Category: Portfolio Management

4 Reasons Why You Need a Good Financial Advisor Now

A good financial advisor has a number of roles: planner, investment manager, educator who is willing to teach you about investing, and sounding board with whom you can share your fears and aspirations.

Why is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), a fiduciary who puts your interests ahead of his own, so important now? People often get over-confident during a Bull Market. It’s when the market gets scary that financial professionals really prove their worth.

We have all heard the old sayings about being diversified, buy low and sell high, and stay the course. That’s often harder to do than it looks, especially in trying times such as these, when investor psychology overtakes reason. A financial advisor’s job sometimes involves protecting investors from themselves. And to protect them from all the bad advice that’s out there and from the bad actors in the industry.

  1. The first thing that a fiduciary does is tell their clients that despite what you hear, no one can time the market. There may be some people who are exceptionally good at stock picking, but those rare individuals are not giving away their advice to you on TV, in Money Magazine, or in newsletters; I don’t care what they claim. If they exist at all, they are managing their own portfolios on an island in the Caribbean.
  2. The retail financial services industry has an incentive to sell you expensive products as often as possible. And they are very good at it. Don’t get caught in the frequent trading trap; it’s not to your benefit. A fee-only RIA does not have an incentive to sell you investments to earn a commission.
  3. Investors typically allow their portfolios to get too risky during the good times. When the stock market is going up, it’s too easy to get caught up in the excitement and ignore asset allocation guidelines. A good investment manager will rebalance your portfolio regularly to keep you from running into a Bear Market with a portfolio overloaded with risky stocks.
  4. A fee-only RIA works for you. Stockbrokers, insurance agents, even mutual fund managers, work for the companies that pay them. They are legally required to work in the best interest of their employers, not their clients. Some of them do try to work in their clients’ best interests, but there can be large financial incentives to do otherwise. A fee-only RIA works only for you. We act in your best interest and use our expertise to allow you to take advantage of opportunities in good markets and weather the bad ones.

During volatile markets, we focus on the important things that really matter, not the daily chatter. We keep open lines of communication with our clients, helping them make sense of what’s going on, providing perspective, and helping them distinguish between what’s just noise and what’s a genuine trend. We work hard to control risk and manage portfolios to help our clients maintain confidence in their financial future.

If you want to receive our weekly commentary, view our latest guides, or get a free download of the first three chapters of our book “Before I Go”, or just find out about us, visit us at www.korvingco.com.

How well do couples communicate on money? – Part 6

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Communication on financial issues between couples is especially poor, as we have discovered in previous essays.

Couples were asked what advice they would give to newlyweds and young couples about finances. Newlyweds usually do not put frank talk about finances at the top of their “to-do” list. That may be a big mistake.

The most common suggestions for young couples starting out in life together were:

  • Save as early as possible for retirement (57{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).
  • Make all financial decisions together (41{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).
  • Make a budget and stick to it (39{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).
  • Make sure you have an emergency fund (38{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).
  • Don’t hide expenditures (28{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).
  • Disclose income, debts and assets early (24{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}).

One of the easiest ways of accomplishing all of these objectives is for young couples to consult a financial advisor as soon as possible. By doing so they will reveal their finances to each other, develop a budget that matches their income, agree on an investment strategy, and be given a roadmap to long-term financial peace.

Our final essay on this subject will summarize what we have learned.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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How well do couples communicate on money? – Part 5

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Communication on financial issues between couples is especially poor, as we have discovered in previous essays. Despite concerns about medical costs, running out of money, inflation and Social Security, most couples have not created a plan to deal with these worries.

The 20{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} of couples who have created a plan get the benefit of peace of mind, less stress, and a more cohesive relationship. Uncertainty and doubt around important financial issues creates stress within relationships.
Couples who have a retirement plan in place:

  • Are twice as likely to live a very comfortable retirement.
  • Are 50{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} more likely to be “completely confident” in assuming responsibility for retirement.
  • Are much more confident that their partner will be OK in retirement.
  • Are twice as likely to know how much they will need in retirement.
  • Are less concerned about unexpected health care costs.
  • Are much less likely to be concerned about outliving their savings.

Having a plan to reach your goals is much like going to the grocery store with a shopping list. You know what you need and are less likely to forget important items, nor are you as likely to buy things you don’t need.

