Hurricane Matthew

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Hurricane Matthew was a scary time for DWM as it approached the US. For one, we know how devastating natural disasters can be to people’s lives, businesses, homes, and general well-being. Secondly, Matthew could potentially have directly affected our DWM family as it was expected to first touch the US in South Carolina, where half of our team and many DWM clients are located. It was an unsettling experience as our Charleston team/clients, along with much of the southeast coast, were instructed to evacuate to safety.

As Hurricane Matthew first formed as a category 5 hurricane and started its approach toward the US, analysts from JP Morgan projected it to be the second most costly US hurricane on record for insurers, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To earn this devastating title, Matthew would need to reach a total of $25 billion in insured losses. While still devastating, the most recent projections from CoreLogic (a real estate data provider) estimated around $10 billion in total losses, making insured losses between $4-6 billion. If these totals are confirmed, it would make Hurricane Matthew the 22nd most devastating storm since WWII, according to a recent estimate by Goldman Sachs. By the time Matthew made landfall in the US near McClellanville, South Carolina, it was reduced to a category 1 hurricane.

Even with Hurricane Matthew having inflicted significantly less damage than originally projected, Goldman Sachs still estimates it may cost about 5,000 US jobs in October. When storms like Matthew hit, jobs in the restaurant, hotel, and education sectors normally suffer the most. For example, 30,000 jobs were lost in those sectors when Hurricane Sandy struck, however, 40,000 jobs rebounded (mainly in construction) during the rebuild of the 2012 catastrophe.

While businesses almost always suffer and sometimes risk closing their doors when catastrophes like Matthew strike, homeowners can typically expect a higher burden. “These days homeowners who live close to the coast tend to opt for a 5% deductible on the hurricane wind damage portion of their policy,” said Bob Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. Meaning: a homeowner, whose $500,000 house was fully destroyed, would have the obligation to pay $25,000 of repair costs before the insurance company covers the remaining $475,000.

While it is good news Matthew did not strike the East Coast with the force we originally expected, that reinsurers will likely be able to cover all insured losses, and that only .003% of all jobs in the US will be affected; it all pales in comparison to the 34 lives that were lost in the US and over 1,000 lost in Haiti. DWM’s thoughts and prayers go out to all families affected during this awful natural disaster.

P.S. Our new Charleston office at Church and Broad streets came through unscathed with no damage.  And, Les, Ginny Wilson, and our newest team member, Grant Maddox, and their families evacuated and all were safe and dry.  Grant, by the way, is a recent College of Charleston graduate in finance who has had some very interesting internships.  These included a stint as deputy finance chairman for the successful campaign of Charleston’s current mayor, John Tecklenberg.  Please join us in welcoming Grant to the DWM team.

REMINDER: Markets Don’t Go Straight Up!

Most equity markets were down 3% today, and most equity are markets down 5% this week! It’s the worst week for the Dow since 2011! The Dow is now in correction territory. What’s going on???

It’s been an unusual year. January and February were quite good. But not much has happened since then until this week’s market sell-off.

China’s apparent slow-down seems to be the main catalyst to what triggered this week’s ugliness, but we continue to have the uncertainty as to when the Fed will raise rates, if/when Greece will leave the Euro, and mixed second quarter earnings reports and economic news.

It is times like these that investors need to remember that markets don’t just go straight up. Markets don’t work that way- they go up and down! Not every calendar year can be an “up” year. As a long-term investor, you not only stay invested, but even may see this as an opportunity to buy more.

There have been over a dozen market pullbacks of 5% or more since March 2009. This is another one! Generally, when the market comes back, it does so quickly. So, it’s a fool’s game to try to time the market and jump in and out of it. No one has a crystal ball. Furthermore, we know that over time that staying invested is your friend. Studies show that just missing a few days of strong returns (which we could very well get next week or later this month), can drastically impact overall performance.

The market constantly over-reacts and then reverts back to the mean. Do not get caught up in emotion and sell and buy at the worst times. Unfortunately, humans are not wired for disciplined investing and usually trade poorly based on fear. They wind up selling at the lower prices (on fear) and buying at the higher prices (on elation) per the graph below.

