George and Rachel thought they were doing everything right when it came to formulating their personal retirement plan.
The couple meticulously saved throughout their working lives and always paid close attention to their spending habits to ensure they lived within their means. George and Rachel also worked with financial advisors, which made the pair feel like they were on the right path to a happy—and monetarily secure—retirement.
In fact, every time they met with their wealth advisor, they were told their finances were on track and doing great.
Even with the positive reinforcement, Rachel couldn’t ignore the voice in the back of her head saying, “This is too good to be true. I don’t get this.”
That’s when the couple learned a hard lesson: not all advisors are created equally.
When a Harsh Reality Hit
With retirement growing closer, Rachel and George started paying closer attention to the various financial products their wealth advisor sold to them. It didn’t take long for the two to realize they didn’t fully understand the annuity products they’d been sold. They became increasingly worried they weren’t getting the best long-term financial advice.
George and Rachel’s hunches were correct. The two had been working with a non-fiduciary financial advisor—the type of financial advisor who doesn’t necessarily act in their client’s best interest.
A non-fiduciary advisor might argue a product is suitable for their client when, in reality, it’s not. Often, non-fiduciary advisors sell products to increase their commissions, regardless of whether the products are a good fit for their clients.
After a deep dive into their own finances, George and Rachel learned their advisor had been acting against their best interests.
“It took us a long time to realize we weren’t making the kind of money they said we would be making because they were taking so many fees and commissions,” George said.
Once they realized they needed a new plan for retirement, they fired their non-fiduciary advisor and began educating themselves on wealth management and personal retirement planning.
A Journey in Personal Retirement Planning Self-Education
George and Rachel started to learn more about investments through their friends and family members. The couple received a lot of information and advice on individual securities — but the process seemed too risky and time-consuming for the novice investors.
George and Rachel also took personal finance courses at their local community college, and attended seminars put on by non-fiduciary advisors. Despite their best efforts to learn more about investing, they still felt ill-equipped to make decisions on their own. They felt like they were receiving generic advice and endless sales pitches on annuities and products.
Finally, Rachel discovered the concept of fee-only, fiduciary advice. Unlike the advisors Rachel and George had been working with, fiduciary advisors are bound to a legal standard.
Fiduciary advisors must take the Fiduciary Oath, which states a wealth advisor must:
- Always act in good faith and with candor
- Be proactive in disclosing any conflicts of interest that may impact a client
- Not accept any referral fees or compensation contingent upon the purchase or sale of a financial product
“This is what we thought we were getting all along,” said Rachel and George.
After realizing the difference between fiduciary advisors and commission-based advisors, Rachel and George were re-energized. Their discovery inspired them to begin a search for a new fiduciary advisor through accredited websites like NAPFA and Zoe financial, which listed trustworthy wealth advisors in their area.
Finding Their Perfect Match
George and Rachel wanted to do everything they could to protect themselves from getting burned again. As they met with new fiduciary advisors, they were hyper-vigilant about asking difficult questions to assess an advisor’s abilities.
When they met with Wealth Legacy Institute, they were given the 8 essential questions to ask an advisor to use in their search:
- Will you act as my fiduciary at all times, in all transactions? Will you sign an agreement stating this?
- What are your qualifications and commitment to professional standards?
- How are you paid? Do you receive any additional compensation or financial incentives for recommending certain investments or referring me to an insurance provider, attorney, CPA, or other professional?
- Do you use a third-party custodian, such as Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, or Fidelity to hold my assets?
- What is your investment philosophy?
- What is your process for working with clients? How often will we meet? Will you be the only person working with me?
- Who is your ideal client?
- Why are your clients successful?
After meeting with three different advisors, George and Rachel decided to work with Wealth Legacy Institute, precisely because of their upfront honesty, and the way they answered each of the questions listed above.
George and Rachel were particularly impressed by Wealth Legacy Institute’s response to questions about their investment philosophy.
Wealth Legacy Institution's proprietary financial planning process, the Planning for LIFE Experience™, was a completely different approach to personal retirement planning and wealth management than George and Rachel had seen before.
Wealth Legacy Institute built a financial plan based on George and Rachel’s goals and vision for the future. The team at Wealth Legacy Institute also addressed the annuity products sold by previous advisers head-on, with unbiased advice.
At the end of the Planning for LIFE Experience process, George and Rachel knew where they stood financially, and walked away with a tangible strategy to implement Wealth Legacy Institute’s recommendations.
Results for Happiness
With a plan in place and a wealth advisor on their side, George and Rachel experienced the incremental positive results they had hoped for throughout their retirement planning process.
Even though George was let go from his company earlier than expected, he took comfort in knowing that he could retire early, with the lifestyle to which he and Rachel were accustomed. As a result of their diligent retirement planning, the couple realized Rachel could also enjoy an early retirement.
“We finally had confidence in our numbers, thanks to Wealth Legacy Institute.”
These days, George and Rachel are retired and loving life.
The couple recently bought a new car and pop-up camper. They enjoy spending their free time hiking, fishing, camping, and taking road trips to explore the mountains of Colorado and the West.