You can breathe a little easier when you feel financially secure. A study in 2022 revealed that nearly two-thirds (66%) of Americans feel anxious about their financial future, and rightfully so. The current inflation has changed how everyone spends and saves money. When retirement comes, you should be able to relax, travel, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Partnering with a financial advisor helps you feel secure about being on the right path to retirement.
JL Smith can provide you with the comfort you need to enjoy your income and savings how you see fit. We help individuals and families feel empowered and confident about meeting their financial goals or prepared to tackle life's unexpected circumstances. We are trusted advisors based out of Ohio that provide our clients customized solutions for all their financial planning needs, including:
- Tax planning & preparation
- Social Security strategies
- Estate planning
We’ve pulled together some frequently asked financial planning questions to provide clarity on your financial journey with us.
Is a Financial Advisor a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a "trust" (person or company) that is legally obligated to base their financial advice on what is ultimately best for their client. Though it may seem hard to believe, not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. Some advisors choose to not become fiduciaries, meaning they are legally allowed to offer advice that directly benefits them over their clients. In other words, they can suggest you make choices with your money that ultimately may not serve you.
The role of a fiduciary includes being transparent about current or potential conflicts of interest and making all details of potential transactions abundantly clear. The responsibilities of a fiduciary advisor also include:
- Ensuring that all investment advice is sound, accurate, and thorough for the individual and their beneficiaries.
- Advising clients in a way that aligns with their goals and objectives.
- Diversifying plan investments in stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives to mitigate risk.
When looking for an advisor, make sure they have taken the necessary steps to become a fiduciaries. Like the advisors at JL Smith, fiduciary advisors are lawfully accountable for ensuring they keep their clients' best interests at heart while managing their money and assets.
How Are Financial Advisors Paid?
There are various fee structures that coincide with paying a financial advisor. We work with each client to set up a payment plan that works best for them. Financial advisor fees can include:
- Fixed fees: A pre-determined and agreed-upon cost for a given project
- Hourly fees: An advisor charges a client an hourly rate for specific services
- Assessment under management: An annual payment plan set as a percentage of the investments managed for a particular client
- Commissions: An advisor receives a commission from annuities, mutual funds, insurance, and other standard financial products
Does a Financial Advisor Protect Clients Against Market Volatility?
Most people know that placing their money into the right stocks increases their earning potential. However, if you don't understand how the market works you run the risk of making ill-informed choices. Financial advisors go through years of schooling and receive several certifications to ensure they're specialists in understanding and navigating the financial market.
When looking for a financial advisor, ask them what their investment philosophy looks like. The market is constantly changing, which is why you want an advisor that has a plan and knows what they are doing. At JL Smith, we use the Bucket Plan® Philosophy to meet our client’s desired time horizon, volatility tolerance, and income needs.
Why is Financial Planning Important?
A study conducted by North Western Mutual in 2021 showed that 26% of Americans claimed that a financial advisor is their most-trusted source for financial counsel.
The benefits of partnering with a financial advisor to meet your goals include:
A financial advisor's second set of eyes provides an objective opinion of investment opportunities. Being objective is hard when you are close and deeply involved with reaching a goal. Also, everyday distractions and expenses can throw you off course. A financial specialist helps you see the big picture.
Tax Planning Services
An issue common for anyone trying to save for retirement is taxation. A higher tax bracket means more deductions. In some cases, you want to pay taxes before you invest so that you can withdraw tax-free money when you retire. In other cases, it makes sense to defer tax payments to build your nest egg quickly. A certified financial advisor will guide you in the right direction and advise you about donations, tax deductions, and exemptions.
A Holistic Financial Planning Approach
A holistic financial approach looks at the entirety of your economic life based on your lifestyle, goals, and values. You might not be interested in investing in stocks, but you might be working towards goals such as saving money for your kids or grandkids to attend college, or you might want to ensure that you pay off your house in a few years.
Estate Planning Services
Estate planning matters when it's time to write your will set up a trust fund, and ensure your family doesn't have any financial burdens if something happens to you. It's not a service that every financial advisory firm provides for its clients because it's such an intricate process that it could stand alone. However, some advisors like us here at JL Smith offer estate planning because we believe a comprehensive, holistic financial approach is the only way to ensure your family's financial well-being is secure.
What Situations Call for Financial Planning Services?
Financial planning services can benefit anyone. There are various situations that would call for partnering with a financial advisor. A few of these scenarios include if:
- Retirement is in your near future, and you want to ensure you're on track.
- You recently inherited money from a relative and need advice on best investment practices.
- Your parents are becoming older, and you want to ensure that all their financial affairs are in order.
- You recently had a child and want to do all you can financially to provide for them.
- You don't feel comfortable with financial planning and need professional help to ensure you don't make bad decisions.
- You love investing, but you want a second opinion on your portfolio.
- If you're questioning if your employer-provided life insurance provides enough coverage or has any tax benefits
- If you want a long-term care plan that covers costs for home and nursing home care costs
When Should I Hire a Financial Advisor?
It's never the wrong time to plan for your future. Financial advisors provide a broad array of financial services that offer value today and for an entire lifetime. JL Smith’s advisors are client-centric, which means we pride ourselves on giving our clients our undivided attention, listening to their needs, and customizing financial strategies based on your most pressing concerns.
Got any other financial planning questions? Contact us if you want to learn more about estate, insurance, and tax planning services and the best investment strategies.