Emotions

I’m sure many readers are nervous after this latest week with all this uncertainty in the air. However, if you use a wealth manager, like DWM, we can help you focus on what can be controlled:

  • Create an investment plan to fit your needs and risk tolerance
  • Identify an appropriate asset allocation target mix
  • Structure a well-balanced, diversified portfolio
  • Reduce expenses through low turnover and via passive investments where available
  • Minimize taxes by using asset location, tax loss harvesting, etc.
  • Rebalance on a regular basis, taking advantage of market over-reactions by buying at low points of the market cycle and selling at high points
  • Stay Invested

In closing, a pullback / correction like this one might actually be a very healthy thing because it may signify that the underlying assets’ valuation is getting back in line with fundamentals. So don’t get anxious over this latest short-term market volatility. By all means, there is a lot of “noise” this month. We’ve seen “noise” before and we’ll see “noise” again. Instead, remember that, over the long-term, the markets have rewarded discipline, through world events of all types. Check out the graph below, put your mind at ease, and have a great weekend. Let us deal with the “noise” and give us a call if you’re still feeling anxious next week.

Markets Have Rewarded Discipline

Systematic Investing and Dollar Cost Averaging

Systematic investing3You’ve probably heard the investment advice, “Buy low, sell high.” It would be nice if it were that easy, but no one can accurately predict when the market, let alone an individual security, will be at its high or low, making this advice extremely difficult to follow. Instead, many experts recommend staying fully invested, even during market downturns, to increase your chances of investment success. Historically, investors who stay fully invested fare better than their market-timing counterparts, because timing the market is nearly impossible. When an investor pulls assets out of the market in an effort to avoid losses, they will likely also miss some of the higher returning days. By remaining fully invested, you never miss the best performing days.

Many investors who stay invested use the systematic investing method to help achieve dollar cost averaging and meet long-term investment goals. Systematic investing is simply investing a specific amount on a regular basis, such as contributing a certain percentage of your pay to your 401k from each paycheck. When you invest systematically, you add to your investments regardless of market conditions. This is how you achieve dollar cost averaging (“DCA”). When prices are low, you will be able to purchase more shares for your money, and conversely, less shares when the price is higher. Rather than sitting in cash waiting for ideal market conditions, where your money is not working you, invest a set amount automatically and you will end up with an average price over time. If you establish an investment plan involving systematic monthly or semi-monthly investments, it is easier to stay the course when the market goes through rocky periods than it is when you invest without a plan. This helps you to stay committed to your long-term goals and takes the emotion out of investment decisions. The main reason to use DCA is that it reduces the timing risk of investing a large amount of cash at the wrong time.

DCA doesn’t always have to be used in combination with systematic investing. DWM typically employs DCA when a large infusion of cash comes in from a client. Rather than put it all into the market immediately, we may implement the money by investing equal portions over a few month’s time. I.e. 1/3 immediately, 1/3 a month later, and a 1/3 two months later. To limit transaction costs we don’t do this with smaller amounts. We also don’t typically use DCA when we receive a non-cash transfer, i.e. $400,000 worth of securities from an old broker. In this case, the money already has exposure to the market so there’s no reason to DCA back in.

Systematic and DCA investing are smart ways of putting cash to work and putting you on a disciplined, emotion-less investment schedule. If you’d like more information, we’re happy to help!

Is the 4% Withdrawal “Rule” Reliable?

DiceRules of thumb can be great, except when they don’t work. Take the 4% withdrawal rate rule, for example.

This rule, developed twenty years ago, is used to forecast how much people can spend annually in retirement without running out of money. Let’s say a couple has $1,000,000 and has just retired. The rule says if they spend $40,000 (4%) from the portfolio and increase this annual withdrawal by the inflation rate, their $1 million nest egg should last for the rest of their lives.

Historically, an average annual return on a balanced allocation strategy portfolio was roughly 7% from 1970 until 2014, while annual inflation was 4%. Hence, a real return of 3%. The conditions during those four decades are different from today. The decades of the ’80s and ’90s produced average equity returns close to 20% per year. The bond bull market produced returns of almost 9% per year for the last three decades. During this time, the “rule” could have worked fairly well for some people. Today, however, there are a number of problems with this rule.

First, inflation forecasted returns and longevity have changed greatly. Inflation has been negative over the last twelve months and has averaged less than 1% per year over the last three years. Forecasted returns, of course, vary widely and no one can predict the future. A conservative estimate might be a 2% real return (3% nominal less 1% inflation, or 5% nominal less 3% inflation). Longevity is increasing. Hence, for many people, their calculations should be based on an eventual age of 100.

