Changing Perspectives

Blog post #392

After my three-day learning group session ended with fellow advisors from across the country in Monterrey, California, I went for a walk before heading north towards the airport. 

As I walked along the jagged, rocky Pacific Coast, I came upon a group of people peering into the Pacific Ocean. 

I took the following picture…..as I was focused on the ocean waves crashing into the rocks. 

As I got closer to this gathering, it seemed like some of them had pretty extensive photography equipment. Some were talking, others just looking out. But I didn’t listen carefully enough. I took this next picture….still focusing on the water. I was looking for sea lions, but didn’t see any in the water. But I kept looking…..

Then I heard what the others were saying. I listened better. Then I realized my focus was wrong. I had the wrong perspective.

I was looking out too far. My focus was incorrect. 

Much closer to me, but not in the water, were many sea lions or sea otters warming themselves on the beach… not in the water. This is what the others were focused on, which I did not see at all. 

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As investors, you may sometimes be focused on the wrong thing. It is our role, as your guide and financial advisor, to help you to focus on the right things. We want you to have the proper perspective.

You may be focused on political concerns or that the US or other International economies may be slowing. 

However, we feel that it is vital to remain invested, as appropriate to your personal Investment Policy Statement (asset allocation plan). We feel that this discipline is important to help you reach your long term financial goals. We think this is the best perspective for your financial future. 

So while it may be true that the US or International economies may be slowing, with that perspective, you may not realize that US and globally diversified stock funds are up double digits for the year. 

Is your focus and perspective on the right things? Are you focusing on the long-term or what you can control?

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For the past 15 years, I have been privileged to be part of an incredible learning group. We started in 2005, with a core group of advisors who were willing to try something new and join a program led by a financial industry expert, for a significant fee. The group’s members and how it has been run has gradually changed and evolved over the years, but the focus has always been on learning from each other and from the many speakers we brought in.

These meetings and the discussions, and during regular calls between meetings, gave us new perspectives. It helped to make sure we were focused and had the right perspective….what were the best ways to serve and advise our clients. We wanted to keep current and exchange ideas, so we could be better for you, our clients. 

Since the very first session in the summer of 2005 in Santa Monica, CA, I have not missed what became an annual Spring meeting, as well as October sessions, and for the past few years, a few days in January. 

For a multitude of reasons, I will likely be part of a new learning group starting this fall.I have mixed emotions about this transition, as I have developed great personal relationships with the members of my group. However, many of these advisors are older than me and will become part of a group which will have a greater focus on issues related to their own retirement transitioning. Their perspective is different than mine, as I am not retiring anytime soon. 

As we discussed the group’s transition Monday morning, one member from Nashville stated “this is about business. It’s not personal.” And he is right. I need to do what is best for my clients, which is what we always strive to do. 

While I may miss some of these personal connections that I have made, I will surely develop new ones….and that is exciting and invigorating to me. It is an opportunity to learn and exchange ideas with a new group of outstanding advisors. 

And that is really the primary goal of these learning groups. My responsibility, focus and perspective is always to strive to be a better advisor, to continually learn and develop a better firm, so we can better serve, guide and advise you, our clients, as best as we can. 

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As I write this on the plane back from California Wednesday morning, I have many pages of notes, ideas and concepts. I look forward to digging deeper and implementing the ideas that were presented and discussed, which will benefit you, our valued clients. 

From the broadest perspective, I remain very confident in our long- term investment strategy. 

As I tighten the focus, our mission is to strive to provide each of you with an excellent financial experience, hopefully for your lifetime.

And we will have a far better chance of providing you with a successful financial experience by participating in these learning groups, as well as other ways to learn and strive to always get better. 

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If you have worked with other financial advisors, you may (or may not) realize that many of them likely do not participate in these types of learning experiences. Ours are not trips provided as a reward for selling a certain mutual fund or reaching some sales/commission target. 

If you have friends or relatives that could benefit from the advice and guidance which you have received, and from the dedication to continuous learning that we have, please let them know about our firm. We would be pleased to help them as well. You can start the conversation. 


