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What Is A Fiduciary?

By Trilogy Financial
February 18, 2021
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What is a fiduciary?

When selecting a Financial Advisor, it’s important to know they will be looking out for you and the money you worked hard for all your life. Not all financial advisors are the same. When considering a financial advisor to partner with, it’s important to know if they are fiduciaries, meaning they will be ethically obligated to work in your best interests to help you reach your goals.

Why choose Trilogy?

At Trilogy, we operate by suitability standards in offering advice and recommendations that are the most suitable to your needs. We aren’t just salesmen looking to sell products that earn the highest commission. We are dedicated Advisors, financial life planners, who use our expertise to guide you to make smart money decisions. We recommend investments and financial products that are the best fit for your life situation.

Trilogy Capital Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor. We are a fee-based firm. That means some of our Advisors earn commissions from the sales of certain insurance or securities products. While this incentivizes our Advisors to be the best they can be at their job, be assured that they put people first to select the best solutions for you.

You have a team behind you

When you work with Trilogy, you don’t just have just one Advisor, you have a team who have an ethical duty to recommend what’s best for you. We are specialists with decades of experience in wealth management and protection.

Life planning

With our Advisors, you can be sure they have a fiduciary duty of care to work at the highest level of trust in creating and reviewing your Life Plan. When they make a recommendation, it’s because they feel strongly it’s the right fit for you and your needs, in the life stage you are now and for the future.

Investing for your future

Our financial professionals work in a fiduciary capacity with our investment platforms. We value our relationship with you and work to maintain your trust. We look at the big picture and consider all aspects of your life regarding your personal financial situation.

We know managing your finances can be a full-time job. That’s why our Advisors are there for you to ensure your investments are properly diversified for your risk tolerance. We also monitor other service providers working on components of your plan (including investment companies, record keepers and third-party administrators) to make sure they are catering to your needs and in a cost-efficient manner.

Managing risk

Your fiduciary Financial Advisor will review your personal situation to determine where the risk factors are when it comes to protecting your wealth and recommend insurance products that best fit your needs to add peace-of-mind protection. Whether it’s long term care or life insurance – we’re here to set you up for success so you have a solid plan for whatever comes your way in life.

In keeping with our fiduciary commitment to you, we are an independent financial planning firm. That means we don’t own any insurance products. We’ve done the legwork to find reputable insurance companies who have a proven track record of financial security and claims-paying ability, so you can be confident we recommend products that have the credibility you can count on.

A partner you can trust

When you work with Trilogy, you can finally take a breath in knowing you have a partner who will look out for your finances and do what is best for your life situation and help you meet your financial goals. You can get on with enjoying life, not worrying if you have the money to cover it.

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By
David McDonough
October 30, 2019

FIRE, an acronym for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” is trending as a new financial lifestyle.  In a nutshell, FIRE promotes extreme savings in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, with the goal of being able to live off passive income from the accumulated nest egg much earlier than typical retirement age.  Some proponents suggest saving 70% of your income until you have collected 25x your annual salary, cutting your working years in half.  Extreme saving is not a new idea, but the phrase has taken off in the last couple of years, creating a cult following online.

Putting aside additional savings to fund a “work optional” lifestyle is a fantastic idea in theory, but most Americans would find it quite difficult to only live on 30% of their income without making DRASTIC changes.  If you are willing to downsize, live with roommates in a cheaper part of town, eat beans and rice, drive an old car/take the bus, and limit purchases, you could be successful at FIRE.  However, this level of deprivation may cause unintended sacrifices that impact your social life and happiness.

Our take on FIRE is to find your happy medium.  For example, you absolutely should increase your savings rate incrementally every year if you can afford to do so, but initially choose an amount that’s attainable.  To help you get started, these are the questions we encourage clients to consider:

1) What is your current cash flow?

Do you have a firm grasp on how much you spend on monthly groceries?  Going out to eat? Gifts at the holidays for friends and family?  The key here is to consider all expenses, not just big-ticket fixed items like your car payment or mortgage.  Once you have an idea of how much you are spending compared to household income, you can then evaluate your current savings rate.

2) Where can you cut back to increase your savings rate?

Can you meal prep on Sundays to avoid going out for lunch during the week?  Can you stay in to watch a movie instead of going to a theater for date night?  Are you willing to have a “no-spend” week?  Some people use tracking software (our firm provides EMoney to our clients) to help set up electronic budgets to alert you when you are close to going over set categories of spending. Alternatively, can you bring in additional income via a side hustle?  Can you work additional hours at work to qualify for overtime pay?  Make an honest assessment to determine where you could potentially improve your cash flow on a monthly basis.

