You don’t know what you don’t know… Simon Sinek
Good Questions or Good Answers?:
Consumers of financial advice need good answers to the challenges facing them and their financial lives. How can I create more capital to meet my financial independence goals and dreams? Are there techniques and strategies to reduce the amount of taxes I pay and make it easier to save and invest? What strategies should I consider for investing in today’s complex economic environment? What things am I missing that would help me meet my goals and dreams?
While answers are important, the more important issue for the financial planning process is the questions themselves. Questions ensure as many of the issues are surfaced and solved as possible. For example, it makes no sense to accumulate a large investment account, only to lose it to a catastrophic loss or liability issue that could have been easily and inexpensively insured. Paying more than necessary to the government in taxes or deferring income manically to pay excessive taxes later also does not make sense. The plans that exhibit the best effectiveness often discover, evaluate, and compensate for issues not originally “top of mind” for a client.
Over the years, White Oaks has discovered that potential clients have a couple of “hot button” issues. However, the best plans and the ones that result in the highest level of client satisfaction, come from the exposure of how each of the pieces work together to bring the best overall result for the client.
Asking good questions is a direct result of:
Specialized Training and Knowledge:
White Oaks’ teams are made up of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Public Accountant (CPA). The team work in tight coordination with the existing advisors and the client’s own tax profession and legal advisors. To obtain a complete view of a client’s challenges and opportunities, one must conduct a full 360-degree assessment. This will maximize the effectiveness of recommendations and implementation of strategies in achieving their goals and dreams.
Book learning is important and worthy of respect. Yet, the actual experience in discovering and dealing with complex issues is an important criterion in the choice of a financial advisory team. Experience is often the differentiator in how complete and effective a crafted plan is for a client.
As mentioned above, White Oaks has a trained, experienced team, second to none. That said, our willingness and effectiveness of working with existing advisors is a key distinguishing factor. More minds, more ears, more brains working together translates into highly probable outcomes for clients.
Independence and Integrity:
We value independence and integrity at White Oaks. Unfortunately, too many stories continue to surface about bad practices spawned by a sales culture. In addition to being 100% Fee-Only (receiving no compensation from anyone other than a client) assuring we are focused exclusively on the client’s concerns and issues, we have a strong culture of compliance. Throughout team meetings, we discuss topics of client care, confidentiality, and ethical conduct.
In conclusion, good answers are important. However, without good questions, wrong or incomplete answers are too often the norm. Seek the process where you may say ‘hmmm, that’s a great question” or “I hadn’t thought of that or in that way”. Seek true wisdom through searching for and allowing the inspection of the things you don’t know but would benefit from knowing. Let us know how we can help.
Micki Larson is the Director of Operations at White Oaks. She is a leader in process improvement, implementation, marketing strategy, technology and business development. She increases the effectiveness and efficiency of operational and technology systems, processes and policies in support of White Oak’s mission — specifically, supporting better management reporting, information flow, business process and organizational planning.