Happy Holidays – Lessons from Star Wars

Grandsons Matthew and Henry and I went to the see “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” yesterday.  With Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) having passed away in the morning, it was a surreal experience.  Even so, we all loved it.  This is the eighth Star Wars film, all of which have been commercial blockbusters, amassing combined box office earnings of $7 billion.  But did you know that the Star Wars films have also provided some great financial lessons as well? With thanks to wealthmanagement.com for the idea, here are some of the key ones:

There is tremendous power in holistic planning.  Young Luke Skywalker’s advisor Obi Wan Kenobi (“OWK”) taught him that the Force, an energy field created by all living things that binds the galaxy together, is the source of his power. In the same way, a well-developed holistic financial plan can give you tremendous power to meet your goals.  Of course, once implemented, the plan needs regular monitoring and modifications as conditions and goals change.

Stick to the Plan.  Do you remember when Luke was just a neophyte, learning the ways of the Force,  and the skeptical Han Solo, disregarding the advisors like OWK pushed Luke to be a risk-taker, like him?  After Luke got distracted by Solo’s taunts, OWK reminded him to trust his plan instead of making knee-jerk reactions.  While things got rocky along the way, Luke eventually reached his goal- to become a Jedi Knight.  It’s an important lesson.  You need to stick to your plan, particularly with investments.  Trust in your plan and your allocations and focus on long-term goals.

Quick and Easy Leads to the Dark Side. In the 1980s, the Jedi Master Yoda taught Luke about the Dark Side.  Yoda told Luke that chasing instant gratification, like investing heavily in a hot stock, can lead to ruin.   When Luke ignores the advice, he’s almost defeated by Darth Vader.  Yoda reminds us that patience is a key in investing.  At DWM, we firmly believe that you should adopt an appropriate, diversified asset allocation and stay fully invested.  Don’t try to time the markets or chase performance. Stay disciplined.

Value is the key.  Despite his other issues, Han Solo does understand value.  Luke was shocked when Solo initially disclosed his fees to pilot them across the galaxy in the Millennium Falcon.  Luke said he could buy and pilot his own starship for less, but OWK knew expertise can command a fair price and even offered to spend more to ensure results.   Yes, value is the key.  Expertise and honesty command a fair price and offer the best possibilities of helping you get to your lifetime destinations.

Family is everything. In “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” Solo played the role of advisor to next generation heroes Rey and Finn, but was unable to guide his own son Ben. As a result, Ben disregarded Luke Skywalker’s teachings and sought out the advice of Snoke and converted to the dark side, as the evil Kylo Ren. At DWM, our focus is on families.  We do our best to meet, understand and communicate with everyone, sometimes three or four generations, and, as part of our total wealth management service, provide financial assistance to all family members, regardless of the size of their current investment portfolio.

Use a Fiduciary. Along with Yoda’s warning about the quick, easy and seductive dark side, the heroes of Star Wars are frequently working not just for themselves, but in the best interest of the galaxy. General Leia (no longer a princess) formed the Resistance when the First Order rose to power in the ashes of the Empire. The evil First Order did not support plans made in the best interests of the galaxy.  Finn abandoned the First Order after he was asked to attack innocent villagers and used his knowledge to aid the resistance.  Unfortunately, there are many providers in the financial service industry that are part of the quick, easy and seductive dark side.  Align yourself with advisers who are fiduciaries, legally bound to put your interests first, and who are passionate about adding value and helping you reach your goals.

 May the Force Be With You Always!

Father of the American Christmas Card

It’s that time of year again. Time to get together with family, reconnect with old friends and drink eggnog by the fire. Spending time with those important people in your life is nice any time of the year, but it’s always great around the holidays. However, what is one to do about all those wonderful people if you do not get to see them in person? Enter the Christmas card. Christmas cards have become a staple in most households during the holidays and there is a long history behind their success and popularity.
Have you ever wondered how the Christmas card came to be what it is today? Initially produced in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole of Britain as a way to keep in touch with all of his friends and acquaintances, it wasn’t until 20 years later that they became mass produced in the United States by Louis Prang of Boston, MA. Sir Henry Cole’s original card included images of him feeding and clothing the poor with the words “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” on both sides. He had the same heading of “TO ____,” with the blank spot allowing him to print a different name on each card. Back in the States, the popularity of Louis Prang’s take on the Christmas card grew. Soon people began to collect these and measure how many they received each year. It is for this reason that Louis Prang is considered by many as the “Father of the American Christmas card.”

Christmas cards have indeed grown since their creation in the 1800’s. With 1.6 billion Christmas cards purchased every year, according to the Greeting Card Association, the industry for Christmas cards seems like it may last the test of time. That is, if we don’t all switch over to electronic, emailed cards. However, the ease of electronic greeting cards does not appear to be having a large effect either, as this year Americans will spend on average $30 on Christmas cards, according to a study done by Statista.com. The amount that Americans spend on Christmas cards each year does not even take into account the time and effort that goes into developing the card, and, in some cases, getting the family to stand still long enough to have a picture for your card. However, all the time, effort and money that you put into giving Christmas cards to friends and family is a small price to pay for letting your loved ones know you’re thinking of them during the holiday season.