The Power of Investing In……

I am writing this on my way back from a meaningful and extremely worthwhile BAM Alliance learning group session.

It was thought provoking. It was memorable.

It has the potential to be transformative.

I made new connections and relationships. I strengthened and renewed others.

It is the power of investing in moments.

U.S.S Yorktown, Charleston, South Carolina

My three days in Charleston were successful because of the talented staff at BAM, our back office firm, who invested significant time and energy to create moments and experiences.  Additionally, I was intentional to take the time to plan for the session in advance.

One of the valuable additions to this meeting were two, 30 minute book review sessions. One of the books was The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath, which I highly recommend.

As financial advisors, we focus on investing, viewed financially. This book advocates investing time to plan and create more memorable and elevated experiences in all aspects of your life. 

The authors of this very readable book feel that “life and work are full of moments that are ripe for investment.” They cover many aspects of life and settings, such as schools and education, families, businesses and organizations.

The Heath brothers feel “we must learn to think in moments, to spot the occasions that are worthy of investment….The “occasionally remarkable” moments shouldn’t be left to chance! They should be planned for, invested in. They are peaks that should be built. And if we fail to do that, look at what we’re left with: mostly forgettable.” (Emphasis added)

Invest time in advance to plan peak moments and be intentional and creative about it. Make an effort to elevate the experience. For certain life moments and experiences like a trip, invest time to end the experiences with peak moments.

The authors write “when people assess an experience, they tend to forget or ignore its length-a phenomenon called “duration neglect.” Instead, they seem to rate the experience based on two key moments: (1) the best or worst moment, known as the “peak”; and (2) the ending.” This is called the “peak-end rule.” It is not the length of the vacation or experience which counts, it is about the peak moment during the experience and what happens at the end of the experience that creates the memory impact.

This is particularly true with vacations, as we remember the peak moments of a trip and the ending. I can attest to this from my vacation to Florida in March. It was good, but not the best. My memory of this Florida vacation was negatively impacted because during the last two days it rained and my wife was sick. We had a bad ending, in the authors’ terms.

These were things beyond our control. However, I assume that if the rain and Felicia getting sick had occurred at the beginning of the trip, rather than at the end of our vacation, I’m pretty sure the authors would be correct and I would have a more favorable memory of this trip.

I accomplished a number of objectives during these few days at the BAM Masters Forum event because I was intentional. I wrote out goals before arriving, people I wanted to connect with and talk to about certain matters. Other discussions occurred spontaneously and without any prior planning.

For this 12th annual gathering of fellow advisors from across the country and a number of BAM staff members and executives, BAM requested that we bring “wedding attire” for one dinner, so I brought a sport coat and nice slacks, rather than the normal resort attire. They asked us to participate in a southern bow tie competition, so I borrowed a bow tie and wore one for the first time. It made the evening quite fun and special. It elevated the evening. We took group pictures and admired the diverse collection of bow ties. The early planning resulted in a more memorable evening for all.

My learning group session ended with another memorable dinner on Tuesday night. My flight home was Wednesday at 2 pm.

Wednesday morning, I could have slept in, packed and gone to the airport. I did things differently, with great results.

Wednesday at 9 am I toured the World War II aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, originally commissioned in 1942 that was docked near my hotel. This was incredible experience. As I walked up and down the ship’s steep stairs, it’s 6 levels and the enormous flight deck filled with planes of different decades, I was filled with gratitude and appreciation for those who served on these ships, flew the planes that took off and landed, those who lost their lives on missions and the hard work and ability of those who designed and built these behemoths.

After visiting the ship, instead of eating hotel food for lunch, I took an Uber into downtown Charleston for some great southern fried chicken at Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oyster Shop (well worth it!!). Even though I was rushed to arrive at the airport, the last minute stress will not be my memory a year from now. My positive memory of the end of this trip will be of the incredible aircraft carrier and the delicious fried chicken. 

