrity of those individuals delivering the service. If they have personal integrity then they are likely honest with themselves and others. And then we want them to provide good value for what they are providing to us whether it is a one-time event or ongoing. (A hidden tenet most people tend to follow is that they “like” the person or firm with which they engage.) This is a good starting point for most of us to follow when pursuing “commerce” for personal reasons.
When our firm provides financial planning and wealth management services to our clients, we focus on delivering on these principles. This does not suggest that we are all things to all people. Our aim is to be the best planning and advisory firm we can be, and put each and every client in a better position than they otherwise would be without our involvement. Our view is that delivering on these basic principles is the starting point to helping our clients.
Two final points along these lines: One is that our industry (i.e., general financial services as covered by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010) is in the process of implementing a Fiduciary Rule as written by the Department of Labor (DOL). It became effective on June 9, 2017, with an implementation date of January 1, 2018. It is intended to benefit consumers of “financial services” when they deal with a “fiduciary” by stating that they act in their client’s best interest. Without getting into the tedium, the industry and DOL is in the process of working out the final details and something good should happen. (In our opinion, it’s about time!) I will go so far as to say that if you do not feel someone is delivering these principles for services rendered and acting in your best interest, then you should walk (or run) away!
Second, we work best with individual clients who are looking into the future at some point for “freedom from work” or continue to enjoy the next phase of their lives. That may be looks like traveling throughout Europe, writing that (almost forgotten) novel, sailing on the Chesapeake, playing more golf, learning a new language, or taking on a completely new venture. But these people are motivated to move on with something that is important to them. They also know what they don’t know. They ask questions like, “When should I take social security?”, “How does Medicare impact my healthcare needs?”, “How much money do I need to retire?”, “How do I avoid running out of money in my lifetime?”, and “What is the right investment mix for me today and tomorrow?”
When there is a fit, we start the relationship on an appropriate path and guide our clients through both certain and uncertain times. They end up having more time to do what is most important to them and with confidence.