In an article from this past Sunday’s NYT, Professor Wade Pfau at the American College of Financial Services put it this way: “Because interest rates are so low now, while stock markets are also very highly valued, we are in unchartered waters in terms of the conditions at the start of retirement and knowing whether the 4 percent rule can work in those cases.”

Second, the 4% rule never took into account non-linear spending patterns of retirees, other goals, other retirement resources, asset allocation, taxes and stress testing the plan.

There’s a much better way to do this, though it takes more thought and time and a disciplined process. For those who value their financial future, it’s worth the effort. Here are some of the elements that you need consider:

Start with your goals. At what age do you want to achieve financial independence (freedom to retire)? What will be your likely spending patterns during retirement? What will your housing be? What will be your likely health care costs? Are there any other needs, wants or wishes you have for the future?

Retirement resources. The calculation needs to include not only the investment portfolio, but also other income sources, such as social security, pension, rental income or part-time work. The calculation also needs to review all assets, not simply the investment portfolio, and determine the amount, if any, of proceeds from the sale of those assets that could be used in the future to fund goals.

Asset allocation. Varying allocations will likely produce varying results of returns and volatility. The plan should be calculated using the appropriate allocation strategy. Returns should be calculated in two ways- historical and forecasted.

Taxes. Income taxes can have a huge impact on a plan. Allocation of investments into appropriate (taxable, qualified, Roth) accounts can make a real difference. Tax-efficiency throughout the plan is imperative.

Stress Testing. The calculations need to be done using a “stochastic” process such as Monte Carlo simulation rather than a linear one. A Monte Carlo simulation is a tool for estimating probability distributions of potential results by allowing for random variations over time. The world does not operate in a straight line and linear projections can be greatly upset (and therefore of little value) when outliers come into play. In addition, stress testing involves looking at the potential impact of negative factors in the future, including living longer, social security cuts, lower than expected investment returns, and/or large health care costs.

In short, the old 4% withdrawal rule is not a good way to predict whether or not you will fulfill the goals you have for you and your family. However, there is a process that can provide reasonable assurance and one you should expect from your wealth manager, like DWM, as part of their package of services for you. It can be a little complicated but should be customized for your particular situation. It will take some time and effort. It requires discipline and monitoring. However, if you value your financial future, it’s well worth the effort.

Estate Planning – Put Yourself in Charge!

estate plan ducks in a rowTalking about death is uncomfortable and estate planning is one of those topics that no one really likes to discuss. This fall, we were saddened at the passing of three clients and helped their families work through the process of tying up their estates. It reiterated how important these discussions and plans really are. More than half of Americans don’t have wills or any sort of estate plan in place. Estate planning attorneys call this the “do-nothing” approach and the technical term for having no plan when you die is called “intestate”. Basically it means that everything you own, all of your assets that you have accumulated and imagined leaving to your heirs someday, will now be appraised, managed and distributed through the probate court system, not by your family or beneficiaries. As you can imagine, there are tremendous fees and legal costs to this process, requiring probate attorneys for public and lengthy reviews by the court system. In South Carolina, for example, a probate account must remain open for at least 8 months and assets can be frozen while it is sorted out. The process can take well over a year or more to settle the estate.

Aha! So we will just have a Last Will and Testament that spells out all of our wishes, you say. It’s true, a will helps set out the guidelines for how you want your estate to be distributed. However, the will is still administered by the probate court, not your family, and it becomes public upon your death. All of the costs associated with probate will still be there. Probate fees can run as much as 5% of your gross estate value, assessed on the total even before all of your liabilities are paid off! Probate court is not just for estates of the deceased, either. There is a Living Probate, which means your estate can go to probate if you are alive, but become mentally incapacitated. Then the probate court steps in to appoint an agent to control all your personal affairs in a “conservatorship.” This may become more of an issue as people are living longer and we face increased age-related cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

You may also have some of your assets titled in Joint Tenancy, short for Joint Tenancy With Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS). The right of survivorship gives ownership to the last remaining owner. Married spouses will often hold property this way so that their asset will automatically transfer to their spouse or joint owner. However, once both of the spouses or both owners have died, the asset, unless it was retitled earlier, will still have to go through probate. And neither a will nor the Joint Tenancy will prevent a Living Probate if one of the owners becomes incapacitated.