I read most of The Power of Moments. There are many more valuable insights to be gained from this book than just the few I highlighted. I plan to apply some of these concepts within our firm and in my life. This will take effort, as the authors note, but it would be well worth the investment and time to implement some of these concepts and ideas.

Who should read this book: Almost everyone. Those who want to have a more impactful and enriching life, or help others to have one. Certainly parents, business and non-profit leaders, teachers, coaches and medical professionals.

Inspired, Positive and Helping

Our clients’ interest comes first. Always.

Trust. Transparency. Being a fiduciary.

Learning to be a better listeners and communicators. Being authentic and present.

Life is not perfect, but we are fortunate to live in the US. We should be much more positive about the future, despite all the negativity which surrounds us.

bam-conference

These were some of the major themes at the 2016 BAM Alliance Annual Conference, which I attended earlier this week, for the 14th straight year.Attending this conference every year reinvigorates and motivates me. It reassures me that we are doing the right thing, in the right way, for our clients.

We all should be prepared for the unexpected. Unexpected events will occur, some of which can be major and life changing. How each of us prepares for, and how we handle these situations, can have a significant impact on our future. We can help you with this.

You need a team around you. A support system. Trusted advisors. Friends. Partners. Relationships.

We have great long-term business partners, such as:

  • DFA (the 6th largest mutual fund company in the US with over $445 billion in assets under management, whose stock funds we use extensively),
  • BAM Advisor Services, our back-office firm, and
  • Fidelity Investments, the custodian for most of our client accounts.

We are proud that we selected each of these firms and our investment philosophy in 2003. These very important decisions have withstood the test of time and challenging financial markets.

We are truly grateful and appreciative of the clients and relationships we have developed.

We are always continuing to learn and improve ourselves, for your benefit. That is why attending conferences like these are so valuable.

One of the most moving speakers I have ever heard was John O’Leary, who survived a horrendous fire which he set when he was 9 years old. on-fire-book

That he is alive and thriving is almost unbelievable. He has taken this unexpected, life changing event and turned it into a transformative experience, which he shares with others.

John now motivates others to have more inspiring, meaningful and impactful lives. Because a number of people showed up, cared and took action in the days and months after his tragic fire, he reminds each of us that one person, one action, one decision and one right relationship can make a real difference.

John challenged each of us to ask the following question everyday…..

What more can I do to help you (and others), to ensure that you (and others) have a better tomorrow and a better future?
How can our firm help you to have a better tomorrow and a better future?

For more information on John O’Leary, please see http://johnolearyinspires.com/ and his book, On Fire. I have not yet read the book, but plan to do so in the near future.

Tax Update

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama introduced a number of tax proposals which would affect individuals and families.

At this time, due to the Republican control of both the House and Senate, we do not feel that any of the major proposals that the President discussed have a chance of being approved by Congress. Thus, they will never make it to the President’s desk to become law.

If you have read articles that have discussed these proposals, which range from an increase on the tax for capital gains  and dividends for high income taxpayers to changes in how assets are handled upon an inheritance, we recommend that you NOT be concerned about these at this time.

While it is possible that there will be some kind of tax reform or changes passed during 2015 or 2016, there is no planning that we would recommend now, based on the President’s speech.

What you can focus on

During the past week, my partner Keith Rybak attended the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Conference for 3 days. I attended a number of these sessions virtually, through the Internet. This is one of the largest advanced planning conferences in the country, with over 1,450 CPAs who specialize in investment management attending in person or online.

Some of the major tax takeaways from this conference, which may be beneficial to you, are:

  • Multi-year tax projections, if you think you will have taxable income above $200,000 in one of the next few years. With the introduction of the  3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) in 2013, planning should be done if your income will fluctuate above and below the $200,000 level, depending on whether you are single or married. If possible, planning may be done to time certain sources of income to minimize or eliminate the impact of this tax.
  • A review of trusts and estate planning should be done in relation to the same 3.8% NIIT tax, as the taxable income level that trusts are impacted by this surtax are much lower than for people. If you have established trusts for your descendants, it may be valuable to review your documents to see if it would be beneficial to enable the dividends and capital gains from the trust to be passed through to your descendants, who may have a much lower tax rate.
  • Asset location of certain investments:  This is a topic that we have written about previously, as it is so important. Certain investments and mutual funds holding different types of assets can cause different types and amounts of taxable income to you. In planning your investment portfolio, it is beneficial to determine “where” your investments should be located, meaning whether they should be held within a taxable or retirement account, if you have the opportunity. A mutual fund that tends to generate more dividends than others should be held in a retirement account, not a taxable account. This will save you taxes, simply by where the fund is held.

