Breaking up is hard to do
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST
Life revolves around relationships. Your family, friends, co-workers and those who serve you. Changing a relationship after any long period isn’t easy. But changing out a professional relationship that has been with you for years is even harder to do. After all, the incumbent financial professional know a lot about you and may have served you well for a long time.
As professional relationships build, the hard part is to evaluate whether you are being served as well as you need to be. Most answer a resounding yes, that they are satisfied with their service providers. But in many cases that I’ve seen, that feeling is built primarily on familiarity because over time in a long term relationship you’ve lost your ability to benchmark. You may not realize what the new version of outstanding services may include.
For example, if you’ve got an accountant who preps your taxes and the only conversations that you have each year are to tell you what you owe, you may be underserved. A pro-active CPA will reach out to their clients that may have opportunities to save on taxes, and discuss those opportunities with their clients who may want to reduce their tax bill.
If your attorney who ‘did your wills’ tells you that your estate plan is done and current, ask again. Why haven’t you utilized trusts? Do you have a protection plan for elderly or minor beneficiaries; or are your children going to be cashing in your IRA at age 17 because they can?
If your money manager who’s charging you retail asset management fees, which can range from 1-1.5%, and there’s gaps in your financial plan when you look beyond the investments, you may be underserved.
And last, if you have a life insurance agent who only calls you on the anniversary of your existing insurance policies just to see if you’ll buy another one, you may be underserved.
I think by now that you get the message. Any of your financial professionals that are not integrating with your other team members or who only stick to their ‘silo’ of expertise increases the risk for you that something may fall through the cracks of your plan.
If you start looking, and find another service provider who enlightens you about what you’re not getting from your team of incumbents, it may be time to change. And that is the difficult break up conversation.
To have this conversation with integrity, be honest. Praise the provider for what you thought was a good job. You may go further to say that you feel your needs have expanded, and that you don’t feel that the scope of the service provider’s assistance has grown in accordance with your needs and the gaps that you’ve discovered in your financial plans. At that point, you may very well hear, ‘we can do that for you’. Your response could be- why didn’t you offer to do that rather than waiting for me to discover the gaps?
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of US Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/ SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.