Managing the moving parts of your financial picture can be complicated, and it only becomes more complex as your wealth increases. Engaging a well-rounded team of professionals and loved ones is essential to making sure that your financial- and estate-planning bases are covered.
When I started in the financial services business (don’t ask the year!) most people I worked with saw it as a lone-ranger business. They liked the idea that their clients came to them to get financial products and services, retirement advice, but weren’t particularly worried about what that meant for taxes and estate planning. Maybe a referral to an attorney or a CPA would happen here and there, but rarely was the idea of a financial management team considered.
In 1999, Kevin Mackintosh and I pioneered what we called “The Trilogy Concept.” The idea was to bring together the expertise of a financial advisor, a CPA and an estate attorney all for the benefit of the client. Rather than force the client to get three different sets of advice from three different sets of conversations and data, we wanted the advisor to be the quarterback of a coordinated process, helping the client make their financial decisions in concert with these three critical pieces of the puzzle. Three professionals, three perspectives… Trilogy.
Much has changed in the nearly 20 years since we pioneered this idea. It is now widely understood the retirement and financial advising needs to happen in the context of good financial and tax advice. Today, in our corporate offices in Huntington Beach, California, we have a full-time CPA and a full-time estate attorney just down the hall. This office set-up gives our advisors and our client's immediate access to guidance in those areas if they need it. And beyond this, our financial advisors from coast-to-coast partner with real estate professionals, mortgage brokers, tax preparers, business attorneys, and estate planners. Many of these regularly gather at our Strategic Partners Forums which are designed to build communication and alignment between Trilogy and our partners.
But in the end, it’s not about us; it’s about you. Do you have a financial team? How would you know it if you did? Here are a few quick questions I recommend you consider to evaluate the strength of your team.
- Do my financial advisor, CPA, and estate attorney speak to each other? (So many don’t!)
- Does my estate attorney ask about my financial goals when considering my estate documents or do they put everyone in the same boilerplate plan?
- Does my CPA coordinate my short-term tax planning (how to lower my current year tax rate) with my long-term plan that they’ve coordinated with my advisor?
- Do I sense that my goals are driving my decisions or is each financial professional giving me competing advice, forcing me to make decisions out of context?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, it might be time to do some team building. For some people, this means looking for new financial partners. If that’s you, we’ll have resources on the blog throughout the month to help you make those decisions. For many, it will mean keeping some of all of the professionals you currently work with but re-empowering your financial advisor to help quarterback these solutions.
Either way, it’s time to make your financial goals a team project. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to decipher competing advice. Put yourself in the position to be surrounded by a group of professionals who all have your best interests at heart.