Choosing Advisors Wisely
Choose a Team Best Suited for You
Your Financial Team
Take a moment and think about how your financial team works with you. Almost all insurance agents, financial planners, asset managers, accountants, and attorneys work independently of one another, and most fail to communicate with each other when advising you. Does this sound familiar?
Many on your team derive all of their income from commissions they receive from the products they sell you. You receive conflicting advice from your team because of how they are paid or the self-interests they serve. How are you as a client supposed to make sense of this conflicting advice, and who should you trust and rely upon? At the Optimal Financial Group, we do not sell anything, nor do we derive any commission-based income.
At the core of our value system, we only recommend what is in your best interest, not what might be simply suitable or, worse yet, inappropriate. By integrating the various professions within one organization, we are able to engineer every aspect of your financial life and ensure that you are getting the absolute best advice. And by placing a high emphasis on coaching and mentoring, we ensure that you achieve peak performance in your financial life just as an athlete does when properly coached and guided.
Working with “Financial Planners”
How do you work with those who call themselves “Financial Planners?” First, you must identify how your advisor is paid. Do they receive income from commissions on life insurance, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds? If so, then they are not financial planners, they are salesmen.
These life insurance salesmen and stockbrokers are cleverly disguised as “advisers” and “planners” in order to encourage you to purchase their products. A true financial planner is paid like a lawyer or CPA and receives a fee for professional advice. A true financial planner doesn’t try to sell you anything and doesn’t make a commission from the advice that they give.
Working with “Asset Managers”
Individuals who manage your investment capital often fall within the financial planner category, and they are typically called stockbrokers, money managers, or representatives. Most asset managers are not trained to actively manage an investment portfolio according to your tolerance to risk or based upon the current market and economic conditions.
Most are trained as salespersons. If you use any of the major brokerage firms, then you are working with salespersons who have strong financial incentives to keep your portfolio within their family or brand of investments and funds.
The best asset managers are fee-based fiduciaries who are held to a higher professional standard and have a legal obligation to recommend only what is best for you. Almost all fiduciaries work independently and receive no underlying financial incentives from the investment platforms they recommend.
How often did your accountant communicate with you during the last twelve months, and has he or she taken the time to design and implement a tax mitigation strategy? If you have not received ongoing coaching and guidance, then your accountant is like most professionals in this field who focus on compliance activities and have a historical emphasis. With these types of accountants, the only advice you normally receive is at tax-filing time, and the communication often centers around how much you owe or are receiving as a refund. At The Optimal Financial Group, we have completely separated the tax planning function from the tax preparation activities. All of our clients go through a comprehensive planning process where every aspect of the tax plan is properly engineered and implemented. Moreover, our team of CPAs and tax attorneys provides ongoing guidance and advice throughout the year.
Most clients develop relationships with bankers that last a lifetime. They are the first choice anytime there is a borrowing or investment need. For many business owners, the cost of capital is one of the largest expense items on their income statement. This line item gets the least amount of attention because it is a cost that you have little control over. We advocate a competitive lending process that is third-party administered anytime our clients have borrowing needs. By working with hundreds of lenders throughout the country, we are often able to find the most favorable borrowing terms and conditions for our clients, which allows us to reduce the cost of borrowing for them. By using us as a third party negotiator, you are able to maintain that banking “friendship” for a lifetime.
Insurance is an essential aspect of everyone’s financial life and serves to insulate you from the risk of loss. Insurance is the first line of defense in a sound asset protection plan. All insurance agents are paid a commission from the products they sell. As a result, the tendency within the insurance industry is to recommend those products that generate the highest commission for the agent. These insurance products include whole life contracts, variable life policies, and permanent investment products such as fixed and variable annuities. As a rule of thumb, the entire first year premium on an insurance contract is paid out to the selling agent as a commission. On fixed and variable annuity sales, these commissions approach 7.5 percent of the assets sold into these contracts. No wonder why you cannot get your money out of these plans for five or more years. The best insurance agents are those who work with the entire financial team to determine the insurance need and then have the ability to price the products across multiple carriers, which ensures that you are getting the lowest possible insurance cost. Investments offered by insurance companies carry high underlying fees, and the choices are limited to the family of products that the agent represents. As part of our planning, we analyze your insurance needs, audit your existing policies, and find the best and lowest cost carriers.
You want an attorney who is a problem solver. Most attorneys are trained by their firms to “earn a fee” by spending as much time as possible analyzing, researching, and writing. These activities, while often required to represent you, receive an undue emphasis and only serve to increase your cost and their earnings. The best lawyers only research an issue once; they apply common sense to a situation, and they suggest either business, financial, mediation, or settlement solutions rather than always following a standard lawyer track of litigation or worthless letter-writing. You want a lawyer who is innovative, quick, responsive and uses modern technology to save time and money. When it comes to selecting a lawyer to represent you as part of your financial team, it is imperative that you choose an attorney who has a background or specialty in taxation.
Choosing your team is one of the most important decisions you will make to safeguard your financial future. Consider our value proposition that emphasizes an integrated approach to engineering your financial life and compare it to the advice and guidance you have been given. Listen and speak to the hundreds of clients who have gone through our planning process and continue to work with us today. Contact us for a complimentary consultation to see how we can help you