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How A Fiduciary Can Help You Through Financial Planning

By Trilogy Financial
November 11, 2023
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Many Americans spend more hours than they’d like managing necessary financial components of life while balancing caring for a family, performing at work and enjoying time with loved ones. Despite working hard to try to strike a perfect balance, financial planning, saving and investing can be tedious and time consuming, and maybe even daunting.

This is where a fiduciary comes in.

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What Is a Fiduciary?

The term fiduciary is thrown around in the financial services world, but few people truly understand it.

A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, and puts their clients' interests ahead of their own. A fiduciary has a duty to act in good faith and serve clients by earning trust and confidence. Being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the client’s best interests.

To the Financial Advisors at Trilogy Financial, it’s more than that. Yes, we believe “fiduciary” means putting clients best interest before our own. However, we take it steps further to demonstrate with evidence that our proposals are in the client’s best interest. The evidence, be it in a financial planning concept or investment strategy, is the key to being a fiduciary.

Why Is It Essential To Work With a Fiduciary?

When a fiduciary presents evidence that their proposals are in the clients best interest, it leads to confidence. That confidence leads to good financial decisions over time. As Life Planners, that is what Trilogy’s Financial Advisors are working towards.

A fiduciary's main goal is to help set clients on an upright financial track through financial behavioral coaching, accountability and to help clients develop a Life Plan. A financial advisor and fiduciary will also help you prepare for retirement by maximizing the profitability of resources directed towards saving plans, develop estate plan strategies and more.

As Advisors, we anticipate individual’s or family’s needs over time, which allows us to be a better fiduciary. We believe a true fiduciary guides clients through life’s roughest patches and toughest situations.

Let a Fiduciary Be By Your Side When Life Planning

Let’s face it…a fiduciary can help ensure your financial goals are aligned in the same direction as your ambitions. Right? Proper financial planning requires objectification of your goals through the hands of an excellent financial partner who can help you with the following.

Help you save for retirement

For many, having $1 million worth of liquid cash and a list of profitable assets by the time they retire is a dream come true. However it’s a difficult dream to work towards for many Americans. That’s where a fiduciary comes in.

The secret to getting the retirement and lifestyle you dream is preparedness and time. The earlier you begin to save, the better. Beginning early allows you to make small contributions that will accumulate to a lump sum amount over a long period. For instance, if you start saving $5,000 every year from your mid-20s, by the time you are 40 years old, you will mostly likely have crossed a quarter a million mark. Remember, you will still be young, energetic, and even determined to save more. Because compounding is so powerful, if you continue saving the same amount by the time you are 65, you could be almost at $1.5 million, more than what you had intended to save.

In contrast, if you start saving at 35, even if you double that amount to $10,000, you may stagnate at $840,000 by the time you hit retirement age. So, the earlier you begin to save, the more you will receive at retirement. But do not be deterred if you are starting later in life. With the right planning, it’s never too late to achieve your goals. A Trilogy Financial Advisor can develop strategies to compound savings through investments and other growth opportunities.

Save for education stress-free

According to Market Watch, an average American will spend over $58,464 on their child's education from primary school to the undergraduate level, doubling the UK's average spend and tripling France's. Now imagine you are the head of a typical American family with more than 3 dependents; you will need almost $200,000 for education alone.  This is a huge dent in a family's finances. Fortunately, a fiduciary can help you save for education and college. Saving about a third of your earnings for a decade with the purpose of spending it on education will take the pressure of school fees off your shoulders.

Grow your wealth

The potential of growing your total net worth is an exciting process. Our Financial Advisors help you to navigate investment opportunities and mitigate risk, serving as guides as you work to grow your investments. At Trilogy Financial, we believe investing is about more than positive returns. Growing your wealth is a tool that can help you achieve financial freedom and live the life you’ve dreamed of. A fiduciary can coach you through building out the investment portfolio that aligns with your unique goals, and empower you to make the meaningful decisions to pursue your life dreams.

Plan your estate strategy

Due to the complex nature of estate planning, estate strategies should be tailored to your unique needs. And each strategy should aim to protect and preserve your assets for future generations.

Regardless of the value of the estate, a fiduciary will help you plan for the estate by:

  • Ensuring your beneficiaries receive what you’ve planned for them after you pass
  • Planning for lifetime gifts through trust and minimization of diminishing estate taxes
  • Helping you to pass assets or a business to your younger generations
  • Identifying powers of attorney to ensure your wishes come true

 

Trilogy Takes a Bold Financial Approach

For us, care is at the center of everything we do as fiduciaries.. We care about each client like they’re an extension of the family. Every day, with every piece of advice, we empower our clients to live wealthy. Ready to explore the benefits of working with a fiduciary? Review Trilogy's Financial Life Planning Tool to see some of the areas of focus we’d suggest on the path to financial freedom.