 

If you have a questions about one of these technical matters, please contact us.

But almost more importantly, we want to talk with you about your goals, your dreams and concerns, as well as about your money. By doing this, we will be better able to work with you, to understand you better, and be able to plan and advise you more effectively.

 

 

 

 

2014 Book Recommendations

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio is a young adult book I have been reading with my daughter. It is a terrific novel which tells a middle school boy’s experiences with a severe facial deformity, through the voices of many characters. I highly recommend this for adults and children.

The Ghost of My Father, by Scott Berkun, is an intensely personal book. The author shares his family’s relationship experiences to explore the impact his father’s actions caused. This book has caused me to really consider the effect of relationships and memories of past experiences.BW books

Essentialism by Greg McKeown and The One Thing by Gary Keller emphasize doing less is more, and how to strive towards that. Essentialism is one of my favorites of the year. The 100/0 Principle by Al Ritter focuses on business and personal relationships.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell prompted me to read a number of his books this year. I also read David and Goliath, and Outliers. See my blog post on parts of David and Goliath. Gladwell will get you thinking.

Ari Weinzweig, one of the co-founders of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses had a profound impact on me this year. I read all three of his business/leadership books and will do so many times again in the future. I highly recommend Building a Great Business, Being a Better Leader and Managing Ourselves (this book is for anyone, even if you are not in business).

Jason Womack’s Your Best Just Got Better is an invaluable read on improving yourself. I highly recommend his weekly podcast of the same name (full disclosure: the podcast is produced by my son, Scott, and Jason is my executive coach and has become a wonderful friend).

Seth Godin has just published a wonderful book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, which is another in his theme of getting motivated, doing and taking chances. I also read two of Steven Pressfield’s books of a similar nature and highly recommend The War of Art, if you want motivation to break down any form of resistance, to start a business, exercising, writing or dieting.

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Thank you for your loyalty to our firm, which we greatly appreciate. Thank you for the tremendous support in reading these blog posts, which I committed to writing weekly in June of this year. It has been a great experience, which I hope you have enjoyed and learned from, as I have.

Best wishes for Happy Holidays, a happy, healthy and successful 2015!

 

My Three Words 2014

The “My Three Words” concept is based on blog posts I read by  Chris Brogan. The idea is that rather than set a bunch of New Year’s resolutions, to develop three words for the year that have meaning and context for various aspects of your life and business.

This concept is about taking a step back, evaluating where you are and then looking at where you want to go in the next year(s). This was a great exercise and one I plan to do each year.

2014:

Relationships – To strengthen relationships with the key people in my life, particularly my immediate family, relatives and friends, as well as client relationships. I want to develop and improve relationships with those whose lives I can add value to.  I want to spend more time with people who can assist us in furthering our business and in other aspects of my life. Tom Peters said this perfectly in a recent quote:  “All we have, as in all, personally or professionally, is the quality of our relationships!”

 Consistency – I want to be consistent about doing what is most important. I want to be more consistent and committed to routinely doing certain things.  As a result, we will have a better firm and my clients will be better off .  Professionally, this means being more proactive with clients and meeting client commitments in advance. It means developing and adhering to more internal systems, which will make our firm stronger.  It means blogging more regularly.  Personally, it means adhering to goals that I want to do regularly, such as exercising.

 Expert – I want to take steps to be viewed as an expert in our community and possibly nationally. We are truly grateful for the growth of our firm and the clients who have referred us to others.  To continue growing by gaining significant new clients, through referrals or other ways, I/we need to be more recognized as a go-to person/firm in the greater Detroit area and beyond. We will need to explore what this means, how to get there and who can help us.

