It is hard to believe that almost 20 years ago I started at, what was then HBK Sorce Financial, as an intern working in the basement of an 1800’s-era home. As a sentimental person with my 20th anniversary with our firm and in the industry approaching, I have been reflecting on my career. Twenty years ago, I was finishing college, single, no kids and minimal experience with even my own finances. My knowledge and perspective were based on what I had learned in college, read about from industry experts, and experience passed along by my colleagues and mentors.
As a point of reference, this was 2001, so while most of my mentors had the exuberant investment markets of the 80s and 90s to begin their careers, the first half of my career was in the “lost decade”. That means I had no euphoria of consistent double-digit returns, but rather I began my career with the doom of the S&P 500 Index being flat for approximately 12 years. Those years undeniably taught me the benefits of our investment management process, maintaining a long-term, globally diversified portfolio, which includes exposure to investments that react differently than equities and fixed income and incorporate investments that pay dividends and income. What also became very clear in those 12 years was the crucial importance that financial planning played in whether a client would be successful financially in retirement in more challenging times.
Early in my career, I had the benefit of hearing Dean Piccirillo, one of our founding partners, present how he walks clients through our financial planning process. I remember the elation I felt because the process made such logical sense. Who wouldn’t want to go through a process that shows them where they are now, what areas they may need to change to increase efficiencies and improve their outcomes, and then receive a clearly defined path to meet their goals? Even at that early stage in my career, not having much experience in planning, I knew what an impact this could make on peoples’ lives. Now with 20 years of experience providing financial planning for my clients and delivering solutions as part of that planning, I have witnessed the benefits of creating a plan, reviewing it consistently, and adjusting along the way. At this point I have seen the process work successfully repeatedly, as many of my clients over the last two decades have retired comfortably with peace of mind, helped their children pay for college, and, in some unfortunate situations, had protection for their families from insurance policies we instituted. I undoubtedly attribute that success to the financial planning process. This is not to minimize the credit to my clients who ultimately saw the benefit in the planning process, were open to partnering with me in implementing the recommendations, and were diligent in their savings plans.
Alternatively, I had many conversations with individuals and families that they had to spend less, work longer and/or save more because planning was not introduced to them until the last five years leading to their goal retirement age, or worse, until after they made the decision to retire. Waiting until the last five or ten years may put us in a situation where it may not even be feasible to save the amount needed to achieve a targeted success rate. Ultimately the earlier we start planning the more palatable the recommendation of how much needs to be saved and the better balance you will have in your financial life throughout your working years to enjoy life now.
Over the years, as with most things, financial planning has evolved. Although the concept hasn’t changed, the capabilities of software programs and solutions we can provide have expanded immensely. Where 20 years ago we printed a stagnant report that had to be manually updated; technology has made financial planning a much more interactive process where now we can make changes live and see the results in a matter of seconds. This is a wonderful enhancement as it keeps individuals and families engaged and focused on why they are doing what they are doing and what they are working toward.
Now, married with two little boys of my own, my passion for financial planning has only grown. I understand the dreams of putting children through college and planning for future retirement years. I recognize the relief in having proper insurance in place so my family is protected in the event of an unfortunate incident. I am grateful to see the immense value we add to our clients’ lives in navigating them through the financial planning process and seeing so many of them enjoy their retirement years as a result. I look back on the last 20 years with great fondness for the difference our firm has made in so many lives and for all the people that I have had the privilege to know who have impacted me in many ways.
The information included in this document is for general, informational purposes only. It does not contain any investment advice and does not address any individual facts and circumstances. As such, it cannot be relied on as providing any investment advice. If you would like investment advice regarding your specific facts and circumstances, please contact a qualified financial advisor.
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