3) Are you debt-free, or leveraging debt appropriately?

A mortgage with a low-interest rate is an appropriate means of financing a lifestyle you want, while potentially building equity via real estate.  If you still have student loans or credit card debt, though, your increased cash flow should go towards paying this off ASAP. Just make sure you have 3-6 months of living expenses built up in an easily accessible emergency savings account as well.

4) Outside of your emergency savings, are your accounts keeping pace with inflation?

Historically, inflation rates average around 3% annually.  This means that your purchasing power decreases, as the cost of goods increases over time. Remember when you could buy a Coke bottle out of a vending machine for a dollar? Your parents or grandparents may even recall purchasing a soda for a quarter!  That’s inflation at work. If you’re planning to retire early, this means you need to account for inflation over several decades. The best way to maintain your purchasing power is by investing excess savings in the stock and bond markets and taking advantage of compounding interest over time. A Financial Advisor can determine the best investment strategy for you.

5) Are your investments in a diversified portfolio in line with your risk tolerance?

Trying to time the market to buy and sell holdings is incredibly difficult to do.  Diversification via broader index funds and investing consistently (to take advantage of pullbacks) has proven to be a more successful investment plan for most Americans.  The concern with the FIRE movement is knowing how risky you can or should be with your asset allocation depending on your time horizon to retirement.  For example, if you are closer to reaching your retirement goal, you don’t want 100% of your assets invested in the stock market.   A comprehensive financial planner can help determine how much risk you should be taking on by looking at your finances holistically, and ensuring portfolios are rebalanced regularly according to your needs.

The road to early retirement is still a long one, so you’ll need to regularly evaluate your progress, reassess as needed, and don’t forget to acknowledge small victories!

Our advice is to push yourself to save more, without going to the extremes of the FIRE lifestyle.  If you would like additional accountability, Trilogy offers progress checks through our Decision Coach process more frequently than annual reviews.  And if you need a road map to help find your path to success, reach out with any questions here.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional.

By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
August 13, 2018

Money can be a complex thing. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the stock market or the emergence of cryptocurrencies. I’m talking about how every financial decision you make affects all the others. It sounds like a simple enough theory, but when it comes time to putting it into action, it’s often difficult to see through.

I see many clients who come in clearly stating their goals: they want to retire, they want to start their own business or pay for the children’s college education. They want to be financially independent. Yet, when we look at what they’re doing with their finances, we find that their actions may be working against their goals. That daily Starbucks habit has a different cost when you calculate how much you’ve spent in a given month that could have been used towards other expenses. For those who are constantly leasing new vehicles, those payments that never end take on a different perspective when you consider how they could have been applied to a down payment for a house.

We see it now with millennials struggling under immense student loan debt. While much of their income is funneled towards basic needs and paying down debt, little is left for necessary things like amassing an emergency fund and saving for retirement, let alone other milestones like purchasing a home. Putting off funding these other items can have a serious detrimental effect down the road. Furthermore, while millennials have grown to be the largest generations purchasing homes1, this major decision has prompted additional complications like borrowing from retirement to afford a down payment or underestimating ongoing maintenance cost. In fact, based on a survey by Bank of the West, 68 percent of millennial homeowners now have regrets about buying their home2 because every decision made truly impacted everything else.

Things can get especially tricky when decisions are being made by more than one person. Couples can have household goals, but if they’re not united in working towards them, these goals can often get sidelined. Perhaps they’re trying to save for a house, but one of them isn’t sticking to their plan. Maybe they’ve been diligently saving for retirement when one wants to take a major withdrawal to start their own business. Sometimes it can be as simple as not even bothering to discuss the household’s financial goals. Very often, if you’re not working together, you’re working against one another.

Please understand, I’m all for enjoying your hard-earned money. Sometimes, though, difficult choices have to be made. Perhaps it’s deciding to put off that trip with friends to pay off your credit card, or eating out less to build up your emergency fund. I remember being in that predicament when my family first moved into our home – we lived without furniture in two of the rooms! You see, the key to your personal financial success isn’t typically making more money. It’s really about being aware of your financial behavior and of how your daily financial decisions impact your long-term fiscal future.

1. https://www.housingwire.com/articles/42748-millennials-lead-all-other-generations-in-buying-homes

2. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/18/most-millennials-regret-buying-home.html

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