Author: Michael J. Moss, CFP®, Head of Client Services, Senior Managing Director

 

Do I have a complete listing of all my assets and liabilities and their values?

Do I regularly log into financial accounts?

Do I know my annual income and expenses? 

Do I know how my estate plan works?

Do I understand the coverages of my various insurance plans?

 

Have you been asking yourself these questions? If so, you may need a financial “spring cleaning.” And though Spring may be behind us, there’s never a bad season to organize your finances.

Just like cleaning or organizing your house, it can be hard to get started. That towering stack of estate, insurance, and tax documents may remind you of the often-ignored closet in the spare room. But getting organized financially will provide you and your family with peace of mind.

However, while it may be possible to put off organizing your home without consequences, putting off a review of your finances can have serious implications.

 

GETTING STARTED

 

Once you start, you will build momentum, and be energized by your progress. You might be able to review a few accounts in a day with the same energy as cleaning out a handful of kitchen drawers at once.

It’s a lot of work, but you will be glad you did it. With new clarity around your financial picture, it will become easier to spot additional issues or even new opportunities. A new investment or tax savings may look just as exciting as a fresh, clean home.

In this blog series, we’ll focus in on several different areas of financial planning such as balance sheet, cash flow, estate plan, and insurance. We will also provide important considerations and questions you should be asking yourself along the way.

 

SEEKING HELP

 

While most individuals should be able to complete a basic review on their own, there are many instances where they would benefit from using a professional advisor.

This may be necessary if you don’t understand financial matters or don’t want to take a do-it-yourself approach. A professional advisor may also be helpful in creating a plan or “roadmap” for your finances.

On a larger scale, it is also a good idea to engage with an advisor if you experience a significant life event (retirement, divorce, death of a spouse) or if your level of wealth increases – thus increasing the complexity of your financial picture.

 

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN AN ADVISOR?

 

First, you will want to look for someone who is experienced and educated. There are many financial designations that indicate a level of expertise and knowledge.

For example, a certified financial planner (CFP) is a professional advisor that has demonstrated expertise in financial planning, taxes, insurance, investments, estate planning, and retirement by passing a rigorous exam. Other common designations include chartered financial analyst (CFA), who has expertise in investment analysis and portfolio analysis, and certified public accountant (CPA), who has expertise in accounting, tax preparation, and planning.

Clearstead has 48 employees with the CFP, CFA, or CPA designation, who are ready to assist you if you decide to seek help from a professional advisor or firm.

You should also understand how your advisor is paid. It is best to seek an advisor who is an independent, “fee-only” advisor. They only receive payment to offer you advice. There are some advisors who are compensated through commissions from products or investments they recommend.

Clearstead serves as a fee-only, independent advisor and we offer our ClearSight process, which is a complimentary “spring cleaning” of your finances that uncovers key observations for you or your family. It’s a way to “test our cooking” at no cost and learn how we can help.

 

 

 

Information provided is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes, and should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. These materials do not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities. The information provided is from public sources and data available at the time the information was written. Any information provided is subject to change at any time. Clearstead disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information provided. You should consult with a professional before making any investment, tax or legal decisions.

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We provide objective financial leadership through our fee-only advisory model. We do not offer proprietary products and receive no commissions from the investments we recommend: our only source of revenue is advisory fees we receive for financial advice. Our objectivity is central to the effective service we provide our clients.

Clearstead is an institutional and private client advisory firm that is relentless in providing solutions so our clients can exceed their aspirations and build stronger legacies for their families, their communities, and themselves.

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