Retirement Planning

Mapping Financial Success

The Art of Wealth Navigation

The alphabet soup menu of certifications for financial advisors has grown to be quite extensive. According to a Kiplinger newsletter article some ten years ago, there were more than 100 types. Most observers agree there are maybe 125-150 designations nowadays.

A recent account published in September 2021 by “U.S. News and World Report” listed the “10 Best Financial Certifications” for professionals. In no particular order, these were: Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), and Financial Risk Manager (FRM).

But talk to Richard Tegge, president and owner of Marquette, Michigan-based Wealth Strategy Group — and also an AIF® and PPC™ — and he will boil down that menu into simple terms. Tegge considers himself a navigator, first and foremost.

Tegge short“My dad, Richard Sr., was a decorated U.S. Air Force Navigator who successfully guided his crews to destinations around the globe, from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the frozen tundras of the north and south poles,” Tegge writes on his website. “I inherited his passion for navigation, only I develop routes to desired wealth/financial destinations.”

The entrepreneurial Tegge did not start out in the investment business.

“Soon after college, I started a business with another gentleman when I was in Florida that dealt with field force automation,” he told “Advisors Magazine” in a recent interview. In short, field force automation leverages software, geo-tracking and assorted mobile wireless devices, allowing technicians in the field to collect data, sync it in real time with a central system and share the information with other users.

After selling that business, Tegge moved back home to Michigan and entered the world of financial advice. He did two years with Edward Jones before being lured by Smith Barney, where he spent nine years running a satellite office as a financial advisor. Smith Barney closed the office in the fall of 2008.

And Tegge started his own independent practice in January 2009.

“A very interesting time to be launching out on your own as we were at the depth of the Great Recession,” he recalled. “There were many challenges, especially leaving a name like Smith Barney where I was doing a lot of institutional money management with several hospitals and other entities. And that business doesn’t roll over to an independent firm right away; it takes time.”

Time is needed to build a level of confidence in one’s own name versus riding the name of a major wirehouse broker.

“So, during that timeframe I reinvented my business,” Tegge said. “I focused on the needs of small business owners, as well as those preparing for and entering into and enjoying retirement.”

For business-owner and individual clients alike, Wealth Strategy Group’s credo is ‘creating clarity and confidence.’

“For business owners it’s about understanding the process of basically monetizing all those years of work that were put into the business so that they can now turn on an income stream based on those efforts,” Tegge explained. “And there’s a variety of things that go into that well before the business owner is ready to retire. There are things that we can do in preparation for that retirement to help improve the net amount they take after taxes through the sale of the business, for example,” he added.

Such clarity and confidence also applies to individual accounts where Tegge’s clients come to understand the investment process, resulting in fewer concerns.

To date, it has all worked out well. “We have a great team here, composed of an additional advisor who is also our planning specialist as well as client service associates focused on the day to day needs of clients. We are blessed with some great folks to work for.”

Reflecting his respect for navigation, Tegge deploys a proprietary financial planning piece called Route2Retire, or R2R. It’s a tool designed to educate, navigate, and motivate clients when on the road to their retirement dreams.

“So many times, people go online to a planning app and they start putting in all their information,” Tegge explained. “All of a sudden, it’s then asking for a copy of this, or copy of that, or more details and information—and the individual doesn’t have that all in front of them.”

What usually happens the informational input process stalls and people never get back to completing the online app.

“With our focus, the first step is to gather all the information that’s needed to put into the software,” Tegge said. This is done through the Route2Retire workbook.

“Additionally, we have embraced quantitative analysis on the investment side in building out full portfolios,” he added. “And we feel that taking a variety of the bias out of the investment selection process with quant-based models can help our clients.”

Navigating through nasty weather

That approach has served both clients and the firm well, especially early in the pandemic when the markets took a major hit. Tegge notes that his clients didn’t panic because they knew Wealth Strategy Group was focused on the situation.

“They understood that we were navigating the issues for them.”

Red lightBut as the pandemic has stretched into 2022, Tegge and his team are more concerned about something else; something not directly related to financial wellbeing, but rather, overall wellbeing.

“We deal with a lot of folks already in retirement and formerly very active business owners who are now in their 70s and 80s,” Tegge said. “And as this pandemic has dragged on, many are losing their ability to get out, socialize and complete themselves. They’ve really drawn in their social exposure, and that’s a big concern of ours.”

As such, Tegge and his team are making sure to reach out with a call or a visit on a regular basis to those clients.

“There are a range of emotional aspects associated with this pandemic, and it’s important to just talk, or to see if there is anything we can do to help as a result of the different world that we’re in.”

And should their clients want to talk investments and general economic conditions, Wealth Strategy Group is prepared to do so.

“Although the markets have maintained themselves very well through the pandemic until just recently, we’re now starting to see inflation, and that is a concern,” Tegge said. “It’s something that had not been an issue for many, many years, but now inflation is having an impact on some of the investment management that we’re doing.”

Some of Wealth Strategy Group’s clients, according to Tegge, are very concerned with the massive amounts of money the government is printing and distributing to the public and how it may all impact markets and their investments.
“We address such concerns in portfolios, but no one really knows how such government actions might affect interest-bearing investments,” Tegge said. “We explain to clients that we could see a sizeable downward market correction of maybe 20 percent, and we’re always preparing for our clients for that type of event.”

Tegge’s remarks, in fact, were made before the Dow Jones Industrials, S&P 500 and NASDAQ all saw double-digit percentage declines during the first three weeks of January 2022. He emphasizes that education and a sense of perspective is vital.

“Investors that understand the history of the markets know that such things occur periodically,” he added. “We make sure that clients are aware such things can happen, that we’ve already discussed it, and that we will make adjustments to their portfolios in order to manage through those kinds of situations,” Tegge said.

Indeed. A navigator’s skillset is perhaps never more valuable than when faced with a turbulent storm.

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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.


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