Reimagining Mortgage Advice

The first step on a full financial journey

It’s such a clichéd scene, that it’s now embedded in the minds of most homeowners: the day when the mortgage is paid off and it’s ceremonially burned in a fireplace or an ashtray. And conventional financial wisdom—from the likes of Dave Ramsey to Suze Orman—is to pay off a mortgage as soon as possible.

But there’s little that’s conventional about David Ingle, Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA®), Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS®) and founder/CEO of Synergistic Wealth Management, LLC, located in Chandler, Arizona.

Sure, his practice provides the full range of financial advisory services — from investment planning for every stage of life, to helping clients design retirement strategies aimed at reducing risk and increasing cash flow. His niche, however, is mortgage wealth management, because he firmly believes a client’s home is one of the things that can have the largest impact on their financial success.

“I believe your mortgage is probably one of the greatest wealth building tools you have access to, regardless of your level of wealth,” Ingle said in an interview with Advisors Magazine.

“My opinion is that a mortgage is not bad debt,” he explained. “When people tell you to pay off your home as soon as possible, I feel that’s among the most destructive advice you can follow. For the average American, I believe that is absolutely the wrong decision to make.”

Challenging mainstream thinking, however, is part of Ingle’s DNA. Even his path to a financial services career was atypical. It dates back to 1979 when at the age of eight he was playing in a Pee Wee Football league. Ingle recalls being bored after his game ended and having to wait around for his brother’s game to finish.

“I was just walking along the bleachers,” he recalled. “I looked down at my feet and saw a Wall Street Journal. And I recalled my grandmother telling me that when you’re bored, or can’t figure out something, pick up a newspaper and maybe it will inspire you.”

Mesmerized by the numbers in the paper’s midsection, Ingle was inspired to read an article about Coca-Cola stock. It was then that the owner of the paper — a good family friend who was into securities — showed up. Impressed with Ingle’s eagerness to learn, he took him under his wing and in the ensuing years began teaching Ingle all about markets and investments. At one point, years later, Ingle says he even met Warren Buffet.

Ingle qouteToday, Ingle is registered as an Investment Adviser Representative. He has worked at Merrill Lynch and completed Yale School of Management’s program for designation as a Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA®). Ingle is also trained as a Certified Financial Coach and Certified Behavioral Finance Expert. Before launching Synergistic Wealth Management in 2018, he served as a top mortgage loan officer at Bank of America and trained in Private Wealth Management.

All that experience means that educating clients plays a pivotal role at Synergistic Wealth Management. But it’s a two-way street. The process allows Ingle to learn about each individual client, and then he can teach them about new financial planning methods to minimize the chances they will keep repeating the same potentially costly mistakes.

“Everybody’s retirement planning is different,” Ingle noted, “but I don’t think it’s challenging to provide a custom solution. Our challenge often is getting clients educated so they understand there are different facets of their life to consider and there are different reasons why we’re doing certain things.”

He added: “Sometimes it is harder to talk to clients about the plan than the actual planning itself.”

Ingle lamented that many people are not taught finance in school anymore.

“When I was a kid in grade school, our school had these packets where you practiced applying for phone service, setting up a bank account, and balancing a checkbook,” he said. “We see that many of today’s kids really struggle with the whole concept of money – what it does and what they should do with it. “

Ingle also believes that the industry’s overall approach, as well as the individual dialogue between financial advisors and clients, needs to turn more positive, open and transparent. Prospect messaging, in his view, is too often designed to make people feel uncomfortable.

“There is just too much marketing of doom and gloom,” he said, “because on the behavioral side, most people will not make a decision to do anything or change their situation unless something happens and/or they have been made to feel uncomfortable.”

Not paying down a mortgage quickly is a frequent message that can cause discomfort, or even panic.

debt mortgage“There are headlines decade after decade saying Americans aren’t saving enough and don’t have enough to retire,” Ingle emphasized. “But handling mortgages are where the biggest mistakes happen. In fact, it’s so wrong that it’s destroying Americans’ ability to be able to retire with enough income.”

And while he does agree that people should generally pay off a mortgage by the time they retire, or perhaps a few years afterwards, Ingle maintains that mortgage planning can play a particularly meaningful role in holistic planning for retirement. For example, there may be tax efficiencies in carrying a mortgage that can help offset a substantial required minimum distribution (RMD).

That’s why his process starts with a client’s largest asset – their home – and then works through other factors, such as IRAs, tax management strategies, and income withdrawal strategies.

Ingle’s core philosophy might be summed up as follows: ‘Mortgage’ doesn’t need to be a dirty word; it should be a primary topic in any wealth-building conversation.

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