One might think that wealth building through personal finance, financial planning, and investing is becoming easier because of the internet. In the 20 plus years since the internet has been available to us, there is no evidence of that. The evidence is of the opposite; more and more wealth is being concentrated at the very top end of our society.One might also think that the flood of financial services available might lead to a more prosperous middle class and help economic mobility, or at the very least mitigate our nation’s retirement problem. Again, no evidence of that; evidence of the opposite exists.So with more information than ever before, cheaper access to information and markets, and more “experts” to assist us, the average American still finds themselves underprepared for retirement, unsure of their financial strength, and overall behind in their financial goals.Why is this?There are many reasons for this, but one large reason, in our opinion, is incentives. The incentives of those that we trust for advice are at odds. This leads to contradictory advice from our information sources, resulting in a world of constant confusion and distrust. The real estate person promotes real estate investing over all else (their income is tied to real estate transactions), the typical financial advisor promotes investing in the stock market above all else (their income is tied to the financial markets),the insurance broker promotes insurance, and around we go. Recently we’ve seen the rise of bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, authors, and social media experts that aren’t regulated by any industry. Because they don’t charge a fee or commission, and because of the aforementioned distrust, these people appear to be more trustworthy, more “common man.” But under additional scrutiny, one would realize that these people are incentivized by book sales, subscriptions, and views. The easiest way to getthese is to stand on a position and attract those looking to confirm their already held beliefs. Phrases like “buy term and invest the rest,” “annuities are bad,” “financial planning fees and/or commissions are bad,” “being debt-free is the only way to be” are all statements without nuance that are there to provide simplicity for those wanting to avoid the complexities of finance; and those who already share an ideology.
This leads to a merry-go-round of financial decisions throughout a lifetime filled with blind spots, redundancies, and inefficiencies; stunted by fees, commissions, taxes, and opportunity costs.Personal finance, when optimized, is NOT simple. Juggling the ever-changing global economies, financial and real estate markets, taxes, insurances, regulations, employee benefits, and financial products, along with your constantly evolving personal habits, goals, emotions, and circumstances; is anything but simple.We at the AFP Group do not hide that fact. Our comprehensive financial plan option is fully customized in service offering and cost to meet your specific need(s). Our fee structure allows us to work for YOU, regardless of how many investable assets you own, regardless of which insurance you want to purchase or not purchase. We do, however, require our clients to meet us halfway by giving their precious time and brainpower to understanding the options available and helping choose the route most appropriate for YOU; your habits, your circumstances, your understanding, and your emotional state. The best financial plan in the world will fail if the client can’t stick with it due to fear, greed, or bad habits. All of which usually comes from a lack of understanding and education.Being a client of ours, you will experience a relationship rarely found in financial services, an intense and comprehensive one built on the premise of “trust but verify,” partnership, cost transparency, and consultation, not sales. Our 6 step process includes (in order) understanding your financial situation, cash flow & debt management, insurance review & planning, investment management, financial planning (tax, college, retirement, and estate planning), and execution.Most look at choosing a financial advisor like choosing a captain of a ship or a pilot; you tell them your destination, and you allow them to design a map and navigate you to your destination. We view it more like climbing Mount Everest with a sherpa. We will guide you, we will avoid common errors, apprise you of what to expect, and use our 100+ years in collective experience to adjust when needed. But you will also be climbing, putting in the effort right beside us.Navigating the Mount Everest of personal finance may not be the simplest. Still, with an experienced sherpa committed to partnering with you, step by step, to get you to your goals, you will put yourself in the best position to succeed.Let’s succeed together.The AFP Group