Recent, sweeping tax reform. Uncertainty about the U.S. Department of Labor’s recently enacted—(Or was it?)—Fiduciary Rule. The current turbulence defining the stock market, and ever-evolving capabilities of automation.
4Thought Financial Group is a level-fee fiduciary Registered Investment Advisor providing coordinated wealth management and financial planning services, involving four different areas: Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Fringe Benefits Planning, and Business Succession Planning. 4Thought Financial Group specializes in utilizing a unique strategic approach to achieve clients' financial goals, leveraging multi-method investing, technology-driven quantitative analysis, and traditional financial planning services to redefine the traditional investing model.
4Thought Financial Group's executive team, Chief Investment Officer Jesse Mackey, Chief Executive Officer Brian Mackey, and Chief Financial Officer Martin Levine, outline the firm's unique wealth management and investment methodology, and other characteristics that set it apart from the rest of the pack, in this introductory video, with a transcription provided below.
With tax season squarely in the rearview but for any lingering questions still circulating among clients regarding the recent federal tax overhaul’s exact ramifications on returns next year, now is the perfect time for CPAs to take stock of such concerns and inquiries, and assess their own individual places within the greater trajectory of the financial industry, overall.
A tax professional can act similarly to a “conductor” in an orchestra. They direct the tune, the instruments used and how the end product sounds. They can make the appropriate changes as they see fit and understand how powerful their actions are in making the show.
Longevity has always been a human fascination, but advancements in medicine and technology have transformed this fascination into a present-day reality.
Insurance agents sell life, disability, long term care, property and casualty, and other types of insurance products. They customize related plans and programs to cover a variety of risks that best suit clients’ needs. They weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these policies and promote the associated sales—oftentimes compensated via commissions based on those policies’ premiums.
Accountants primarily examine and prepare financial records, ensuring the accuracy and timely preparation and submission of tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They review the financial operations of businesses and fiscal matters of individuals, and assist in creating plans to improve efficiencies. Many accountants earn Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licenses from their respective state board of accountancy—a distinction denoting extensive education, experience and competency within the profession.
Estate Attorneys, as their titles indicate, specialize in estate planning issues, such as, for instance, estate taxes and the effective distribution of assets to heirs. They provide advice to clients on strategies about how to best prepare for the possibilities of mental illness or incapacitation, and eventually, death. Advice on Wills, trusts, estate tax minimization, business succession, and strategies to ensure clients’ assets and savings are secure following their deaths are typical elements of such services. Estate attorneys can provide further legal advice regarding these areas, and also prepare related legal documents.
Stockbrokers, as aforementioned, may sometimes refer to themselves as “financial planners” or “investment advisors,” but in fact are more accurately described as salespeople employed by brokerage firms (“broker-dealers”), who sell stocks, mutual funds, and other securities on a commission basis. Thus, the more products sold or transactions made, the more they benefit—and while professionals in this area are heavily regulated and are most often quite scrupulous, there is an inherent conflict of interests and an incentive structure here that could result in sales that may not necessarily be aligned with clients’ financial objectives.
Investment advisors are typically focused on the management of client investment portfolios and planning issues directly related to the securities and accounts being managed for the client. Such advisors typically collect a fee for ongoing management of the securities portfolio based on an annual percentage of assets under management. Their firms are regulated by either the states or the SEC (depending on whether they are federal or state registered) as Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs). While such investing arrangements tend to provide a much better alignment of the goals of the investor with the incentives of the advisor than a traditional stock broker’s compensation, if the associated fees are too high, they may provide a significant drag on returns in the long term (if not kept in check). In addition, compensation solely by this means is likely to lead to an over-focus on investing and a neglect of other financial planning issues.
Financial Planner or Wealth Manager
Financial Planners and Wealth Managers who are compensated based on either a fixed fee, retainer fee, or hourly rate fee have perhaps the most optimal incentive structure to provide the broad, comprehensive, concept-based solutions needed for fully coordinated multi-disciplinary financial planning and wealth management. Such professionals are free to think from the multiple perspectives of Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Business Succession Planning, and Fringe Benefits Planning, and may focus their energies on crafting and developing purely concept-based (as opposed to product-based) strategies to help clients achieve their short- and long-term goals. Like investment advisors, their firms are also regulated as Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs), and as such they are both required to act as fiduciaries with clients’ best interests in mind, and may be monetarily incentivized to do so (depending on their exact fee structure).
Whether you're saving for something important or simply trying to cut down on unnecessary spending, a personal finance plan can help you achieve your goals. It allows you to see where your money goes and find ways to make it work harder for you. Here are some tips for making a personal financial plan for yourself or your family.
Comprehensive Financial Planning – quite the austere topic. It sounds like a serious examination, or something painful. Comprehensive Financial Planning is a phrase your Investment or Financial Advisor may have thrown around at some point, or perhaps something you were told to think about. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It is a fancy way of saying, “Let’s go over your current finances and find out what areas we can help you improve on.” With that said, let’s break it down.
Whether you're young or young at heart, it's never too early, or too late, to get your financial house in order. If you're not particularly educated about the intricacies of financial management, taking those first money-management steps can be daunting. Where should you go for accurate financial guidance you can trust? Here are some great sources to get you started.