 

If this prompts you to consider this “Three Words” exercise, please share it with me, either via the website or email me directly. I would love to see what your “Three Words” are for 2014.

 

Learning, Connections and Dinner

I read a lot. I consume information from many sources (newspapers and books, both in print and electronic, as well as via Twitter). I have always been this way, just the sources and methods have changed. Since I was a teenager working at my local public library, I have read the Wall Street Journal every business day.

An essay I read on Monday has stuck in my head. David Butler of  Dimensional Fund Advisors wrote about the “Currents of Success” that flow through great financial advisor firms. He wrote that one aspect of successful financial advisor firms is “intellectual curiosity.” He wrote that “building a great firm requires genuine intellectual curiosity and openness to new ideas…”

Which leads me to dinner last night. I attended an event sponsored by Lynne Golodner, of Your People, LLC a Southfield Michigan public relations, marketing and business development firm. I joined a group of 10 other business owners and Lynne, to share thoughts and ideas about our businesses and learn from her.

The food was delicious (glad I finally got to go to Cafe Via in Birmingham). The conversation was good. Interesting. Thought provoking. Questions were direct and challenging, but in a respectful manner.

As I drove home, my mind connected the DFA essay and the dinner together. Why had I attended? To learn more, as I always learn more by attending a conference, seminar or hearing a speaker. For the same reason that I traveled to Florida to spend a day with Bob Burg and many other speakers in May, 2012. For the reason I spent 3 days with  Michael Port in 2011 outside of Philadelphia. Why I spent years working with John Bowen and I now participate in the Strategic Coach program. For the same reason I participate in a peer group phone call with my BAMAlliance financial advisor colleagues nationally, every two weeks and attend many BAMAlliance seminars throughout the year.

Attending events or programs like these can be expensive, both in time and money. But if viewed as an investment, as a way to grow, to learn and improve, and possibly to build new relationships, then the investment is almost always worthwhile. There is always more to learn to better serve and advise my clients, as well as to grow intellectually.

Each time I attend an event or conference, there are new ideas to implement, things to change and new people that I’ve met. The challenge is to implement and develop the personal connections. The challenge is to prioritize to adopt new habits. Lynne challenged us to blog more. Share our ideas. Write in a more personal manner. I know if I blog more there will be benefits.

Will I blog more regularly in the future? If I do, then the evening with Lynne will be even more worthwhile.

Great Relationships, Advice and Wine

To strive to provide better guidance and service to our clients, both Brad and Keith have participated in “study groups” for many years. Since 2005, Brad has participated with approximately 25 advisors in the BAM Masters Forum, meeting at least twice a year with advisors nationally affiliated with The BAMAlliance.

Brad’s Masters Forum group met in Napa, CA last week. A highlight of this meeting was spending Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning with David Booth, CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA).   http://www.dfaus.com/  David very openly shared his views with us on a wide range of topics and we had an excellent Q and A session with him.

David provided perspective on being in the financial business since 1981, the market downturn in 2008-09 and the increases in the financial markets since then. He stressed the importance of investor behavior. A key to investor behavior is a client’s relationship with a good financial advisor, as the advisor can assist the client to adhere to their financial plan and stay in the market.

David made complex topics simple. Structure a globally diversified portfolio. Rebalance it. Have a long term perspective. Do not be jumping in and out of the stock market. DFA’s strategy of stock investing should outperform most “active” money managers due to less frequent trading and lower fees charged to clients

To reap the rewards of the long term upward trend of the stock market, one must remain invested. Booth noted that only DFA and Vanguard, of all major mutual fund companies, had positive stock market fund inflows during the downturn in the financial markets. These investors who added to their portfolios, or stayed the course and did not sell, have been rewarded for doing so. The lesson is that while the stock market has risks, which often appear, the stock market provides rewards to those who are able to be patient enough to reap these rewards.

