“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.” – Henry Rollins
Our experience serving over 150 different clients at several leading Financial Planning firms has taught us that true fulfillment will never be measured in dollar signs. Money and financial success are helpful to create opportunity in the present and security for the future, but are merely tools to help achieve life goals. Knowing what is most important and making decisions to follow life’s passions results in the greatest satisfaction.
These experiences have afforded us a unique perspective and a refreshing approach to Financial Planning: We trust you to be the expert in your life. We just use our expertise to help leverage your resources to help you become what you want. Knowing that authenticity is the anchor for every discussion, analysis, and recommendation, you will have confidence necessary to evaluate trade-offs and become the decision-architect for your life.
We do not try to pressure you and we do not have products to sell to you – instead we work to understand who you are, what drives you, where you want to be, and help you determine which of our services will help you get what you want out of life. From those with very little understanding of finances to individuals who know what to do but would prefer to outsource the time and energy of planning, we work with you to craft a customized plan that will help clear your path to progress.
This is far from the stereotypical ‘Wizard of Oz’ approach where clients are left in the dark while someone positions themselves as an authority figure and pulls some strings and levers behind a curtain. Instead, our client relationships are purely collaborative. We understand that you are a hardworking, busy professional and are investing your resources (time, money, energy, skills, etc.) across various realms of your life (family, work, health, community, leisure, personal growth, education, spirituality, etc.). Based on how you prefer to use your resources in pursuit of your fullest life, we have a conversation around which of our resources (time, skills, knowledge, etc.) you would like to leverage. There is no selling involved and we do not coerce our clients into paying for services they do not want or need.
“ What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.” – Henry David Thoreau
We believe the Financial Planning profession’s reason for existing is to help clients journey through life with a sense of abundance and subjective well-being, the essence of true Wealth. To serve in this capacity, it is important to consider how individuals explore life and pursue goals – a concept psychologists refer to as motivational theory. For illustrative purposes, consider a popular example – Maslow’s extended hierarchy of needs. Our basic needs as human beings are also called deficiency needs because when they are not met, we become stressed out, anxious, and short-sighted – preventing us from acting as our ideal-selves in that instance.
Since these efforts often provide instant gratification toward filling a need, they are also classified as coping behaviors and are generally not long-term solutions for fulfillment. As a need is fulfilled, the mental bandwidth and willpower becomes available to focus on and pursue other areas of life that are also important.
The higher level growth needs can be tricky to pursue because the gratification afforded is generally not as intense or instantaneous, but filling these needs provides satisfaction and fulfillment that brings about true Wealth.
As we have all experienced, the unfortunate reality is that our vision for progress is often disrupted by life’s events, making it difficult to keep basic needs consistently met. Unanticipated life experiences – injury and sickness, loss of a job, vehicle or home repairs, relocation, divorce, etc. – all impact an individual’s position along the hierarchy, because new needs are presented as life events unfold. Our approach to Financial Planning offers a framework through which individuals can navigate life by limiting the feeling of scarcity brought about by events outside of our control. Thus, creating the space to anchor to an abundance mentality and a sense of overall well-being.
Scarcity mentality creates a drag, like a tax, on mental bandwidth and willpower. Psychologists have observed that if the mind is hyper-focused on one need, the awareness, self-control, and long-term planning necessary to fulfill other needs is not sufficiently available. While the effects of physical scarcity (food, water, sleep) can be limited to the specific areas they touch, a scarcity mindset bleeds into all areas of life, prioritizing the allocation of resources toward satisfying short-term needs at the expense of the future. This means repetitively filling cracks in a foundation instead of building upon previous efforts.
Mirroring the deficiency needs and growth needs of Maslow’s theory of motivation, our approach to Financial Planning offers a framework divided into the realms of Resilience and Stewardship.
We refer to the focus on Resilience as Financial Hygiene – ensuring there are no chinks in an individual’s armor and that there is a quality foundations from which to build the rest of their life. While there is no expectation to anticipate every life event, taking deliberate actions to mitigate risk or the severity of the impact to an individual’s life trajectory is essential to move up the hierarchy.
If Resilience is focused on maintaining the foundation, Stewardship is embodied by an authentic prioritization of resources in pursuit of preferred futures. As previously mentioned, resources include things like skills, know-how, time, effort, and money – all of which can be leveraged in pursuit of the higher level needs. The nuance, and our favorite part about Financial Planning, is building relationships with individuals to learn more about their unique growth needs and vision for their lives. This enables us to understand more deeply how a client wants to utilize their resources. We can then help evaluate trade-offs and offer clarity on the steps necessary to build from the foundation they worked so hard to create. Simply put, financial planning is a lens through which an individual’s needs and goals can be evaluated in terms of resources required. Clients can then make an authentic and informed decision on how they would like to use their resources in pursuit of subjective well-being.
“It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The spectrum of available choices has exploded in this age of information overload, as has the velocity of change. What information is relevant to our personal mission and how can we sift through the noise and distracting options to work toward an authentic vision?
Planning how to work towards a goal that may not be realized for years (or decades) can be difficult. Especially when the life transitions that shape a young professional’s trajectory, and life events that will influence who they become, may have not happened yet. Because of this, navigating the seemingly infinite array of choices, deciding on a preferred future, and then maintaining a disciplined approach can be overwhelming.
We believe the best way to pursue a preferred future is achieved by establishing Stewardship Policies to guide clients through the decisions they’ll make. We collaborate with our clients to help them develop Personalized Stewardship Policies which serve as simple ‘decision rules’. These ‘decision rules’ can be thought of as personalized system for allocating resources in a way that is easy to follow, even as new opportunities and choices present themselves. Knowing that Stewardship Policies were crafted with their best-self as the foundation, clients can move forward confidently in an ever-changing world as they have already cleared the path to action.
These policies remove the need for deliberation and create shortcuts for decisions that fit the stated goal – our clients know the policy they built is consistent with their long-term vision while also not compromising their present needs. There is no longer a need to evaluate the pros and cons of every choice as our clients already have clear guidance for the path forward, knowing it aligns with their objectives and freeing them from worry about regret, allowing them to fully enjoy the choice they made.