Creating a plan forces couples to be open with each other about their goals, their finances, and the issues that may keep them from achieving those goals. Working with a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP) to create a plan also brings an important measure of reality to the process. Professional guidance creates realistic assumptions about how much should be saved and the rate at which it should grow. A CFP can also help mediate differences between couples when issues arise.

Our next essay will focus on advice to young couples.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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How well do couples communicate on money? – Part 3

Most couples think they communicate well, but when it comes to their finances research indicates otherwise. Our previous essays on the subject have shown just how poor it typically is.

On the issue of retirement, nearly half (48{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}) of the couples surveyed had no idea how much they needed to save in order to maintain their current lifestyle once they retire.

Nearly half (47{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}) disagreed on the amount they need. Even more startling, those who were nearest to retirement – when changing course is the most difficult – disagreed the most!

Over half (52{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}) of the respondents had “no idea” what they would receive in monthly retirement income. Asked about Social Security, 60{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} either did not know, or were not sure, what they would receive. That includes the about-to-retire Baby Boomers.

Roughly one-third of couples disagreed on their retirement lifestyle. Half could not even agree on when they would retire.

Our next essay on this series will have a look at what financial issues couples worry about financially.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, contact Korving & Company.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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How well do couples communicate on money? – Part 2

Most couples think they communicate well, but research indicates otherwise when it comes to finances. Of course, talking about finances can be a minefield. If one partner is frugal and the other spends freely, tensions can be high. Disagreements about money are one of the leading causes of divorce.

More than four out of ten couples did not know how much their partner makes. Many were off by over $25,000! This can have serious effects. If you don’t know how much income you make as a couple, how do you know how much you can reasonably spend?

Unless couples lead totally separate financial lives, not knowing how much they are earning together can lead to a lack of savings or even debt. This issue could be behind the alarmingly high amount of debt that people carry, often at exorbitant rates.

More than one-third of couples disagree on the amount of investable money they have. This usually happens when there is a division of labor between couples, where one partner is in charge of the investments.

However, our experience indicates that couples also disagree on the kinds of investments that are appropriate. In general, men tend to prefer riskier investments that women. This can lead to a good deal of stress and disagreement.

Our next essay will take a look at couples in retirement.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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How well do couples communicate on money? – Part 1

A recent research report by Fidelity Investments studied how well couples communicated. The majority (72{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}) said they communicated very well. However, the study found that couples don’t communicate very well at all on finances, and many disagree on investing. The study included a wide range of ages. The couples were either married or in committed relationships. They ranged in age from 25 to retired.

Here is what the study showed:

  • 43{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} didn’t know how much their partner earns. 10{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} were off by over $25,000.
  • 36{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} don’t know how much they had in investable assets.
  • Nearly half had no idea how much they should to save for retirement.
  • 60{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} didn’t have any idea how much Social Security would provide for their retirement.

This proves to us that financial planning is very important; especially for achieving peace of mind and helping couples get on the same page about their finances.

We will be exploring this issue in upcoming essays.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, contact Korving & Company.

Korving & Company, the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year is a family owned investment management and financial planning firm. We deliver a very personal level of service to guide, empower and assure our clients that their money is carefully managed to meet their long-term life goals.

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Successful and investing and emotional control

One of the big benefits of professional money management is “emotional control.”

Emotional control is the ability to control one’s emotions in times of stress. Napoleon once said that “The greatest general is he who makes the fewest mistakes.” There is a similarity between war and successful investing. Both require the ability to keep a cool head at times of high stress.

There is another old saying in the investment world: “Don’t confuse brains with a Bull Market.” When the market is going up, it’s easy to assume that you are making smart investment decisions. But your decisions may have nothing to do with your success; you may simply by riding the crest of a wave.

That’s when people become overconfident.

When the market stops going up, or the next Bear Market begins, the amateur investor allows fear to dominate his thinking. The typical investor tend to sell as the stock market reached its bottom. In fact, following the market bottom in early 2009, even as the stock market began to recover, investors continued to sell stock funds.  Since then the market has doubled.

Professional investors are not immune to emotion, but the good ones have developed investment models that allow them to ride through Bear Markets with moderate losses and ride the rebound up as the market recovers. It is that discipline that allows them to make fewer mistakes and, like Napoleon’s general, come out ahead.

