Secure Your GPS (Global Portfolio Specialist)
We’ve all been there, our head in our hands, lost in the middle of nowhere. One reason for blame can be overconfidence in the directions provided or our map reading abilities. Now we have GPS (Global Positioning System) devices – a tool I now could never live without. In the investment world, with the damage that has been done, intelligent advice is needed more than ever. Unfortunately, there is no GPS device to guide our investments, but many individuals would do their self a favor by finding the right experienced professional advisor to act as your GPS device (Global Portfolio Specialist).
Getting from point A to point B in the real world can be quite simple. In the investment world, the roadways are constantly shifting. Changes in interest rates, tax policies, unemployment, fiscal initiatives can represent obstacles, the equivalent of road construction barriers, potholes, erosion, mudslides, and earthquakes in our quest for financial freedom. Navigating these winding paths can require a GPS advice. Asking for help or directions can be embarrassing and castigating for some, especially for some proud males. Stubbornly appearing to have the answer can be more important for some, and can cloud the decision making process – even if assistance can lead to the most efficient path to prosperity.
Having a guide at your fingertips as you meet unknown forks in the road is a nice asset to have. Unfortunately finding the right guide is much easier said than done, many guides can have ulterior motives and hidden agendas that conflict with yours. So although, having a guide may be ideal, finding the right guide requires a lot of research (read how to find an advisor). The scope of qualifications between the capabilities of one advisor compared to another can be like comparing a plastic butter knife with a stainless steel swiss-army knife. The cheap butter knife may handle a few simple needs, but most investors would be better served by someone with a breadth of tools that can assist you with a diverse set of circumstances.
The old cliché states men hate to get directions while women seek a security blanket (a plan). GPS is not full proof, as occasionally the software is not updated or gets confused. But tech geeks like me have grown to love the assistance and benefit from the heightened efficiency and safety it provides. Not only am I more confident, but it also gets me to where I want to go in less time.
Having your guide is important when it comes to investments, but having someone with expertise in tax planning (should I consider Roth conversion in 2010?); estate planning (what impact will the expected changes in the estate tax rate have on my future?); and insurance planning (do I have adequate life, health, and business insurance?) can be critical. All these areas can have a profound impact on whether you achieve your personal and financial goals.
Along the road of life, there can be many bumps, twists and turns. If you would like the assistance of a professional advisor, consider doing your homework and finding the appropriate GPS. Here is a checklist:
1) Where are You Now? This means taking inventory of your assets and liabilities, getting a handle on your income and expenses, and having a firm understanding of your tax and family planning issues (will, trust, powers of attorneys, etc.)
2) Where are You Going? Next you need to know where you want to go? You may have a rough idea, but in order to create a coherent plan, goals need to be defined.
3) Create a Plan. Everyone’s map or blueprint will look different. Some will need highly detailed directions, while others due to different circumstances may have less complex needs or shorter distances to travel. Some may need guidance and directions to reach an adjacent state, while others may have more ambitious goals or planning needed to reach the peak of Mount Everest. Different destinations and circumstances will require different planning.
4) Monitor and Adjust Plan as Necessary. Road conditions, weather, breakdowns, flight cancellations, among many other unforeseen circumstances can change the path to your goal. That’s why it’s so important to review, not only the changes in external circumstances, such as the financial markets, but also any individual changes whether it’s health, family, personal, or goal related.
Some people prefer to do things the old-fashion way or are happy with subpar technology (i.e., compass). However, if you do not want to get lost, or want a clearer defined map, then it’s time to shop for that new Global Portfolio Specialist who can help guide you to your destination.
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
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