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Solid Values You Can Trust

Who Can You Really Trust

To Guide And Assist You

With Your Taxes, Your Future Income Planning

And Your Family's Financial Future??

Today, most consumers mistakenly believe that all financial professionals are the same

and that they all offer a similar menu of services.  Most consumers also mistakenly believe

that all financial professionals behave ethically, honestly and act with

the best interest of the client ahead of their own interest.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but these are false perceptions couldn't be further from the truth.
The fact is, anyone in the market place these days can call themselves a "financial advisor"

or a "financial consultant" and anyone can hold themselves out as a "tax expert".

These identifying phrases have turned into commodities

and don't really mean much any more.

When you search for and select a trusted financial professional to work with,

it's critical that you feel confident that the person you choose is

competent, experienced and ethical.

So, how do you figure this all out these days?? 
 

I suggest a simple four step approach.

Credentials/Fiduciary Status, Experience,

Reputation And Process

Credentials/Fiduciary Status

Terms like Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, Registered Investment Advisor immediately come to mind, but there are literally dozens of specialized licenses and designations that can be earned.  That's the critical concept here.  The licenses and designations must be earned.  Anyone with a robust collection of credentials that requires extensive academic work, rigorous certification requirements, ongoing continuing education and a code of professional ethics is a good place to start.

Here is a critical suggestion.  Only work with financial professionals that hold themselves out as "fiduciaries".  Many people have heard the word before but most don't have a clear idea of its meaning and therefore don't understand why it's so important.

“A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter and in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence.  A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law.  A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the "principal"): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents. The word itself comes originally from the Latin “fides”, meaning faith, and “fiducia”, meaning trust.

Tony Robbins' new book entitled "Unshakeable" dives into the fiduciary concept with his typical evangelistic zeal, especially Chapter 5!!  I like Tony Robbins and embrace a lot of his teachings.  In fact, I've paid Tony large sums of money over the last few years to attend many of his events and purchase many of his products.  Don't misunderstand me though.  Tony is not some sort of savior of personal finance and investing.  There are large sections of Tony's new book that I politely and vigorously disagree with, BUT, when it comes to figuring out "who you can really trust" for financial advice and counsel, he has gotten this part absolutely right. Only work with financial professionals that behave as "fiduciaries".

Experience

This is a case where a little grey hair is NOT a bad thing.  Look for someone that has wrestled with the IRS more than a few times, prepared their share of tax returns  and implemented unique and innovative tax strategies.  Search for someone that has been through a number of financial market cycles and knows when to play offense and when to play defense with your investment funds.  And look for someone that has a few war stories and battle scars.  Experience is one of the best teachers around.

It teaches us all some wonderful lessons.

Reputation

Ask around and get referrals from trusted friends, neighbors and business colleagues.  Search for professionals that have well designed web sites, have written articles, blogs and even authored a book or two.  Look for someone with a very clearly defined vision, set of values and code of moral

and business conduct.

Process

Search for a financial or tax professional that uses a clearly defined and understandable process.  This process should cover all of the important aspects of a professional relationship such as . . .  establishing the basis of the relationship, establishing specific and individualized goals, gathering, analyzing and evaluating your financial data and establishing your financial status, developing and presenting appropriate strategies for you, fully implementing those strategies and then, most important of all, periodically monitoring and adjusting the strategies and plans.

Most experienced tax and financial professionals have also developed a unique philosophy or framework for seeing the world of money.  In my opinion, an organized, unified, comprehensive system for understanding how all aspects of your financial affairs should be coordinated and work together for your benefit is critical to your financial success.

Working with a financial professional on a sporadic basis or only on single services or transactions doesn't build long term relationships or allow the use of long term well coordinated strategies.

 

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the "Easy Button" when it comes to taxes, investments, estate planning, college planning or retirement planning.  A modest amount of work and thought must be done by everyone.  There really is no such thing as an "overnight success" and "get rich quick" are really nothing more than "get poor schemes".  Patience, persistence and focus are the qualities I see most often in successful and wealthy families.

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