One good way to protect your assets and make sure they are managed and distributed the way you wish is to establish a Revocable Living Trust. Used in conjunction with your will, it controls all your assets while you are alive and after your death. Basically, you title all of your assets to your trust, and, with the trust as owner, you (or you and your spouse or others) are your own trustee(s), which means you control your assets just the same as you do now. IRA’s and 401K’s are treated separately and won’t be titled in the trust. You will then designate a successor trustee to take over and manage everything when you die. But when that happens, the assets are not in your name, they are owned by the trust and so there is no need for probate. The successor trustee immediately steps in as your estate manager and can distribute or manage your assets as you have designated. You can also write instructions of how to manage things should you become incapacitated, avoiding the need for a Living Probate. It is a win-win.

Take some time to look at your current estate plan, titling of all assets and all beneficiary designations. Discuss with your financial advisor, perhaps at Detterbeck Wealth Management, and your estate planning attorney the best way to protect and title them. It can take some work to track down lost stock certificates, deeds or account numbers, but it will be worth it in the time, angst and costs saved by avoiding probate. Your loved ones and beneficiaries will be grateful.

Fast Money: Financial Apps to Make Your Life Easier

look up sqNowadays, wherever you go, it seems half the people around you are looking down at their phones. (That is, if you take the time to look up and notice this phenomenon). In fact, over 90% of the US adult population owns a smart phone. But you can make good use of your screen time because one of the best ways to stay current on your investments is through mobile apps. We would like to spotlight two important (and free) ones today.

App logoDWM: We recently blogged about our Client Portal overhaul. Did you know you can see the same information through our mobile app? You can see all your accounts in one place, check balances and positions, see performance, run reports, view statements, and contact us. It’s available for iPhone/iPad & Android.

(Click on any image to see a full size version)

DWM screen shot valuesDWM screen shot performanceDWM screen shot reports


Schwab app logo

Schwab: In addition to Schwab Alliance, Schwab offers a very useful app. You can see your Schwab accounts, approve wires, electronically sign applications, deposit checks, pay bills, find a branch, and more. Even more exciting capabilities are coming soon. It’s available for iPhone/iPadAndroid, & Kindle. Schwab even has a one page guide that will walk you through set-up. (Again, click on any image to see a full size version)

Schwab screen shot account listSchwab screen shot check depositSchwab screen shot market overview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit card and bank or credit union apps are also handy to have on your devices. Simply search for them in the iTunes Store for Apple users, or the Google Play Store for Android devices.

If you have trouble finding what you’re looking for, AppCrawlr is “the app discovery engine”. This is a great, user friendly site where you can find apps by category or many other criterion, for any device.

Of course, make sure all your devices are password protected so sensitive information isn’t accessible to prying eyes. This is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your identity.

Lastly, for our clients, you are welcome to bring your tablets and smart phones to our meetings. We would like to make sure you are able to login and answer any questions you might have.

DWM’s Client Portal Overhaul

We are pleased to announce a major overhaul to the Client Portfolio Management side of our website, powered by Orion Advisor Services, a third party that is a leader in portfolio management reporting for the Registered Investment Advisor industry. This is where DWM clients can access their personal portfolio information (such as portfolio details, transaction activity, and portfolio performance) on a secure site. (The MoneyGuidePro planning side is unchanged).

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The Client Portal site is now more user-friendly and intuitive. You’ll land on the overview page when you first log in. From there, you can easily navigate into the pages specifically devoted to PERFORMANCE, HOLDINGS, & ACTIVITY. And you can easily switch from viewing from the household level or at the account level just by clicking on one of your accounts. (Click on the picture below for a larger view).

Demo Client screen shot

You can still run the classic PDF style reports. Just go to DOCUMENTS tab, then REPORTS, and click on your desired report. This will be of particular interest for those clients with illiquid securities that are shown “below-the-line” as the OVERVIEW LANDING PAGE does not support those and thus won’t show them there. Quarterly statements and invoices are also found within this same area.

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We know you’ll love the new look and feel of the site. But to get it, you need to visit www.dwmgmt.com or click on the following link: https://login.orionadvisor.com/login.html?g=53C76474-50BC-40CB-AA14-6B9E56B04DDA

Also, be sure to look for the DWM Mobile app on iTunes or the Android App store!

