Retirement Planning

Wealth Designed, Life Defined

Countering negative emotions tied to money and defining a strong set of goals is key in helping investors stay on track to meet their financial targets. That’s why Robert Graves, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ , works with clients to understand market conditions, show them clear options during downturns, and – most importantly – to avoid panicked decisions.

Psychologists say that negative emotions feel stronger than positive ones – and that’s certainly true when investors are losing money instead of making it. Financial advisors, meanwhile, often talk about clients whose negative experiences resulted in long-term consequences to their investments, savings, or retirement planning.

“A lot of [former investors] will leave the market and not come back into the market even though it has recovered,” Graves, the founder and chief executive officer of Graves Financial Wealth Management, told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview. “That’s where we come in and try to talk with the client about what is happening, show them how they’re invested, and how we’re countering the correction, or the drop, of 15, 20 percent. That keeps the client calm and focused on their portfolio, their goals, and how are we meeting them, and from not panicking into running away from everything.”

Focusing on financial goals helps clients define what they really want in life and a develop set of investments to match. And wealth designed then becomes a life defined. That means clients who know where they want to be will be more likely to make it to retirement, or to other milestones such as home ownership, successfully. A skilled advisor is crucial in helping investors determine their financial goals, understand the implications of those goals, and then take action to reach them.

Graves Financial Wealth Management, based in southern California, provides wealth management and retirement planning services to clients ready to take control of their financial future. The company maintains a $250,000 minimum to sign on, but Graves said exceptions can be made for clients who align with the firm’s philosophy.

Graves left a large financial firm to become a financial planner after he felt that clients could be better served by a more robust, customized solution to their financial challenges. Graves Financial Wealth Management works with clients to develop a portfolio using stocks, bonds, equities, and whatever investment tools are necessary to “fit their life pattern,” Graves said.

To preempt clients from falling into negative cycles, Graves educates them about their finances. The daily financial media generates headline after alarming headline, which can create a sense of anxiety among investors. Often, that anxiety is unwarranted and the headlines fail to tell the whole story. Client education is key to making sure investors react rationally when the drumbeat of 24-hour news turns negative.

“There’s a continuing education process, and we talk in plain language so that they know what’s going on, because this is their life, their money, and their goals,” Graves said, adding that his firm publishes regular, weekly market commentary along with a quarterly outlook update and a monthly newsletter so that clients can get actionable information without a breathless newscaster causing concern.

graves400x300Client education helps investors see the big picture and make the right decisions. And as the financial industry becomes more complex, with new products proliferating into the market and life spans increasing to 90-years-old or even 100 (or more), seeing the big picture is more vital than ever. Graves said he takes clients through their retirement plans by showing them the possible results of their decisions today, and by emphasizing how much the world can change between today and the day an investor officially starts their long-awaited golden years.

“In a nutshell, what we are trying to do for retirement planning is to take a picture of their current position and then project out how that position will support them in their life as they go forward,” he said. “It’s an education process for retirement. One [person in each married couple] is going to live to 90, and there have been studies on what the medical costs are going to be from 60 to 90 and we have to look at how that’s going to work.”

Many clients also find themselves grappling with retirement planning while caring for elderly relatives and older children in their teens and 20s. These “sandwich generation” investors struggle to balance saving and spending at times, and Graves works with them to balance their priorities so that they are ready for the future. Clients and advisors often cannot accurately predict what the future might bring, and how much money will be needed to sustain quality of life decades from now.

“We try to get them to understand what the future may bring to the cost of living,” Graves said. “Don’t save 10 percent, try to increase to 15 percent.”

Graves Financial Wealth Management acts as a fiduciary, meaning clients’ best-interests come before the firm’s bottom-line. Graves’ responsibility toward clients is that his advice remains impartial and tailored to their specific financial needs. Investors should not work with advisors who fail to live up to a fiduciary standard, Graves said. To further assist clients, Graves stays in touch often and keeps abreast of life-changes.

“Once the client and the advisor determine the amount of communications, then we will keep that going,” Graves said.

Communicating early and often about goals allows Graves to adjust to clients’ life changes. And clients need to stay in touch as well, so that their advisor is aware of what is new and how their financial goals reflect their current needs. Information, communication, and the ability to see plans through are what investors need to stay on track and successfully reach retirement. A good advisor can help them get there, Graves said, but in the end, the clients have to be proactive and willing to work.

“Those goals can change … now, what are the new goals? Always communicate with the client and know what affects their life,” Graves said. “If you have this successfully covered, you’ll have a successful life.”

For more information, visit: gravesfinancial.com

Securities offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through CWM, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC is under separate ownership from any other named entity.

 

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