The Heart of Financial Planning

Engaging in meaningful conversations

The landscape of investment products is broad and extends well beyond stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, which are familiar to many investors, according to FINRA—the group authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the broker-dealer industry operates fairly and honestly.

And when it comes to retirement planning, there is no single product that’s the silver bullet, according to John Caserta, managing director, MSFS, ChFC®, at Caserta & DeJongh, LLC.

John Caserta“If someone is going to a financial planner expecting some sort of transaction or product to be recommended that will solve all their problems, they’re probably not going to ultimately achieve their goal,” Caserta told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview.

He maintains that it comes down to educating people about all things money—how money works, all the things that money touches and the emotions involved. “If a financial advisor is not having those meaningful conversations with people, then the client ultimately does not get the most out of the relationship,” he said.

Based in North Haven, Connecticut, Caserta & de Jongh puts education at the core of its financial planning process. The process reflects the firm’s trademarked tagline: Our Knowledge. Your Vision.™

And it starts typically with information gathering about a client’s current state and any plans they’ve had in the past.

“From there, we go to work in terms of educating them about not only what they’ve already done but the other strategies that exist that can help them achieve their goals,” he explained. “We’re also looking for the right fit, because we need somebody that is going to be open-minded, engaged, value that education, and realize that this isn’t a transactional relationship.”

Caserta added: “It’s a dynamic process where things are going to be changing and it’s our job to be educating them about those changes.”

He said he never wants a client to come across something they were not aware of, or something that was not discussed. “I always want to make sure that they have the latest information and know all the pros and cons about all the possible different decisions that can be made,” Caserta emphasized.

Back in college, Caserta knew that he wanted to run his own business where he could work with people in some capacity to help them with their issues. He considered many careers where he could potentially do that, but he always had an interest in personal finance.

John Caserta1After college he spent a few years working in finance and insurance for larger companies. Caserta even spent some time as a journalist writing about the corporate bond market. Eventually, he received his licenses, joined a large financial planning firm, and then partnered with Bob de Jongh, retired founding partner.

Caserta tells clients that financial products are commodities. Whether providing highly customized solutions or model portfolios as a portfolio manager, everyone uses the same tools. But it takes a craftsman to customize a solution.

“Our approach to retirement has always been a balance between having some level of guaranteed income for our clients and then some sources of funds to drive income, and always having some level of predictability built into that retirement plan,” he summarized.

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