Each year, millions of Americans begin the New Year by making resolutions they never intend or are unable to keep. I don’t typically involve myself in such things, but my friends here at TraderPlanet asked me to make such a contribution for their year-end article line-up. So based on the list of the most popular resolutions from usa.gov (the U.S. government’s official web portal), here are my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution 1: Get a Better Education
Knowledge is power and information is the fuel that generates it. This is especially true when it comes to investing. While I don’t fool myself into believing we have access to better or even substantially different information than millions of other investors around the globe, we do utilize the best research sources available. We use this information to develop, implement and manage comprehensive financial plans that help ensure the long-term financial success of our clients.
Perhaps more importantly, we distill this complex research into easily understandable print and video communication pieces to educate our clients on topics and issues related to financial planning. It’s been our experience that keeping clients up-to-speed on what is happening in the global economy and with their personal financial plans gives them piece of mind. To paraphrase Sy Simms, An educated consumer is our best client.
Resolution 2: Manage Stress
One of the most important things we can do as a firm is to create an atmosphere in which our clients enjoy a good night’s sleep. What do I mean by that? Simple. First we acknowledge the fact that most investment-related stress is caused by uncertainty and volatility; then we develop a remedy to alleviate these symptoms.
The “cure” can be found in a globally allocated portfolio diversified across geographic locations, asset classes, sectors and individual securities. Such a portfolio helps us manage risk more effectively, smooth out volatility and generally do well by our clients in all market environments.
Resolution 3: Save Money
Financial planning costs (including investment management), taxes and tax preparation, trading fees and fund expense ratios can add up quickly and eat into investment returns. Because of this, we work very hard to price our services to provide the most value to our clients. We also conduct year-round strategic tax planning to limit—to the greatest extent possible—any and all potential tax liability. Finally, we use low- or no-cost ETFs almost exclusively in our portfolio construction.
Strictly speaking, these resolutions are not a promise to make changes to our client service processes or our financial planning and investment philosophy. Rather, they are a pledge to our clients that we will continue to do all these things and more to help them become better educated, lower their stress levels and save money in 2014.
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David L. Blain, CFA, is president and chief investment officer of BlueSky Wealth Advisors, LLC, an independent registered investment advisor (RIA) doing business as D. L. Blain & Co. in New Bern, North Carolina and Pleasanton Financial Advisors in Pleasanton, California. E-mail David here.