What to look for when getting financial help

What should you look for when you are searching to financial guidance? Finding the financial advisor that is right for you can be difficult. You want someone you can trust; a fiduciary, someone who will put your interests ahead of his own. In some respects, it’s like getting married because a good relationship is open and long-lasting.
To help you in your search, here are a few things to look for.

  • Compatibility: like a spouse, you want someone you can talk to and who shares your view of life. If you are not compatible, you will always be on the lookout for someone else.
  • Philosophy: what is your advisor’s investment philosophy? Is it capital preservation, beating the market, getting a fair return? Is that compatible with what you’re looking for?
  • Strategy: how does your advisor go about achieving your objectives? Do you understand it? If not, ask more questions.
  • Experience: how many years has he been in business? Try to avoid having a rookie learn on the job with your money.
  • Certifications: does your financial advisor have a certificate from the International Board of Standards and Practices for Certified Financial Planners? The CFP™ designation means that he has completed the coursework and passed the test to become a Certified Financial Planner™ certificant.
  • Affiliation: is your advisor an employee of a large financial firm or is he Independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor). Employees of large financial firms work for their company, an RIA works for you.
  • Compensation: how is your advisor paid? Fees, commissions, a combination of fees and commissions? It’s important for you to know this ahead of time.
  • Reputation: does your advisor have a good reputation in the community? You can also check to see if he has any mark on his record by checking with FINRA.
  • People like you: does your advisor deal with other people like you? This can make a difference in his understanding of the issues you are dealing with.

Finding a good advisor can make the difference between your financial success and failure. He can keep you from making major investment errors and bring you peace of mind. Twice as many people who get professional advice feel very secure about their financial future as opposed to those who do it on their own.   Korving & Company is an RIA whose principals are Certified Financial Planners™ (CFP™).  We are fiduciaries who put our clients’ interests first.  Our objective is to get a fair return.  We have decades of experience. We are fee-only.  We are proud of our reputation in the community.  Are we right for you?  Find out.

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The lure and risks of “alternative investments.”

The financial world has been deluged marketing offers from investment firms offering “alternative investments.” “Alts” are non-traditional investments.  They include non-traded REITs, hedge funds and private equity.

The lure of “alts” is summarized in a quote from Financial IQ:

“The 2008 financial crisis scarred investors enough that they’re still seeking new ways to diversify out of stocks and bonds. Meanwhile, investors also are hungry for yield amid persistently low interest rates.”

The problem with “alts” is that they are not well understood.

Many are not liquid – in other words they cannot be sold at a moment’s notice.

In addition, most are not transparent – you can’t always tell what you own because the “alts” managers are secretive, unwilling to reveal their strategy in detail.

Third, the fees charged by “alts” managers are often much higher than those charged by traditional managers.

Many of the “alts” use derivatives which are difficult to understand and can lead to risks that are not obvious. An example are the “guaranteed” structured notes created prior to 2008. When Lehman Brothers collapsed it was revealed that the “guaranteed” notes issued by Lehman were backed by the claims paying ability of a bankrupt company.  People lost millions and learned a painful lesson.

Our philosophy is to invest our money in securities we understand. We always want to know: what’s the worst thing that can happen? If we don’t understand the risk, we don’t invest.  It’s a lesson learned over the years as we keep in mind the first rule of making money:  don’t lose it.

If you were widowed, would you fire your husband’s financial advisor?

According to an article in Financial Advisor magazine,

Surviving spouses — statistically, wives — have a habit of firing financial advisors. Most sources peg the rate at about 50%, but the advisor-education website says the rate is closer to 70% if you wait a few years for the penny to drop.

Why is that?  It seems that most advisors have an “unbalanced advisor-client relationship.”  That means the advisor focuses on the half of the couple that seems to be more financially savvy.  This results in the surviving spouse, often the wife, not really thinking that the advisor is “her” advisor.

The article goes on to suggest that the advisor “provide basic, nuts-and-bolts financial advice to the surviving spouse.”

At Korving & Co. we go one better.  We have written a set of books “Before I Go” and the “Before I Go Workbook” anticipating the issues that the surviving spouse will face.

That’s why when our clients lose a spouse, we rarely lose the survivor.  They know that we focus on the family and the surviving widow trust us to take care of her.  In fact, we often find that when both husband and wife have passed on, the children come to us to manage their affairs.

For a personally autographed copy of both books, or more information on how we can help you, contact us.

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