In our last post, “Go With the Flow Investing,” we introduced three steps to sensible investing:
A critical part of that first part – planning – includes not only determining where you want to go, but making a solid assessment of where you stand today. After all, if you don’t know the distance between Point A and Point B, it’s going to be hard to equip yourself for the journey.
This may seem like obvious advice. But in my experience, many families do not know exactly what they’re invested in or where all of their assets are held. They also rarely know how their investments have been doing so far, or how to even go about figuring that out.
If you find yourself in similar circumstances, don’t feel too bad. You are certainly not alone; you may even be among the majority of investors!
But do know that it doesn’t have to be this way. When we meet with a family for the first time, we usually begin by sharing information and getting to know one another. If the fit seems right, the next step often includes just such a thorough review, in the form of a deep portfolio analysis:
- Portfolio Performance – How much have you really earned over time, after the costs involved and in the face of the trading decisions you’ve made along the way?
- Risk/Reward – How much market risk are you facing, knowingly or not? Is your risk exposure truly aligned with your need to earn risk-based returns?
- Costs – What are the apparent and less apparent costs you’re incurring? (For holders of individual bonds, this is particularly important, as bond markup costs are especially opaque and often onerous.) Are comparable, quality investments available for less?
- Tax Efficiency – Are your taxable and tax-sheltered assets ideally located for optimal tax efficiency?
- Retirement Benefits – Especially for Federal, military and government contractors, are your specialized benefits being put to best use?
For many investors, our meeting represents the first time they’ve ever received this sort of far-reaching analysis. If a family already is doing well, we will not hesitate to tell them so. If we see room for improvement, we won’t be shy about telling them that either. Either way, it’s much easier to make confident financial decisions when you are in a position to replace gut feel and vague guesswork with solid evidence and organized information.
Mark Shelby is President of Vertical Investments, LLC., a Registered Investment Advisory firm offering fee only financial planning serving Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Mclean, Tysons Corner, Reston and Williamsburg Va. Vertical Investments helps successful individuals and families with comprehensive wealth management needs.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific investment advice tailored to an investor’s unique needs, risk tolerance, and investment objectives. Investing entails risks, including possible loss of principal. There are special risk considerations associated with value strategy investing, international investing (including emerging markets), and small company investing. Consider the investment objectives, risks, and expenses of any mutual fund carefully before investing. This information does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Vertical Investments is an investment advisor registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that stated results will be replicated.
Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.