Happy New Year! New hopes and aspirations, new challenges and new goals are on the horizon. While we maintain that life should be a continual quest for improvement, the mark of a new year is a great time to assess what’s worked, what hasn’t and areas of improvement.
At Allgen, we are grateful for you, our clients, who have allowed us to come alongside you in the financial world and seek betterment in this area. As we look to improve what we do for you, we are excited about 2015 and the great things the year will bring. Among them are 1) enhanced billing schedule; 2) a new website and 3) more robust financial planning.
In an effort to streamline our billing, we modified our fee structure. While it will not adversely affect our clients (in fact, some will see a slight reduction in their fees), it will allow us to be more efficient in the actual billing of accounts.
Our website is undergoing a face-lift. We welcome your thoughts and feedback as we strive to better communicate what we do and why we do it through this means of communication.
We cannot start the year without encouraging you to revisit your financial goals and plan. Our financial planning team takes great pride in helping clients achieve their dreams and secure financial freedom. Please read the commentary below on our financial planning department and what it means for you.
Financial Planning Commentary
Last quarter we wrote about the benefits of financial planning. Financial planning is the process of taking action in order to progress financially through life. This process will stretch your dollars and your financial awareness. Very rarely do we get where we want to go without having a plan. This process is for All Generations, those just starting out all the way to the wealthy, and everyone in between. Like any process, it is one step at a time. This quarter we would like to go a little deeper into the details of planning at Allgen.
Financial Planning at Allgen is comprised of 3 life stages: Foundation, Formation and Freedom. There are actionable steps to each one. While these steps are general guidelines, we design an individual plan that will take into account the specific areas that are affecting the client’s financial life. Each life stage has a particular set of challenges. Too many times we have seen people jump into the accumulation phase who did not plan for the day they could be laid off or incur a disability. Because they did not have an emergency account or proper insurances in place, they fall back into the first stage of life, Foundation, and have to start all over again. We want to mitigate this and make sure that you are protected first before moving onto accumulation or even legacy planning (don’t gift assets if you may need to take care of your own health in later years). Financial well-being is so important to us that we have priced each life-stage so that you are able to get started today.
The first life stage is called Foundation because that is exactly what we are laying. The first step is to establish an overview of your financial picture by looking at your net worth and spending plan. The net worth is a financial statement that nets out the value of everything you own and owe. The spending plan will allow us to see the ins and outs of your cash flow. These two financial statements are key at every life stage and determine much of what we do next.
We also want to protect what you already have – your income and loved ones. We will review your life and disability insurance coverage and see if and/or how much is appropriate for you and your family. It is also very important to make sure that you have a cushion for those car repairs, air conditioner maintenance or unexpected medical bill. We will advise how much of an emergency fund is appropriate for you.
Finally, we want to eliminate all consumer debt (except the mortgage, if applicable). Once we understand your cash flow (from your spending plan), we can determine how best to pay off the debt, in what order and the time frame involved. Once you’ve completed the Foundation stage you and your family will be protected from many of life’s challenges and you will be ready to build wealth at a faster pace without having to start over.
The next life stage is called Formation. Here you lay out your dreams and we put metrics in place to achieve them. By analyzing your objectives, current investments, expense and risk tolerance we will generate a plan of action to meet your goals, accounting for inflation and taxes. We will assess your objectives such as whether or not you are on track for retirement, the best vehicle and correct amount needed to save for college, which investments should you choose in your company retirement plan or how should you go about starting a business. We also look at what it takes to pay off your mortgage(s) so that you are completely debt free. Being debt free means your investments don’t have to generate as much income in retirement in order to pay the mortgage. Once you’ve completed the Formation stage, you should have accumulated enough assets and/or income streams so that you are financially secure.
At the Freedom life stage, you have assets and income streams that will sustain your lifestyle so that you can spend your time the way you wish. Yet, maintaining financial security of said lifestyle still requires financial diligence and continual monitoring. However, the focus shifts from accumulation to preservation. This stage affords you the opportunity to nurture your personal pursuits and determine your impact to your family and/or your community. How do you ensure that the money lasts, how do you manage a potential decline in health or how do you ensure prudent transfer of assets to heirs or your charitable giving? We assist in these areas plus others such as how to maximize pensions, healthcare needs, long term care, advanced estate planning, income distribution, and social security benefit maximization for spouses. We also collaborate with your tax advisor, portfolio manager and attorney to make sure your plan is coordinated.
While this seems like a lot to track, never fear. As you know, we emphasize the team at Allgen and we are here to coach you through all of the stages. Supporting your financial advisor are two internal CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners in our Financial Planning department — Ana Fernandez and Teresa Talton. They deepen the reservoir of financial expertise to better serve you. It is their education, experience, and skill set combined with heartfelt commitment to your success that drives what we do. Let us show you.
Your Allgen Financial Planners
Ana Fernandez, CFP®
Teresa Talton, CFP® Candidate
CFP Board owns and has federally registered the CFP® certification mark, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements. Ana Fernandez is a Certified Financial Planner™ Licensee and Teresa Talton is a Certified Financial Planner™ Candidate.