NEW Bluffton Location
117 E Elm Street
“This is going to be a problem,” I admitted to myself as I looked at the three foot wall of ice barricading my front sidewalk at the street. It was early on a cold winter morning and I had cleaned up my driveway, my office sidewalk, and had time to help the neighbors a bit. This was my last section to clear and then I would be done. I was tired but hopeful this last stretch would be easy, until I looked at the frozen snow plowed into position by the city during the night before the temperatures plummeted to single digits.
I did a quick mental list of tools I could retrieve from my garage to help me tackle the job. Wood splitter, shovels, pry bars, all quickly were assessed and discarded as too laborious to tackle right now. I made the decision to just start cleaning near the house and leave the hard job for another time.
An interesting dynamic evolved as I started cleaning at the “easy” end of the sidewalk near the house. I made quick progress as the snow was dry, light, and at minimal depth. My cleaning momentum took me back toward the street to the insurmountable wall of ice. However, as I looked at it from this point of view it didn’t seem to be that daunting. A few strategic thrusts of my shovel caused the ice wall to collapse and it was cleaned it up in no time at all. Mission accomplished.
Immediately an analogy came to mind of various situations I have encountered over the years. Any particular set of circumstances may seem different when viewed from a new perspective! Good situations can be misconstrued as being negative and bad situations can appear to be good. I’m sure you would admit that our perceptions can be faulty at times and a different point of view could often be beneficial.
I recall an incident years ago with a prospective client. I was asked to do a review of an investment portfolio. During the initial conversation when we were discussing the pros and cons of diversification, the man gave me a stack of plastic folders filled with paperwork. The man smiled and said rather proudly, “I am very diversified!” I stopped talking and did a quick survey of the stack. He had five Variable Annuity contracts, each with a different company. Each contract had his funds invested in the same Large Cap Growth subaccount (think mutual fund). This person assumed that five different companies meant he was diversified in the market. In fact, he was not diversified at all, and furthermore he was dangerously overinvested in one particular investment category. As a self-professed very conservative investor, his portfolio was off-the-chart super aggressive!
The danger of not having an outside assessment of your financial situation is the slippery slope toward assumption. I’ve talked about the “sin of assumption” in previous newsletters. Just as I assumed that three foot wall of ice to be insurmountable until I got a different perspective, we have a tendency to assume our financial situations are unchangeable, ‘just perfect’, or somehow exempt from the need for review.
We see this tendency quite often when folks make decisions about what age to draw Social Security benefits. They do this based on what someone says at a government office, not knowing that these people are not allowed to give advice, just information. If you do not know to ask the right questions of the right people you will not always get the right information for your situation!
I really enjoy helping people see the true nature of their situation. It is illuminating and freeing to become liberated from unsupported assumptions—by education! Perspective, fresh viewpoint, and second opinions are all words that entail “seeing things from a different angle.” That’s one of the “advantages” we offer folks here at Faith Investment Services -- another viewpoint without sales pressure. That’s why we continue to recommend that people start the conversation!
WE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS…
Over the last several years, we have communicated with you in this newsletter the concept that we are ‘your retirement specialist’. We are committed to being a specialist with whom you can consult and engage concerning your retirement. We do our part by gaining continual training, self-education, and new insights on an active, on-going basis. YOUR PART is to contact us at any stage along the way and start talking to us about your specific situation.
Þ You do NOT have to have everything figured out first.
Þ You do NOT have to be within weeks or even months of your retirement — there are critical discussions that can be held along the way.
Þ You do NOT have to have a lot of money or a really ‘fat’ portfolio of investments.
Þ You do NOT have to feel guilty if you can’t actively do business with us right now (because investments are held by an employer or because you don’t have any investments, etc.)
Þ You DO need to be willing to build some trust with us and share some pertinent information. We cannot help without fully understanding your current financial position. We’ll go about that gradually and gently — there is never pressure to proceed if you are not comfortable.
Þ You DO need to be teachable or open to suggestions or fresh insight. Truthfully, if you already have everything ‘figured out’ and you are determined to attack the ice at the street with a pick axe (figuratively speaking!) instead of coming at the ice from the other side, we probably can’t help you.
Þ You DO need to call or email us. If YOU are serious about this...
You need your earnings statement from Social Security and your projected benefits (available at www.socialsecurity.gov after you set up a basic account with them). You also need to guess your longevity based on family history & health. This, together with basic financial information, will let us complete an analysis for you and make recommendations regarding your future income in retirement.
3 PHASES OF RETIREMENT
This issue addresses Social Security timing — when to begin taking Social Security, how to file, whether to take your benefit or spousal benefits, and how to understand the entire process. Social Security is one aspect of your entire retirement plan.
People approach retirement go through three phases and each has its own unique decisions.
Accumulation is the gathering of assets over a period of time during your working years to support yourself when you are no longer gainfully employed. These assets take many forms such as Social Security, 401k-403b plans, pensions, IRA accounts, real estate, and many others. Many think this stage just “happens”, but there are actually critical and life-changing decisions to make. Your advisor knows how to help you “get on course” during this time. This stage should start very early in life but typically people do not give it serious attention until their mid to late 40s.
In transition is the time period during which adjustments are made in how to handle those assets gathered during the accumulation phase. This is a critical time when I can help you make major decisions to positively impact the nature, quality, and length of retirement. How much money is available and will the money last? The best time for me to help you make good transitional decisions is 5 to 10 years before planned retirement.
Distribution is the time when you live on the assets gathered during the first phase and the decisions made during the second phase. It is the planned gradual liquidation of assets to support one’s lifestyle during non-working years. Will the money outlive the lifestyle?
Whether you are in the accumulation phase, the in-transition phase, or the distribution phase, it is very important to look at your situation with your eyes wide open. As an advisor with over 27 years of experience, I can assess things and give an unbiased, unemotional evaluation of your situation. This is helpful whether you are “in crisis” or not. Bottom line...why wouldn’t you want a professional second opinion?
SOCIAL SECURITY ANALYSIS
All of this leads to a very basic “first step”. Most Americans will have Social Security as one piece of their retirement pie. The rules governing Social Security (when to draw your benefits or spousal benefits, whether to take full or strategically reduced benefits, whether or not to continue working part-time, how much you can earn, etc.) are COMPLEX! We have access to software that systemizes all of the rules and gives a “best case” strategy for how to take Social Security. This, coupled with our knowledge about how to maximize other income sources in retirement, can be a great FIRST STEP if you are in-transition for retirement. Call us for a free, no-obligation Social Security analysis.
REFERRAL DRAWING CONTEST
Because our business grows by referrals, we look back at where our business has come from. For every piece of business from July-December last year, we asked “Who made the referral to make this happen?”
Some people actively mention us to their family and friends and we build a network of relationships as a result of their kindness. Some just come back to us & do repeat business — and we consider that a sort of self-referral, knowing they have a choice of who they do business with.
The winner this time was Jenn H. of Hilliard, OH. She has received a $100 VISA gift card as a token of our thanks!
3 Phases of Retirement