BETTER FINANCIAL LIFE DECISIONS

At Griffin Black, our goal is to help clients first understand their own financial world and then achieve the financial life they envision for themselves and their families. Investing is part of this, of course, but most individuals dramatically underestimate the importance of extra-investing issues and simply good financial decision making to their long-term success.

THE CONTEXT OF YOUR LIFE

Helping a client create a financial roadmap isn’t something that we do in the abstract. Each client comes to us with a unique set of background circumstances, aspirations, family connections, and practical constraints. As a result, we begin by spending time to get to know you personally. What part of what we do is going to be easy for you? Which elements of your plan are going to be a challenge and require special support from us? Are you being honest with yourself (and us) about what you want and what you’re willing to do to achieve your goals? What do you already understand about your money, and what would you like to learn more about? If you’re part of a couple, do both of you think the same way about your money? Do you both want the same thing?

Based on our initial conversations, we create a Personal Financial Profile that is unique to you.

A MODERN FINANCIAL TOOLSET

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you currently have a “financial support system” that you use to think about, work with, and manage your money. The question is: is the support system you have now the one you need in order to achieve your future goals? This is a nuts-and-bolts question, and one that many advisors don’t ever bother to ask, much less try to answer. We believe, however, that the right toolset can make all the difference in the world.

Besides the right kind of information, you’ll want to choose financial tools and vehicles that will support your goals without cluttering up or unnecessarily complicating your life. How many – and what kind of – bank accounts do you really need? Which kinds of savings and investment vehicles will serve you best? What part of your financial processes can we set up to be automatic so that you can get on with the rest of your life rather than being overwhelmed by financial details?

YOUR IDEAL LIFESTYLE

People ask all the time, “How much do I need in order to retire?” The answer is: “It all depends on what your lifestyle costs.” In fact, there is no one “number” that defines financial independence. Curiously, however, most of us resist the two critical tools that enable us to plan for and achieve our ideal lifestyle. The first is an accurate assessment of what our lifestyle currently costs. The second is an understanding of what our envisioned lifestyle actually needs to cost.

Understanding your ideal lifestyle is much more than a financial issue. It is an exploration of what you truly value and want you want to achieve in your life. Such values can translate into a financial context in many, many different ways, some requiring more money than others. Our goal is to help you discover what you want to achieve and then to translate those goals into concrete terms that will fit into a realistic and financially achievable plan.

THE RIGHT INVESTMENT PLAN

Your investment plan is a key component of your overall financial strategy, but one that must be seen in that context. That is why we address investment issues only after we understand what our client is trying to achieve. Our approach focuses on managing risk first, then on trying to ensure that clients are in a position to take advantage of opportunities that various markets offer.

A client’s investment strategy may also include unique elements; it may leverage different kinds of investment approaches and vehicles.

Perhaps most importantly, we try to design portfolios that clients feel comfortable sticking with over the long term, because those are the kinds of portfolios that tend to be the most productive. We pay attention to current financial developments, yet we avoid flavor-of-the-day investing.

FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

We think that it makes more sense to talk about Financial Independence than it does to talk about “retirement.” The world of work is changing and the prospects for traditional retirement along with it. For many years now there has been a steady decline in long-term same-company careers in favor of careers that individuals craft from their own needs, interests, identities, and opportunities. In addition, there is no one right way to manage one’s lifetime income and wealth, but rather many different approaches.

Rather than retiring, many individuals today hope at some point to transition from a job or career that they are good at and that is financially rewarding to a different career or job that they find either less stressful or more personally fulfilling, or both. In other words, they want the freedom to work because they enjoy the job, not just because they need the money. At the same time, others may wish to devote themselves entirely to pursuits that are not well compensated long before they are old enough to retire. Either way, the goal for many today has become independence and the sense of freedom that that imparts. True financial freedom can be achieved. Managing it in the long run, however, requires both support and adjustment over time.

SPECIAL TOPICS

Many clients have topics that are of particular interest to them. Be it college funding, planning for a parent, or planning to take a sabbatical year with the family to travel around the world – we are always ready to address special topics with our clients!

REVIEW & ADJUST

The world doesn’t stand still. Your financial needs change along with your outlook on life and the circumstances that you face. That is why we do not approach the planning task in terms of a single document or event. To us, planning is a process, just as driving a car to your destination is a process. Both benefit from a general roadmap, but both need to be adjusted along the way.

With the right toolset, appropriate support, and ongoing coaching, our goal is to make the process of managing your financial life as easy and stress-free as possible.