Don’t Worry, Be Prudent

Difficult financial situations often are fixable

People faced with tough financial decisions often react by kicking the can down the road over and over, usually while anxiety continues to build.

In fact, 72 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about money, according to an American Psychological Association study. Within that group, 22 percent reported feeling “extreme” stress when they thought about their financial situation. Moreover, people who struggle with debt are twice as likely to suffer from depression, according to a 2015 UK-based study by the University of Nottingham.

And while this anxiety builds, most people tend to react by, well, doing nothing.

“It’s the head in the sand mentality where ‘If I don’t look at it, I don’t have to deal with it,’” said Kathleen Cote, CFP, president of Cote Financial Planning, LLC. Cote, who is based in Tysons, Virginia, added that most people often have a very skewed view of how bad their financial picture is.

“It’s almost never as bad as they think it is,” she told “The Suit” magazine during a recent interview. “People are often surprised that with a few small changes, they’ll be in a better situation.”
Cote Financial Planning, provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services, with a focus on military personnel and families. Requiring a $100,000 minimum to invest, the firm acts as a fiduciary, meaning clients’ needs come first.

“There’s no need to be selling high-cost products to clients in their retirement accounts,” Cote said, adding that many prospective investors are surprised to learn that not all planners are fiduciaries.

The Department of Labor recently implemented new rules that require all financial services professionals — including insurance vendors and stockbrokers — to act as fiduciaries. Cote said that it was “past time,” for fiduciary regulations, even if some costs do rise for advisors.

“If it means firms are going to have to enforce minimums that’s fine, there will always be something to take up the slack,” she said.

Cote develops customized financial plans for clients, taking into account the possibility of unexpected life events. She also conducts periodic check-ups with clients to ensure that their financial plan changes with their circumstances.

“To truly be happy with the financial decisions you make, you have to consider how those decisions will affect the other parts of your life, your lifestyle, and your goals,” she said.

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