At DWM we value the importance of family and friends, and we agree that maintaining close relationships is priceless. Connecting with those important people in your life is nice around the holidays, and it’s especially important to us at DWM now and throughout the year. We appreciate keeping in touch with all of you and we wish you a Merry Christmas, a wonderful holiday season, and a happy new year!

Your New DWM Website

A few months before starting my career at DWM, the team decided it was time to change the look of the company. The first step was revamping the logo to have a more modern feel, while still maintaining a strong message. The DWM gears were a perfect fit. The origin of the gears symbolizes the idea of process, which is ideal when you consider DWM’s philosophy: “Wealth management is a process, not a product.”

While the new logo certainly achieved a modern feel, we also needed to update the look of our website. We came together as a team to determine what the old site lacked, and how the new site would improve the overall user experience. I started building out the new site my second week at DWM. Every week the team discussed ways to make it better for clients, prospects, and anyone else who wanted to stop by. Now, almost 8 months later, the new and improved DWM site is finalized and ready for you to visit.

The new site benefits both DWM clients and non-clients in three main ways: simplicity, quick/convenient access, and transparency.

Simplicity. The new site has a very simple layout. We do not try to impress anyone with fancy terminology or complicated charts that may be difficult to understand. The goal is for you, the viewer, to have a stress free experience on our site and easily obtain the information you are looking for. From our home page, one can easily navigate to brochure-like items such as our DWM Total Wealth Management Process (investment management, value-added services, and relationship management), DWM processes and culture, the DWM team, and a link to recent blogs.  Within each tab, we give a brief overview of our philosophy on that particular subject, but do not ramble on for 10+ pages. As much as we love talking about all aspects of wealth management, we recognize you probably did not come to the site to read an entire book. So while the information is detailed, it is still easy to understand and not overwhelming.

Quick/convenient access for clients. Typically, clients visit the DWM website to access either their MGP financial plan, DWM/Orion account (performance) information, or Schwab account information. With that in mind, we did not want you to have to scavenge the site just to access your information. For this reason, we inserted quick links in the header of the site so you can quickly locate your information from any page. To go along with quick access, we made a point to maximize convenience, so, we decided all log in screens should open in a separate tab. This way, if you are reading a blog about market performance and decide to check your account, you will not be navigated away from the site. A new tab will open and you can finish reading after checking your account. Of course, everything is still 100% secure, as DWM takes your personal and account information very seriously.

Transparency. When I first started building out the new site, I was surprised to hear a general rule of thumb is to limit the amount of pictures of the company’s employees. If you visit other sites in the financial industry, you may notice there are a lot of canned pictures of happy couples running on the beach, sunsets, and whatever else distracts you from the idea wealth management is a process that takes a strong team you can trust. So while we are certainly happy at DWM, it is not because we are running along the beach everyday with our hands in the air, but because we enjoy helping you achieve and enjoy your financial freedom.

To go along with transparency, we spent a significant amount of time on the “DWM Team” section of the site. We decided we did not want to only brag about everything we have accomplished and why we are qualified to be your personal fiduciaries, but rather, give you a better idea of who we are as people. Of course, we give background information, but more importantly explain how we got into wealth management, some passions outside of wealth management, our family, interests, and experiences at DWM thus far. This gives the reader the ability to learn more about the individuals on this team and how they mesh with your needs.

We are very excited about the new DWM website and our overall online presence. To go along with the new website, we also have updated our Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter Pages. We are using Twitter to help everyday folks with wealth management by posting blogs and “daily wealth management tips.” Our goal is to help as many people as possible achieve financial freedom and we are thrilled we can utilize social media to do that. So please, check out the new and improved DWM online platforms! Here are the links:

DWM website: http://www.dwmgmt.com/

DWM LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/detterbeck-wealth-management

DWM Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DetterbeckWealthManagement/

