Simplifying Jargon in a Complex Industry

Investors often can be overwhelmed by all of the numbers and jargon thrown at them by the advisors, the financial press, and do-it-yourself investor websites. But turning to a financial app to clear the confusion usually leads investors down the wrong path. “You can have all of these tools available, but investors still have emotions; they are still people. They can still do the wrong thing at the wrong time,” said Ryan Evans, managing partner at Blueprint Wealth Advisors.

Multiply investor emotions by the industry’s new layers of complexity—demographics, geopolitical, technological—and the waters get even murkier for the muddled saver.

Evans explained that robo tools—such as automated asset allocation apps— came about to fill the previous generation’s information void. Whereas investors in the past lacked access to information, however, there has been a 180-degree shift today and now investors are inundated with information, which can cloud judgement.

“In the context of trying to help people become more informed, these tools can do more harm than good,” he added.

Evans believes the industry, in general, creates too much confusion for average investors.

“We are aware that not everybody does this every day. To use terms like ‘beta’ and ‘standard deviation’ actually make no sense to most people,” he said, adding that it’s important to take as much time as needed to explain concepts. Even 401(k) fee disclosures, while good in theory, he said, overwhelm both participants and plan administrators without a professional to decipher them.
Since starting Blueprint in 2012, Evans has made it a priority to help people answer one single question: “Will I make it?” But first, he added, they need to be able to discover what ‘it’ is. From uncovering blind spots to building a constantly reassessed full-life plan— which includes often-overlooked estate planning— Evans strives to ensure clients are prepared for a long retirement, despite all the ups, downs, and expenses that planning might entail.

Most people, Evans said, fail to account for long-term care costs, which can often lop $200,000 right off the top of their retirement funds.

“We don’t want anybody to be surprised when they are 85 years old and still around and don’t have any money,” he said, adding that he prefers dividend-growing stocks and yield-type investments to help retirees with inflation and cost of living increases down the road. “Fixed incomes can’t keep up.”

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