For our clients, we will review this exciting new Client Portal at our next meeting with you to make sure you are able to login and to answer any questions you may have.

Please note that userids and logins will timeout after 181 days of no activity. We recognize that this can be frustrating, however, because of the confidential nature of the information, Orion has put this safeguard in place for your protection.

Clash of the Financial Pundits

financial pundits“There was never a century nor a country that was short of experts who knew the Deity’s mind and were willing to reveal it.” – Mark Twain.

These days there is more information coming out of the financial media than ever before. In their recent book, “Clash of the Financial Pundits”, Joshua Brown and Jeff Macke express it as “Each day, investors are barraged with more advice, regardless of the batch delivered the day before. Each week the lights are flashing brighter and the volume is growing louder. Each passing year brings more confusion, not less- more opportunities to be lead astray.”

CNBC, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance are all in the business of getting people to watch, not just inform. Readers are the key for the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger’s and other publications. And, then you have the investment newsletters. It’s mostly entertainment, drawing attention and making money- for them.

Definition: “Pundits give opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media.” To become well-known and well-paid, pundits know that certitude is the key: He who comes off as the most sure in his/her opinions will attract the most attention. Research shows that our brains have a natural aversion to uncertainty and have discomfort not knowing what comes next. Many individuals want cocksure experts. It’s no surprise that Ben Stein, a noted financial pundit with an up and down track record, says “I am paid to pontificate.”

Former star pundit James Altucher says there are two ways to become a successful pundit: One is with greed, the other with fear. “If you work with greed, you propose to make people money. Or you work with fear. There are always going to be people who want to be afraid because that’s sort of evolutionary psychology.” Of course, some sales pitches use both fear and greed.

Pundits have been around for centuries. When Robert Harley came up with the idea of the first joint-stock offering in England, the South Sea Company, he knew he needed marketing. He hired a fleet of writers, including Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, for his press releases. Warren Buffet once said, “Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future.” Jeff Macke sees it this way: “What the financial experts seem to have in common is that their biases are almost always on full display. ‘Everyone talks their book’ is a way of saying that if people are offering an opinion, it’s most likely colored by the way they are currently invested in the market. This is human nature.”

In short, financial news is often filler, or worse yet, misleading, and emotional nonsense, with opinions offered as analysis. Furthermore, it is often prediction driven and experience shows us most predictions are worthless. So, what are we to do?

Consider some or all of the following:

  • If you are going to follow the pundits, make them accountable. Diary their claims and follow up using an app such as FollowUpThen.com
  • Focus your TV and written consumption. Create a shortlist of objective individuals who collectively can understand complex financial issues and communicate them, reduce economics to understandable basics, and provide insights and help you understand common mistakes investors make.
  • Consider listening to shows such as “Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio”. Rather than a 15 minute interview of stock picks and predictions, these will be one hour of longer in depth interviews by Barry Ritholtz with key financial people such as Jeff Gundlach of Doubleline, Arthur Levitt, former SEC Chair, and Sheila Bair, FDIC Chair. The first radio/podcast was run on July 12, with nine more to follow.
  • Ask your financial adviser what they do to reduce the “noise” and get more signal in their media consumption. What is their consumption? How do they use that to provide more value to you including education on key topics?
  • Or, pour yourself a beverage and let DWM filter the noise for you. You may have lots of better things to do with your time than to try to keep up with all the financial pundits these days. You can always call DWM if you need anything. That’s why we are here.

Annuities: Buy, Hold, or Surrender?

annuitymapAnnuities are big business: $142 billion sold last year. The hottest ones are deferred income annuities (“DIAs”), an old concept with a tweaked name and sales pitch and lots of new customers. Is an annuity right for you? Sorry, the answer isn’t as simple as the sales pitch.

DIAs were featured in a NYT article on June 6th. Invest now, in a lump sum or periodic payments, in exchange for a guaranteed paycheck for life that starts some years later. Sales man Matthew Grove of New York Life sees it this way, “It’s people realizing that, ‘I can invest in bonds, but I won’t get as much juice. I can buy equities, but I am taking more risk.’ This is kind of right in the middle, where I am driving income, but I am basically doing it with no risk to myself.”

Au contraire, Mr. Grove. Like any investment, annuities come with risk, and often with more risk than a managed investment portfolio.

