In today’s day and age, wealth holds an unparalleled place in our lives. From morning to night, from news to entertainment, and our standard of living, everything has a specific price on it.
Throughout our lifetime, most of our efforts are directed towards accumulating and saving a lot of wealth for ourselves, our near and dear ones as well as our future generations. It is, therefore, necessary that the wealth that we earn and save needs to be taken care of in a proper manner.
Today’s world is changing at a rapid speed in terms of technological advancement, intellectual awareness, global weather, financial evolution, and many other areas of life. Accompanying these are curveballs in the form of black swan events such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, which can have a sudden and damaging impact on one’s investment portfolio. Such unpredictability makes proper wealth management ever more important.
When it comes to finance every individual has the same goal i.e to be financially free to pursue anything that they dream of. Reaching a point where you don’t need to worry about your finances need not be a long and tough journey. A lot of people struggle with their finances due to improper planning. Many individuals try to manage their finances and assets without any external professional help. While one can save a lot of money by relying on conventional methods, it takes skill to manage wealth efficiently.
But before we understand the means to manage wealth we must first answer the basic question. What is wealth? Wendy Adair Britton, chairperson, and chief portfolio manager at Adair Wealth Managementpinpoints that wealth is not just an ability to buy things we desire.
“With social security coming under intense strain in the future, people have started to wonder about what's going to happen to those safety nets. If you count on Social Security for your retirement, you might not live in the manner you're accustomed to right now. I think this is a real issue."
“We should first and foremost see wealth in terms of freedom of action for an individual. It allows us to pursue anything we dream of. Wealth gives us the power to live the lifestyle that we truly want. It doesn’t matter if your desire is to live a life of extravagance or if you choose to live a life of basic living. You still need wealth to acquire and maintain an optimum lifestyle for you and your family. Wealth is an important factor if you want to achieve true happiness,” says Wendy. “However, what people often forget is that true happiness comes from within and is heavily influenced by our mindset. The problem is that people often use wealth to live a lifestyle that they think they want instead of the lifestyle that they truly desire. For example, buying a one hundred thousand dollar car because your neighbor has a one hundred thousand dollar car will not give you true happiness. It’s important that people use their wealth to target the things and experiences that generate positive long-term emotions instead of the short-term superficial joy which will quickly leave them dissatisfied.”
“It all starts by defining your goals. Figure out what you want and then plan around it financially,” says Adair Britton. “For example, as a working professional you want to have your own house in, let’s say 10 years. Your goal then should be to have enough money to buy the house and to ensure its maintenance and upkeep. You don’t really care about if the market is up 10 percent, if you’re getting 7 or 8 – your goal is to have enough money to buy your dream house, and that’s what we refer to as goal-based financial planning. You have to have enough to retire, you might buy a vacation home, and those are your goals. And so, I am going to sit down with you and make sure that you’re doing all the right things to meet your goals.”
While there’s no magic number for what age people should start defining their goals, the general theory is the sooner you start the better.
“I look at all the millennials and I see a lot of people who have the assets and the potential to start building their portfolio, but aren’t prepared. They might be in their late 30s or early 40s but they haven’t really haven’t sat down and thought about wealth management,” AdairBritton says. “With social security coming under intense strain in the future, people have started to wonder about what’s going to happen to those safety nets. If you count on Social Security for your retirement, you might not live in the manner you’re accustomed to right now. I think this is a real issue.”
In order to gauge whether one can live comfortably on Social Security benefits alone, let’s take a look at how much money individuals can actually receive once they become eligible. Keep in mind that qualifying for Social Security benefits at age sixty-two requires ten years of work or forty work credits. For individuals at full retirement age—which is currently sixty-six and two months (full retirement age will gradually rise to sixty-seven over the next several years)—the maximum benefit amount is $3,113. For those who decide to collect at age sixty-two, the maximum amount will only be $2,324. As for the absolute maximum benefits from Social Security, the total amount is $3,895—but one must wait until age seventy to file.
“Therefore, what I try to do is to educate my clients about doing the right things today and start preparing for their goal of eventually retiring and having the wealth they need. You have to prepare early and when you’re younger to start facing these issues and that’s the whole concept of financial planning. When you look at someone who starts, let’s say right out of college at 25 versus when they start at 35, it’s a world of difference in terms of the money saved and the compounding effect of interest rates when you start early versus starting late,” emphasizes Adair Britton.
It’s easy to see, however, why people don’t always start saving and planning when they’re young.
“I think people in their 20s and certainly I can look back to myself – I am invincible. Fifty is a long way off. You don’t really worry about the adult things you need to care about. You’re worried about the cars and the nice parties and the clothes, and I think you get caught up in all the things you are looking to do when you’re in your 20s. And it’s hard to focus on the long-term future with that mindset. I was lucky though. My grandfather always tried to instill a sense of financial responsibility within me from a young age. ‘Invest in yourself today and invest wisely’ he always used to say. That’s why I started Adair Wealth. I wanted the people, especially young people to have access to the same kind of financial education I received from my grandfather. His wisdom is something I want to pass on to future generations,” says Adair Britton.
Digital where it Matters
The financial technology industry is one that is growing quickly, with an increasing number of companies offering an even greater number of online and mobile platforms. In the age of a living pandemic, it might even make sense to people to go for digital asset management initiatives. It looks so easy, doesn’t it? Just click on a few buttons, fill a few forms and you are golden. But going fully digital, is it the right way?
“In many ways, digital technologies already play a vital role in finance and that is not going to change soon. I don’t see why we should be afraid of it. At Adair Wealthwe have embraced certain technologies for our day-to-day operations. More and more I am using RC software to engage with my clients. When it comes to automatic investing, I know some brokers that are offering automatic financial planning and investing. That’s fine for some people but when there’s upheaval in the markets, as there always is, you’re going to need a person to sit down with you and readjust or maybe re-evaluate the plan. That human element is always handy, whether it is in person or over Zoom. That is the strength of the human experience,” says Adair Britton. “You have to balance the customer service aspect with the security aspect. That’s why we’re spending a lot of our resources in making sure that our client data remains secure. Digital technologies have their place and are the future, but they must be used carefully and wisely.”
The wealthier you become, the more options and opportunities you will be presented within both your personal and professional life. Proper wealth management can improve almost every aspect of your life. Do you want to build a life of comfort during your retirement? Maybe you want to visit exotic locations and experience the wonders that our world has to offer. Do you want to greatly contribute to society or to the world as a whole? Maybe you have a passion to support charities or global humanitarian efforts. Wealth can help you achieve that. So, it pays to start planning today.
*Wendy Adair Britton (Portfolio Manager, CFP®) has worked in the financial industry since 1997. After 18 years of working for Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan/Chase and Charles Schwab, she decided to start Adair Wealth Management, LLC so that she could focus on providing comprehensive, customized, and personalized services to clients. Her focus is on portfolio management and retirement/estate planning for individuals, families, and the self-employed as well as retirement plans for small businesses. Adair Wealth Management is a registered investment adviser in the State of Washington.
**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP® in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.