DWM Twitter: https://twitter.com/detterbeckwm

Prevent ShareFile From Going to Spam Folder

Help Us Protect You and Your Data:
One of our most valued qualities at DWM is INTEGRITY: to honor the sanctity of respect, truth, and confidentiality in all of our relationships. You trust us with your personal information and we respect that. In today’s internet-fueled, cyber world, it’s easy to move around data, but it must be done in a safe way. To that extent, when we send you confidential information via email we want to ensure that your data remains private. That’s why we use Sharefile.
Sharefile is one of the most utilized and secure options for sharing documents via email. It allows you to encrypt the body of your message to your recipient, along with any attachments, providing all parties with comprehensive data privacy.
Unfortunately, some email providers like AOL, and sometimes Google, view an email utilizing Sharefile differently and it can wind up in your junk/spam folder and become lost, which makes communication between us quite difficult. The reason for emails being flagged as spam is because of the spam filter that is set in place by the email provider. If the spam filter does not recognize the email address it is directed to the spam folder.
The good news is that there is an easy fix. All you need to do is add the following domains to your approved senders list to omit this kind of problem:
@dwmgmt.com
dwmgmt.onmicrosoft.com
If you don’t know exactly how to do this, please see this handy list showing steps for users of AOL, Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.
We take confidentiality of your information very seriously. Please help us help you by adding the domains today. And also, the best way to get us confidential documents is by uploading them to our Sharefile. To do this, simply click  the link below our of our team’s email signartures. For example,
Regards,
Brett M. Detterbeck, CFA, CFP®, AIF®
DWM Financial Group, Inc.
DBA Detterbeck Wealth Management
110 N Brockway, Suite 330
Palatine, IL 60067
P 847.934.6262
F 847.934.5495

Click Here to send me a file securely.

Teach Your Children Well

As parents, we want what is best for our kids and want to prepare them to be independent and successful adults.  Two of my three children are in college now and, from my experience both as a parent and working at DWM, I have learned there are some gaps in the financial education and understanding of money in our young people, including my kids.  Money isn’t everything and certainly should be kept in perspective related to other pursuits in life.  That would be my first tip for the young adults in my life.  However, money is a means to an end and it is important for them to understand their own unique balance sheet and learn strategies to successfully manage all the variables that will affect their financial future.

1. Protect and Grow your Most Valuable Asset – YOU!

One of the most important things for college-age or young working adults to realize is that by far their most valuable asset is themselves!  For a young adult, the ability to generate income for the next 40 or so years is their most phenomenal asset.  Understanding the value of this asset can encourage them to look for ways to magnify that potential earning power and minimize the risks to it. Will additional education improve that income potential?  It is also smart for young people to realize that the future is uncertain.   We need to teach them to prepare for any risks, like economic downturns, that may reduce asset growth or increase their liabilities.  This can help them recognize that using resources to maintain adequate disability or life insurance can be as important as insuring your car or home.  Creating good habits in saving, tax-planning and budgeting are important to protect against unanticipated variables.

2. Diversify your Assets

When evaluating net worth, most people tend to think of some of the obvious current assets that you might include – a house or a car, for example.  Looking more deeply, though, will show some differences in those assets.  This is another area where younger people may need some education.  A car’s value, for example, should be considered against the taxes, maintenance, gas and depreciation that essentially makes it worth much less over time.  Same with a boat.  Real estate is usually considered a good asset to offer diversification, if it is appreciating at or above inflation.   An interesting article from the Wall Street Journal notes that as wealth increases, the percentage of net worth represented by a principal residence declines.  Young adults should understand that diversification is an important strategy and having a good mix of assets will make you financially stronger, especially over the long-term.

3. Spend Wisely

In general, a personal balance sheet should include the value of everything you have and everything you owe, even if some of those are intangible.  When you put the potential value of a career’s worth of income in real dollars in one column against the future costs of loans or other debts, it makes the impact more visible.   This strategy can help spotlight the real costs for student loans, houses, cars, trips, credit cards or luxury purchases.  An Investment News article recently quoted a study that found more than half of college bound students had failed to estimate their student loan costs adequately and regretted the decision to take out those loans, once their repayment programs had begun.  Certainly, when evaluating the merits of an educational program or even a business investment, it would be smart to consider potential income benefits against the costs for that investment.  Weighing the purchase of a new flat screen TV or expensive pair of shoes against the value of income needed to finance that goal might make anyone think twice!

4. Save and Invest Early

Finally, it is significant for young people to know that they can really maximize the potential on their balance sheet by saving and investing as early and as fully as possible.  Learning the value of compounding in real terms can be a wonderful eye-opener and understanding the effect of inflation on a dollar over time can be equally enlightening.  Not all saving is created equal.  A penny saved is worth more than a penny earned, when you factor in taxes and compound interest!  It is important to maximize retirement investments and practice the “pay yourself first” philosophy of saving and investing to create a good financial plan.

Also, young workers should be encouraged to immediately sign up for employer retirement plans, like 401(k)’s, and to maximize their contributions to take advantage of any match programs offered by their employer.  If their job doesn’t offer one, opening an IRA or Roth IRA might be a good solution.  Starting a Roth at a young age allows the investor to take advantage of making after-tax contributions while in a lower tax bracket and creating an account that can grow and offer tax free funds for use later in life.  As an example, a 25 year old who makes the maximum allowable annual contribution of $5,500 annually to an investment vehicle that averages a 5% return could have around $700,000 by the time they are ready to retire.

The biggest lesson that our kids and other young adults should be taught is that the most important key for success in wealth management, as in most things, is discipline.  We love to educate our clients and their families.  Please let us know if we can help teach your kids good financial habits.