CEO Insights

A flexible practice to handle different situations

Many less affluent people may think that a financial advisor isn’t interested in working with them. That’s not the case with Sidney Phillips, founder of Virginia Beach-based Dominion Financial Partners, LLC.

When Phillips was just 6 years old, his dad died and there was barely enough insurance for a decent burial. “I saw my mother work 3 jobs to support three kids, I was the youngest,” he said recalling the effect on his family.

Sidney Phillips 124 MOD 28512x64029While the bulk of his clients today are high-net worth individuals and his firm focuses on retirement and estate planning, his origins in the insurance industry help keep those at every financial level from making the mistake his dad made. With professional designations including Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Life Underwriter®, and Certified Financial Planner™, his experience and flexibility allows his practice to handle many different situations.

Phillips sees an educated prospect as a great client, and he aims to take the mystery out of retirement. He gives clients all of their options – without using industry jargon – so they can make informed decisions about their financial future. Starting with the basics, Phillips wants to know what their criteria is for retirement, and what’s important to them. That’s part of the educational process on both sides. Once clients feel comfortable about their investments, insurance and other options, they have a better idea about what is important in their planning.

“Some clients want to know how the watch is made and some just want to know what time it is,” says Phillips.

Millennials are flocking to the digital financial advice offered by robo-advisors. While online robo-advisors are here to stay, and are appropriate for a small percentage of people, Phillips knows a client’s questions and feelings aren’t identifiable by an app. Apps ask the user hard fact questions, not the soft questions so essential for truly dealing with a client’s financial issues. Apps come up with an answer, but it is a general reply with no specificity for the individual. Soft questions include what a person plans to do in retirement, what makes them comfortable and their risk levels. When a professional asks both hard and soft questions, the result is a custom-tailored plan.

Helping people understand longevity is part of Phillips’ daily work. The problem is that some clients don’t feel they are going to live that long. The fact remains that there’s a 25 percent chance of those currently age 65 living another 30 years, and planning for that long a retirement is challenging but necessary. Along with the longevity planning comes the long-term care discussion, and how clients want to handle that possibility. Just over half of those now age 65 will experience a long-term care event. While traditional long-term care policies can help, there are also hybrid policies available to keep clients from ruining their assets.

“You have homeowners, car and life insurance, and you need asset protection insurance,” he says.” Phillips points out that long-term care insurance is really for the caregiver, who might otherwise wear themselves out. A discussion with children of older clients helps them understand long-term care planning benefits them, too. “I plan for the worst, but hope for the best,” says Phillips.

When asked about changes needed in the financial world, Phillips says it’s the assumption that investors are better off on their own than using a professional. Not so, he says. Even fairly sophisticated investors in the market will lose more money because they base decisions on emotions, while money managers invest based on fundamentals and earn more money than do-it-yourselfers.

“The industry is trying to put more into investor’s hands and I don’t think they’re ready for that,” he says, adding that it’s also crucial for investors to make important financial decisions when time is still on their side, and a professional provides guidance every step of the way.

For more information, visit Dominion Financial Partners, LLC.


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