Making Cents: How competent is your advisory team?
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST
Most people have a cadre of professionals that surround them. These professionals typically include an accountant, attorney, investment person, insurance person, banker and whomever else is needed to service your personal financial issues. What continues to shock me is the tolerance that people have for professionals who are either incompetent or lackadaisical about serving their clients’ needs.
Generally you should think about the following questions when attempting to evaluate your team of professional advisors. Do they act as a team? Is there any interaction between and amongst them for the benefit of your family? Do they reach out to you proactively to alert you when things should change? And here, I don’t mean an insurance or investment person looking to make another sale. One reply from a new client was that their insurance agent did reach out recently. That reach out was to try to sell a whole life policy for this client’s newborn grandchild. That is not service, that is sales. If your agent wanted to provide you service, they would review your policies annually and update you on their performance relative to the long projection that they showed you when you bought the policy.
For example. If you think you have a good lawyer who tells you that your estate plan is all set, and you don’t have trusts set up, you are getting lousy service. Your attorney may be competent, but apparently not for your family. I would suggest the same for those with complicated arrangements that haven’t been updated for years. An 8 year old durable power of attorney is not likely to work with any financial institution and an old set of wills and trusts may now accomplish exactly what you do not want. It is pure negligence if your attorney has not reached out to you to update these critical documents.
The same may be said for your accountant. If you haven’t heard from your accountant yet this year, start shopping. With the large overhaul to the tax code last year, nearly everyone is impacted. Most people that I’ve met would like to know what that tax bill means to them personally. If your accountant didn’t think enough of you to answer that question in advance, it may be time to move on.
Do your core insurance policies simply renew each year, business as usual? A better service model would be for your agent to call upon renewal to see what has changed in your world and satisfy themselves that you are adequately protected.
Keep an eye on your bank statements. Many have opted for high teaser rate CD’s as rates have risen. Keep checking your statements because many of these teaser rates don’t last long, and then you are thrown back into a very low yielding account. The opposite is also true. How often would your bank call you to let you know that a lower rate may be available on your mortgage or credit cards?
As you start off 2019, consider getting a second opinion on everything and answer the question about the competence of your team.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of U. S. 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.