Here’s an example: a 55 year old man invests $200,000 in a fixed annuity. In 10 years, at age 65, he starts drawing monthly income of $1,750 for life. Actuarial tables tell us he is expected to live to age 85, so an average individual would receive $420,000. The return on his $200,000 would be roughly 3.85% per year. Not a great return, particularly if you are in the 50% of investors who die before age 85. Furthermore, with inflation appearing to be ramping up, how much will $1,750/mo. buy in 30 years? Annuities are illiquid; you can’t tap into the principal. Also, annuity buyers are relying on the financial security of the insurer, for decades into the future.

What about variable annuities (“VAs”) that invest in equities? The concept again is to grow assets tax-free, like an IRA or 401(k), and then withdraw in the future. The problem is the cost. Barron’s annual report on annuities, published Saturday, identified the average contract cost is 1.5% per year. In addition, VAs generally use high-cost, actively managed funds within, adding 1% or more. As a result, there could be a 2.5% annual drag on performance. As our DWM clients know, passive funds and ETFs outperform actively managed funds over time, primarily due to cost. A 1% annual additional cost over decades can take a huge bite out of your investment.

How about a VA with guaranteed benefits? Before the financial crisis of 2008, a number of large insurance companies sold a decent product. It was a VA with a guaranteed annual 7% growth factor. An individual could invest $100,000, for example, with a 10+ year guaranteed annual net return of 7%. Yes, the contract was expensive, 2.5% in fees plus the operating expenses of the funds. But, here is the good part- at the end of 12 years, e.g., an investor could take either the account value (net of the fees) or the guaranteed value of $225,000 and annuitize it (that is, start taking monthly payments). It was a good deal.  In fact, it was so good that insurers aren’t offering them anymore.

Lastly, how about a single premium immediate annuity (“SPIA”)? A 60 year old can invest $200,000 and get a 6% annual return ($1,000 monthly check) for life (roughly 24 years are expected). The return on investment would be 3.24% per year on average. Roughly ½ of each payment is return of principal and ½ is interest.

Conclusions:

BUY? In today’s marketplace, we do not think annuities are generally a good investment for clients with investment assets exceeding $500,000. Of course, there are exceptions.

HOLD? If you own annuities, you should review them with an experienced, independent financial adviser such as DWM. You may have a good one (like the 7% program above) or you may not. However, you may be able to exchange them tax-free into a vehicle with lower fees and better investment choices. Jefferson National, for example, has a contract with a low monthly fee and a wide-range of passive investment funds.

SURRENDER? Don’t surrender an annuity before getting advice from an expert. Income taxes are not paid on annuities until distributions begin. So, there may be significant tax consequences and surrender charges. However, if the accumulated earnings are low or the contract is held in an IRA, for example, it may make sense to surrender the contract even if you have to pay a small amount of income tax in order to emancipate your funds.

Contact us to discuss your individual situation.

Part 2 of 2: Your Financial Wellness is Like Going to the Doctor; Take our Financial Wellness Assessment

doctor-chartLast week, I talked about how comprehensive financial planning is an on-going job and not a one-time shot in the dark. That being said, everyone needs a starting point. For those of you already working with a professional financial planner like DWM, you’re on the right track. For those of you who aren’t, you may want to try our complimentary Financial Wellness Assessment.

It’s found by clicking below or going to our home page and clicking on the button: Button

The “test” takes only about 5 minutes. There are questions relating to your planning for retirement, to specifics about your employer-sponsored retirement plan, to estate planning, insurance, etc. You also have the option, although it is not required, to provide your portfolio details so DWM can provide specific follow-up. 

After the inputs have been entered, you will receive a Financial Wellness Scorecard identifying what areas – like goals, insurance, investments, mortgage, etc – are in need of improvement, on track, or are in good status.

Please note: By no means is this tool a substitute for real comprehensive financial planning. However, it is a really nice way for those that haven’t fully dived into financial planning yet to get their toes wet and get a quick, painless glimpse into the financial planning world. And based on the results, it could present a starting point for crucial needs you may have, and what areas a professional wealth manager like DWM could help you with.

So go ahead and take the DWM Financial Wellness Assessment today and think about getting that “baseline” I talked about in last week’s blog. By the way, I recently went back for a check-up physical and got the results. Since I already had my baseline, I wasn’t only able to see what looked like pretty good results but also that my numbers had improved since the initial visit. The “trend is my friend”. Is your financial trend your friend?