With this consistent philosophy and methodology, DFA has grown to become the 9th largest mutual fund company in the country, managing $290 billion.

Monday evening, Booth then hosted us on a visit to his Booth Bella-Oaks vineyard and the neighboring Staglin Family Vineyards. http://staglinfamily.com/ We met with the two vineyards’ winemaker. The winemaker, a former hedge fund manager, explained how technology is used to monitor the development of the grapes. With computer networks and current technology, he can now monitor the vines and grapes continuously. The improved technology allows him to have more information and improved decision making as the grapes develop. Even with this technology, there are still many factors beyond his control which affect how successful the wine will eventually become. As we cannot control or forecast the financial markets, they cannot control the weather or other important factors which are key to producing great wine.

David explained some of the structural changes he has made to his vineyard since purchasing it in 2010. He has uprooted and will replace many acres of vines to grow better quality grapes. This means that no grapes will be harvested from these acres for at least a few years. He is investing for the long term, with the expectation of a greater return per acre in the future.

Booth is changing the direction of the new vines, from vertical to diagonal, so the grapes will get more balanced exposure to the sun. The vineyard used to be planted with only one type of grape. He is planting numerous varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The winemaker will then combine these grapes in various combinations after the harvest to optimize the taste of the resulting wine. Like a financial portfolio, he is restructuring his investment to give it the best chance to produce a good outcome, but the actual result is not guaranteed.

David has a vineyard, but his property lacks equipment to actually make wine. However, he has developed a close relationship with his neighbors, Shari and Garen Staglin of the Staglin Family Vineyards. After seeing David’s vineyard, we went to the Staglin’s winery. We entered into their vast, spotlessly clean caves built into a mountain where hundreds of barrels of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are stored. They will produce thousands of cases annually. As the Staglin’s had excess space and production capability, as well as a winemaker who could efficiently share his services between the two vineyards, Booth’s grapes will be made into wine at the Staglin facility.

This neighborly relationship (and good friendship) will benefit both Booth and the Staglin’s, just as our clients benefit from the close relationship we have with DFA and my fellow advisors in the BAM community. As we had dinner at the Steckter House on the Staglin property, we learned more. Shari and Garen Staglin explained how they renovated the house, built in the late 1800s. They added solar panels on the grounds, which now produces power for the house and its executive kitchen. We toasted a family ancestor, who provided the inspiration for one of their wines. The Staglin’s talked passionately about their charitable values and efforts. The family has raised and donated nearly $725 million, primarily to mental health research. All the proceeds of their Salus Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon brands are donated to this cause. http://staglinfamily.com/philanthropy.html

Shari Staglin talked to me about the houses and properties near their winery, all dating back over 100 years. Like their neighbors, the Staglin’s view themselves as stewards of this land, which they will maintain and improve, then pass on. Their vineyard is now certified organic, as Booth’s is planning to become. The Staglins were gracious and warm as they educated us about wine, their property and their personal values.

Opposite from the entry to the Staglin caves, was a large bench. On the bench’s huge backing, is the following inscription:

Staglin Family Vineyards: where shared values are the keystone of relationships.

The meetings I had with my fellow advisors and the time spent at the two vineyards shared a common message. Having shared values with our clients will produce great client relationships. Having great business partners that we can trust and interact with, like the BAMAlliance and DFA, will benefit our clients. It will enable us to provide our clients with a successful lifetime of integrated financial experiences, so our clients can be comfortable and secure.

Remarkable Experience. Worthy of an Encore.

What makes something remarkable? Memorable? Have impact? Worthwhile?

What inspires 200 people to travel from all over the US and 3 separate continents for 2 days to listen to a number of speakers?

I returned Saturday evening from a remarkable 2 day conference, which was sponsored by Bob Burg, author of The Go Giver and a number of other books.

Each one of us who attended took a risk, not knowing whether the time we would be spending away from our families and offices would be worthwhile. As I have learned from attending two different events, this year and last, great value can be obtained by attending these types of events. I trusted the person organizing it, Bob Burg, and was confident that he would gather an outstanding group of presenters. He delivered and exceeded my expectations.

