The financial maze

I had lunch recently with a friend who’s in the travel industry. During our conversation, I asked him how his business was impacted by the advent of online travel companies like Travelocity and Expedia years ago. His answer surprised me. He said these online services actually created a bigger demand for what his company does, which is to simplify travel for their clients.  I told him that’s what we do for our clients: help them navigate the financial maze.

The Travelocity’s of the world added a new layer of complexity for many travelers, especially those already overwhelmed at the thought of putting together their own trip down to the last detail. For every person comfortable with tackling all the responsibilities of booking their own trip, there’s a traveler who wants to know someone is standing behind them when their flight gets canceled, or worse.

Perhaps no other industry goes to the lengths of the financial services world in making their products highly complex and difficult to understand. Ever read through a 100-page annuity disclosure document?

At P&A, we break down the world of investment and financial planning clients into three categories: do-it-yourselfers, validators, and delegators. Our target market focuses primarily on the delegators, but we have a fair number of validators as clients, too. Both validators and delegators realize having a trusted guide to shepherd them through the financial maze pays for itself in the long run.

The conversation with my friend revealed to me the biggest way we add value for our clients is to simplify their financial lives. We take the burden of pressing financial decisions off our clients’ shoulders and put them on our own. Here are a few ways we do this:

  • Assist our clients with their 401k asset allocation & fund selection, even if we’re not managing the account
  • Counsel our clients about stretching their charitable dollars through the use of a tax-efficient gift trust
  • Answer the question: “Should I take a lump sum payout or an annuity with my pension?”
  • Help our clients maximize their Social Security benefits given their family health history
  • How best to save for a child’s or grandchild’s college education in a tax-efficient manner
  • Analyze and answer, “Do I have enough set aside to retire and not run out of money?”

A case in point of simplifying our clients’ financial lives deals with a growing segment of our client base, those who are suddenly single. Whether by divorce or the death of a spouse, the financial decisions facing the suddenly single are daunting, to say the least. Making sure all bases are covered, beneficiaries are updated, and providing emotional ballast as it relates to money issues results in reassuring the client and getting them on the right track.

Whether we’re talking about the travel industry or financial services, the world is a complex place. It pays to have someone in your corner to guide you along the way and ensure the vultures circling above don’t pick on you. Let P&A simplify your financial life.

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Since 1995, Pittenger & Anderson has guided individuals and families going through money-in-motion events. We are a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor and a full-time fiduciary providing investment management, financial planning, and complimentary services to 700+ clients in over 30 U.S. states.

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