Finance

Dispelling the 'Magic bullet' Myth Reaching financial goals through education

Americans need to do some serious work on financial planning. About 40 percent of respondents participating in the 2018 U.S. Financial Health Pulse survey said they don’t plan ahead financially, reports the Center for Financial Services Innovation. Almost as many aren’t sure they are taking the steps necessary to meet their financial goals.

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Certified Financial Planner™ Eric D. King, founding partner of Bridges Wealth Management, believes that the best way to help people in this situation is through education.

“I’m an educator at heart. We spend a lot of time helping clients come to conclusions on their own. Unless they really see the value of the actions and want to implement the changes we suggest, those changes are going to be short lived,” he said. “Our job is to educate them on how they can achieve what they want to achieve. Once they understand what it’s going to take to get where they really want to go, they’ll move heaven and earth to get there.”

But, the education process can take time, he added. “Everybody tends to think there’s some magic bullet or secret sauce that the wealthy possess. What’s lacking is the understanding and acceptance that it takes time and discipline to achieve your financial goals.”


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King, who comes from a long line of educators, said that helping people to learn is in his DNA. Becoming a financial planner allowed him to combine his interest in how money works with his desire to help.

Unlike some advisors, King isn’t opposed to the use of robo-advisors or other financial planning digital platforms or apps – he thinks they can help educate consumers.

“I think robo-advisors are great. I think these apps are raising awareness. They seem to be engaging a demographic that is younger than what we have seen in the past. Financial literacy in the country is dismal right now, and anything that we can use to help with that is positive for the industry as a whole.”

While robo-advisors might be a good place to start, consumers can benefit from the experience and perspective a professional advisor brings to the table, he noted.

“In the end, do we really trust a machine to do everything for us? The danger with robos is that the result is only as good as the information we provide. And, oftentimes, we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Bridges Wealth Management is a full-service financial planning firm with offices in Corvallis, Eugene and Salem, Oregon. There’s no minimum investment required, because so many clients refer their children or friends to the firm. King regards referrals as a vote of confidence from clients, calling them “the biggest metric by which we judge ourselves.”

“Being referred means our clients trust us enough to talk to their friends or family about how we’re helping them,” he said. “We don’t spend time on marketing and trying to tell people how great we are. We’d much rather have our own clients talking about what we’ve done to help them in their own planning process.”

While every client is an individual, and is treated as such, clients share many of the same concerns, King said. Most worry about having enough money to retire comfortably. To provide customized financial plans that incorporate each client’s unique variables, Bridges Wealth Management uses a consistent process to discover the client’s goals and analyze their wealth situation. Each custom plan is reviewed on a regular basis.

As retirements stretch longer and the sandwich generation deals with aging parents and their own “boomerang” children’s needs, King focuses on controlling as many variables as possible.

“We strive to create situations that give clients the greatest flexibility in coping with change,” such as the ability to access capital if they must cover long-term care needs. “We also preach to clients that they need to make sure their own financial houses are in order before they worry about helping their adult children. The biggest help that we feel our clients can choose for their children is to not be a financial burden on them later on,” he said, adding that preparing for all possibilities is part of the process. “We ask pretty direct questions in our fact-finding process to see if there’s something that is a concern to them,” such as their parent’s health or their children’s financial standing, King said. “We try to minimize and mitigate the risks of these variables.

We obviously can’t account for everything, but luck favors the prepared.”

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER PRACTITIONER™, King is obligated to operate in a fiduciary manner, which he describes as living by the golden rule.

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The idea that planners should practice what they preach is important to King. In fact, he believes potential clients should always ask a planner “what they are doing personally.”

“If I’m going to take advice from someone on any subject, I want to know that they are walking the walk. How can you be a fiduciary for someone else if you’re not even willing to do it yourself?

If I’m not saving and investing and doing the things I’m talking with clients about every day, how can anyone believe me? What someone is doing in their own life speaks volumes to their credibility,” he said.

For more information, visit: Bridges Wealth Management

 

Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC).
Bridges Wealth Management is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by Voya Financial Advisors.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Voya Financial Advisors.
Control#: CN38045694_1220D

 

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