By Mike Gertsema, Senior Wealth Advisor
I see all the same marketing and advertising that you see from investment firms saying how they “offer something different” compared to other investment firms. Their slogans have been well-researched and sound great, but they’re missing a very important point in my opinion: it’s not all about the investments. It’s about your plan, your goals, your income tax bracket, your asset allocation, your asset location, your risk tolerance, and advice.
The question is whether it’s the right investment for your plan or a suitable investment for what they’re selling. Suitability is an industry-standard, but without a financial plan looking all the different options available, it’s very difficult to make a good decision on any investment. One size does not fit all buyers because we are all unique.
The financial services industry also promotes online trading and promotes a positive experience of buying stock and implying a profitable trade. Again, the commercial looks great and I’ve never seen a commercial showing a consumer losing money when the market drops, or the emotions associated with it.
Technology Is a Game Changer
Without question, I think that technology has been a major game changer in the financial industry, helping consumers get more educated and informed with all their financial options available for investing and comprehensive financial planning.
The question is how much time we have available and whether we have the desire to keep updated on all the changes happening in the economy, tax legislation, and changes in your investment portfolios – not to mention the stress and anxiety associated with the risk and responsibility of making all the decisions with your financial future without some level of advice.
So, while there is no shortage of information with technology, there is a shortage of personalized and understandable advice tailored to individual needs.
Financial Planning for All Aspects of Your Life
Gertsema Wealth advisors are unabashedly proud to be all about financial planning, which means all aspects of your financial life including investments. We’ve built a culture of like-minded individuals that are all focused on planning first, so we can give the best possible advice to all our clients.
We are fiduciaries that are not paid commissions for selling investments, which is not the industry norm. A fiduciary has a duty to their clients which means they have a fundamental obligation to provide investments and advice that always acts in their clients’ best interests, not theirs or the company’s.
Our practice has grown exponentially for the simple reason that people are starving for advice and are very weary of the sales approach that may be used by some in the brokerage firms, independent firms, insurance companies, and banks. We are not a practice of salespeople; we’re building a culture of like-minded individuals with professional designations to offer knowledge and give advice.
A professional designation in financial planning demonstrates to industry and clients that the person achieved a particular standard of knowledge in their field of work.
The various designations that you will see within GWA is:
AIF® Designation is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, which is a designation and a professional certification that demonstrates an advisor or other person serving as an investment fiduciary has met certain requirements to earn and maintain the credential. It certifies that a professional works by the fiduciary standard.
RICP® Designation is a Retirement Income Certified Professional, which is a designation and a professional certification that demonstrates having more ability to serve senior clients as a retirement financial planner. These advisors have a broader perspective of the field and can give specific advice about retirement income planning and strategy.
ChFC® Designation is Chartered Financial Consultant which is the “Advanced Financial Planning” designation awarded by The American College of Financial Planning. This designation demonstrates the qualification to provide comprehensive advanced financial planning for individuals, professionals, and small business owners.
CFP® Designation is a Certified Financial Planner which is a formal recognition of knowledge in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, education planning and retirement planning. It is owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. The designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial exams, then continue ongoing annual education programs to sustain their skills and certification, including the CFP Board-approved ethics courses.
CPA® Designation is a Certified Public Accountant, which is a designation and a professional certification for individuals that provides a wide variety of financial services to individuals, businesses, organizations, and government agencies. CPAs not only offer advice on tax strategy and investing, but they are also experts in auditing records and processes, analyzing data, and conducting fraud investigations.
The Power of Education and Experience
I think the financial services is a profession that colleges and universities acknowledge by offering degrees in financial planning. If you think about it, it’s long overdue because the industry is filled with salespeople, and it needs to be replaced with professionals trained to give advice.
Each designation earned by the financial advisor demonstrates that the advisor is very serious about their career in the financial planning industry. Between technology and education, the industry is going to be much better than it’s ever been.
If you’re working with an advisor that is offering investments and not financial planning, or if they have no professional designations demonstrating that the person achieved a particular standard of knowledge in their field of work, you need to get a second opinion to see what you’re missing.
We are aware of the different marketing slogans, please keep in mind if you’re not getting comprehensive financial planning advice with your investments, you’re not getting what you deserve. Getting advice with your specific plan, your goals, your income tax bracket, your asset allocation, your asset location, your risk tolerance, and your investment management is what you deserve and it’s probably the same price that you’re paying for investments alone.
If you’d like to learn more about Gertsema Wealth Advisors and our services, schedule a conversation or call 816-259-5060,