Bottom Line

A fiduciary helps you make critical financial decisions that are in your best interest, for your Life Plan. Our Financial Advisors work with clients nationwide. Regardless of your location, we have an office nearby or a virtual way to connect from the comfort of your home.

Start Life Planning today.

Fiduciary investment advisory services are only offered through Trilogy Capital (TC), a Registered Investment Advisor. TC markets advisory services under the name of Trilogy Financial (TF), an affiliated but separate legal entity. TC and TF are separate entities from LPL.

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By
Mike Loo, MBA
March 21, 2018

When it comes to choosing your 401(k) lineup, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by your options. It’s likely why more than 70% of 401(k) plans include at least one target-date fund. Also known as lifecycle or age-based funds, target date funds were created to simplify the investment choices for 401(k) plan contributors. Depending on your company’s 401(k) plan, they may be named something like Target Date Fund 2050, meaning you anticipate retiring around 2050. Target-date funds give employees the option of choosing one fund that diversifies their investments among stocks, bonds, and cash (the allocation) throughout their working life.

Considered a “set-it-and-forget-it” investment option, some investors choose target date funds as a default so they can avoid having to rebalance and update their portfolio allocations over time. The theory is that younger participants, having more years until retirement, can take higher risks in order to achieve higher expected returns. Since the funds focus on a selected time frame or target date (usually retirement), its asset allocation mix becomes more conservative as that date approaches. The percentage of stocks is reduced, and the percentage of bonds and cash is increased.

While target date funds may help encourage employees to participate in their company’s 401(k), there are a few misconceptions about how they work, and it’s important to understand these considerations before choosing your 401(k)’s investment lineup.

Target Date Funds Can Significantly Vary

Many investors get caught up in the year attached to a target date fund. If they change jobs and contribute to a different 401(k) plan, they may assume the target date fund is the same as their previous plan. Or, they believe that a 2050 target date fund is nearly identical to a 2055 target date fund.

However, target date funds with the same target date can significantly vary in their portfolio lineup. Fund families typically have their own unique approach with their target date funds, meaning a John Hancock target date fund likely won’t offer the same ratio of stocks and bonds as a Fidelity plan.

Take a look at this example from InvestorJunkie:

The percent of equities at age 65 significantly differs between target date families. When each of the target date funds has its own fee structure, mix of assets, and risk tolerance, it’s nearly impossible to measure performance between these funds.

Target date funds don’t just vary by their lineup. They can also have different fees.

As we can see in the chart above, the expense ratios considerably vary based on the target date and the target date family. Fidelity Freedom is more than 0.5% higher than Vanguard, which can take a toll on your portfolio when you’re investing for several decades.

Should I Invest in a Target Date Fund?

Like Though not a panacea, target date funds offer a reasonable alternative to the often confusing world of too many investment choices. Ultimately, there isn’t a single recommendation one can make for everyone. Each person has unique needs and circumstances, and they need to be taken into consideration when selecting their 401(k) lineup.

Before choosing a target date fund, there are a few factors to consider.

What do you want the fund to do for you?

Do you want a fund that is at its most conservative allocation when you retire or a fund that will take you through retirement? A target date fund’s allocation changes based on a set timeframe. If your fund is designed to help you get TO retirement, the amount invested in stocks will substantially decrease as you near your retirement date.

A fund that’s designed to get you THROUGH retirement changes allocations based on your life expectancy. These funds will have a greater amount in stocks at retirement than the to funds and thus be higher risk. Knowing which type of fund you own is critical to your ability to assessing its riskiness, along with its long-term expected returns if you are able to stay the course with it through troubled times.

What are the funds’ target allocations?

Whether it’s a to or a through plan, what are its target allocations? How are decisions about allocation made and do those choices complement your needs?

What's your risk tolerance?

Target-date funds can be more aggressive or more conservative than expected. During the 2008 financial crisis, many investors with 2010 target-date funds suffered severe losses because they didn’t realize their portfolio was invested in more stocks than they thought. Would you have stayed invested if the fund had struggled in 2008? If not, perhaps you should look at a more conservative option.

What are the fees?

Target-date funds can often cost more than other funds because they’re known for their long horizons, and their fees will vary by target date family and target date. If you are more cost conscious, you may prefer to invest in index funds.

Choosing Your 401(K) Lineup.

