Who Doesn’t Need a Financial Planner?

As part of my Brookside networking, I like to profile various business owners and shops that I think deserve extra attention.  Recently I profiled Daren  Teghtmeyer with American Family Insurance, 8043 Wornall. Because this week is Financial Planning week, today I wanted to focus on Financial Security Advisors, a small, locally owned financial planning firm in Prairie Village. They have been in business over fifteen years.

Financial planning…probably sounds tedious and boring to some, exciting and intriguing to others.  I’m in the first category–yes, I need to pay attention to this task, now more than ever.  If you think the same thing–it’s worth it to check out someone who lives finance every day.

Sandi Weaver runs this office with a very personal touch for all of the firm’s clients.  They are a fee-based firm, charging 1% of the client’s portfolio. (The advantage of using a fee-based firm is this: the planners aren’t inclined  to slant their advice in order to get a commission up front or  a back-end fee.  Fee only means the firm gets money from clients only, not from financial institutions or fund companies.) They are a comprehensive planning firm, not just investment management. They will work with you on retirement projections, review your insurance, investments, suggest tax strategies, and help you plan for college costs and prepare for estate planning.  They meet personally with each client twice a year to keep up with your plan and make changes as necessary.  And they are small–five people in the office, all experts in their various fields supporting all of the customers.

I asked Sandi what are some of their big challenges as a firm, especially these past couple of years as the stock market see saws back and forth, up and down.  She remarked  there are more SEC regulations to be aware of, a bit more hand-holding at times for nervous customers.  Overall, though, it’s a challenge to get  clients to cut back on spending and following the plan after they retire.  Savings and investments have to last decades longer than they used to–it’s tempting to start spending from that large chunk of money you’ve saved for years and years–after all, you deserve it, right?  But to make the money last, stay on the budget you’ve set for yourself so that the money pile doesn’t run out too early.  Another challenge is getting people to make the committment to use a financial planner before it’s too late.  Waiting until you are well into your 50s doesn’t leave that much time to invest and save as much as you may need to retire comfortably or start paying college tuition for multiple children.  When you get all your finances and investments in order early on in your career–and create a plan–you will more easily reach your goals.

A recent study of 401K accounts provided evidence that workers who get professional financial help get higher returns on their investments than those handling their own investment choices – by an average of 3%.

Sandi Weaver and her team in Prairie Village

If you are thinking of interviewing financial planners, Sandi offers these tips: Compare firms and find out exactly what you get for their services.  Compare fees–lay out  your investments  and ask, what would your fees be if I hired you?  FInd out how long they have been in business and what are their qualifications and special designations. What is the rate of return? Ask for references.  When you call in with questions, who will you talk to ?  Do you feel comfortable with the person you are speaking with?

Working with a financial planner is something that takes a bit of time…but you will be glad you did it when your investments are professionally handled.  With the economy still shaky, who knows for how long? — it will pay off to know your financial assets are being used to help you reach your goals.  You can find additional resources and tips at www.fpakc.org.

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