This was not an investment or financially related conference (which we attend a lot of). Will my firm and our client’s benefit? Absolutely! We recognize the value in continually learning, being exposed to new and different ideas from many different sources. This helps us to continually review our practices and procedures, to renew our energy and strive to improve.

I heard (and interacted with) very diverse and knowledgeable speakers. They addressed topics ranging from leadership, service to our clients, marketing, social media and “personal development” (for lack of a better word).

There were numerous takeaways for me and my firm. Some of the themes which were emphasized were the importance of deepening and maintaining relationships (even in a social media world), how to create even more value for our clients, being resilient through the ups and downs of life and a business, and the benefits of working with others in mastermind groups (like peer learning groups, which we have done for years). Another reminder was to have fun and add more humor to our lives. As with all events like these, the keys are to follow through and our ability to be disciplined and implement ideas from the conference.

One of the speakers, Mark Sanborn, wrote a book titled Encore Effect, which discusses how to create something remarkable, and to be able to have the discipline to deliver it at a consistently remarkable level. He is encouraging us to create a performance, or a business, that is worthy of an encore, a standing ovation.

By attending events like this, by making the time and effort, we are continually striving to improve ourselves and create a firm that others will feel is worthy of the term, an “Encore Effect.”

How a Financial Advisor Can Add Value

These are some of the ways that we provided value for our clients during 2011:

• Listened. We have listened and talked with them, to help them handle the volatility of the stock markets. As a result, they have strived to maintain their investment plans, which should benefit them in the long run.

• We have adhered to our cornerstone investment fundamentals: recommending globally diversified stock portfolios, holding very high quality fixed income investments, focusing on asset allocation, and the use of Investment Policy Statements.

• We have rebalanced our client portfolios throughout the year, focusing on the discipline of buying asset classes when they are low and selling them when they are higher. Similarly, we have done tax loss selling throughout the year, as applicable, not just at year end.

As we have strong CPA backgrounds, we have provided financial advice about many topics to our clients, such as:

• We have advised numerous clients on various aspects of their mortgage refinancing decisions, so they could take advantage of historical low interest rates.

• Made recommendations for our clients’ 401(k) plan investments, as we consider those retirement assets part of their overall investment portfolio.

• Assisted clients with college tuition planning, which ranged from evaluating section 529 plan decisions and investment options, to advising grandparents who wanted to make major prepaid contributions.

• Advised a number of clients on significant Roth conversions, which should have huge long-term benefits for these individuals, as well as future generations of their families.

• Helped a number of clients with charitable planning, including the planning, establishment and investing for charitable family foundations. These will benefit both the families now, as well as numerous charities in the future.

• Required minimum distribution planning, for clients who are older than 70 ½, who are required to take distributions from their various retirement accounts.

Other things we have done, which benefit our clients:

 

• We have attended numerous national conferences, as well as participate in biweekly peer group phone conversations with fellow advisors, to learn, share ideas and become better advisors.

• Read. We are voracious readers, of everything from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, both in paper and digital forms, as well as trade publications, books, blogs, Twitter and podcasts. We are continuously reading and learning.

• Blogging and Twitter: this will be the 28th blog post that I have written during 2011. Writing blog posts is a great way for us to communicate our thoughts and views on a timely basis, which we hope is valuable to our clients and prospects. Brad is also very active on Twitter, which is a terrific way for us to communicate with others, both in terms of sharing information that we find valuable, as well as connecting with numerous people throughout the country that we learn from every day.

Part of our core investment philosophy is recognizing that we do not have a “crystal ball” and cannot predict the future. We focus on what we can control, to the best of our ability, on behalf of our clients.

As financial advisors, our guiding principle is to try to provide our clients with a greater sense of comfort and security, so they can enjoy and focus on the other aspects of their life.

We are truly appreciative for our clients and the many referrals that we have received in 2011, as our firm has continued to grow. We hope that you and your family have a very enjoyable holiday season and that 2012 brings you good health and happiness!