When there are a plethora of investment options from which to choose, take the time to understand what you want from them and find a fund that meets your needs. If you would like to discuss target date funds or other 401(k) options. I encourage you to reach out to me. Call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email me at michael.loo@lpl.com.

The target date is the approximate date when investors plan to start withdrawing their money.

The principal value of a target fund is not guaranteed at any time, including at the target date.

No strategy assures success or protects against loss

By
Mike Loo, MBA
September 12, 2018

Before the year’s end, in the midst of the holiday events, travel, and overall busyness, the last thing you want to think about is tackling your finances. But considering how finance-related resolutions are the third most popular New Year’s resolution, why don’t you give yourself a head start on next year’s financial goals by finishing this year strong? Here are ten critical financial actions you’ll be glad you took when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve!

  1. Amp Up Your Retirement Savings

If possible, max out your contributions to your 401(k) by the end of the year to make the most of your retirement savings. For 2018, you can contribute as much as $18,500 (or $24,500 if you are age 50 or older). You might also consider contributing to a Roth IRA. For 2018, you can contribute as much as $5,500 (or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older). Keep in mind that if your income is over $199,000 and you’re married filing jointly, you won’t be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA.

  1. Use Your Medical And Dental Benefits

Did you have good intentions of taking care of some dental work, blood tests, or other medical procedures? Now’s the time to take advantage of all your healthcare needs before your deductible resets. Dental plans in particular often have a maximum coverage amount. If you haven’t used up the full amount and anticipate any treatments, make an appointment before December 31st.

  1. Verify Expiring Sick And Vacation Time

Depending on your company, your sick or vacation time might expire at the end of the year. Check with your HR department to learn about any expiration dates. If your sick or vacation time does expire, fit in a last-minute vacation, a staycation, or trips to the doctor to use up these benefits.

  1. Use Your Flexible Spending Account

Like your health insurance benefits, you’ll want to use up your FSA (Flexible Spending Account) dollars by the end of the year. Your benefits won’t carry over and you’ll lose any unspent money in your account. Check the restrictions for your account to see what the money can and cannot be used for.

  1. Double-Check RMDs

If you’re retired, review your retirement accounts’ required minimum distributions (RMDs). An RMD is the annual payout savers must take from their retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and traditional IRAs, when they turn 70½. If you don’t, you may face the steep penalty of 50% of the distribution you should have taken. To calculate your RMD, use one of the IRS worksheets.

  1. Stay On Top Of Charitable Contributions

If you made a charitable contribution in 2018, you might be able to lower your total tax bill when you file early next year. It can be especially advantageous if you donated appreciated securities to avoid paying taxes on the gains. Along with your other tax documents, find and organize any receipts you have from your donations to charities, whether it was a cash, securities contribution, or another type of gift.

  1. Review Your Insurance Coverages

A lot can happen in a year. As you experience life changes, from the birth of a child to marriage to a new career, it’s important to regularly review your insurance coverages and your designated beneficiaries. Now is the ideal time to review your current insurance policies and make sure they are up to date. You might also want to evaluate your need for other types of insurance you may not currently have, such as long-term care insurance.

  1. Prepare For A Market Correction

We are currently in the longest bull market in history2 and the stock market just keeps hitting record highs3. But we know that what comes up must eventually come down. Prepare yourself and your money by sticking to a long-term strategy, rebalancing your portfolio, and keeping your emotions in check. As long as you are following sound investment principles, only investing long-term money, and keeping your assets within your risk tolerance, you should have no reason to panic when we experience a market downturn.

  1. Talk To Your Kids About Money

The holidays are usually a time for families to get together and reconnect. Use this time intentionally by talking with your kids about money. No matter how old they are, you can give them sound wisdom that will set them up for success. Make sure they understand the importance of saving for retirement and having the proper amount of insurance coverage. Another way to help your kids financially is to create an estate plan to make sure you leave a legacy and avoid passing down a significant tax burden or legal headaches to your kids. If you’ve already taken the time and energy to create an estate plan, you’ll want to check in periodically to ensure all the documents are up to date and no major details have changed.

  1. Give Without Gift Tax Consequences

It’s never too early to start planning for the legacy you want to leave your loved ones without sharing a good portion of it with Uncle Sam. You may want to consider gifting. Each year you can gift up to $14,000 to as many people as you wish without those gifts counting against your lifetime exemption of $5 million. If you’ve yet to gift this year or haven’t reached $14,000, consider gifting to your children or grandchildren by December 31st.

  1. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/22/longest-bull-market-since-world-war-ii-likely-to-go-on-because-us-is-best-game-in-town.html
  3. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/08/21/stocks-hit-record-highs/922315002/

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