FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

Family Investment Center Team Talks About the Books That Inspire

Books are unique in their ability to inspire, inform and shape philosophies – all through the power of the written word. We’re entering a time of year where we can take a book to our porches and read in comfort. Consider these books for investment advice or just to get a good read for the pure enjoyment of it, each of which comes from a team member at Family Investment Center.

Dan Danford, CEO:

Nudge, by Richard Thayer

This Nobel Prize winner takes on the traditional notion that “more is better,” and turns it on its head. Thayer explains that most people choose better when they have fewer options. Ever witness a Starbucks first-timer labor over the menu? With a little guidance from a “professional,” they can be guided down the right path to something they will like. This is the same logic that can be used in guiding clients who need investment advice.

Fortunate Son, by John Fogerty

If you’re a rock and roll fan, this is a must-read. John Fogerty, the man behind Credence Clearwater Revival, has had a number of ups and a handful of downs. He chronicles them in this book. Fogerty also touches on what it means to live a creative life and how that approach can be used in things other than rock and roll.


Quiet, by Susan Cain

As much as 40% of us are introverts. While the extroverts are often the most rewarded for their outgoing and big personalities, the traits that make an introvert the way they are can also be found in successful people. Cain writes that churches are built for extroverts, as are sales and marketing models. However, introverted traits, such as a passion for reading, writing and understanding various philosophies, are responsible for the success of many people.

The End of Power, by Moises Naim

Naim explores how the 24/7 news and social media cycles influence the seats of traditional power. Power is diminished everywhere, including in politics, economics and social culture, by the new order of worldwide openness. There are no secrets anymore, which means the “knowledge leverage” as we knew it is gone. You can find data about anything, yet converting it to usable information and making it operational is where you will find value.

Richard C. Salmen, President:


The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High
Performance and Personal Renewal
, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

The central premise of the book is that energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. The challenge of great performance, as Schwartz and Loehr discuss in these chapters, is to manage your energy more effectively in all dimensions to achieve your goals. Four key energy management principles drive this process, and they lie at the heart of the change process and are critical for building the capacity to live a productive, fully engaged life.

Chris Steins, Investment Advisor:

 

The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey

Even young adults have read this book and used its contents to assist them in taking a healthy approach to managing money. Want to know how to lay the groundwork for a more advantageous financial lifestyle? This book can help you. Need to get out of debt? This book will offer ways to do that. Want to be better prepared for retirement? Dave Ramsey has some ideas for you.

 

Laura Holthaus, Investment Advisor and Chief Compliance Officer:

 

48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, by Dan Miller


Picking the right career can be intimidating to say the least. Dan Miller offers some insights along that subject line, but also talks about what work exactly is, how change can be challenging, finding your unique path and how the workplace continues to evolve.

 

What books are you reading this spring? At Family Investment Center, we’re no stranger to a good book, including those that address our industry and otherwise. We like to stay connected and reading is a great way to accomplish that. Need some ideas on investing? We have some book recommendations, but we can also schedule an appointment for you to come in and chat with us about your investment options.

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What Does Financial Planning Look Like When Your Employer Closes Its Doors?

Dan Danford Shares How Financial Planning is Different for Each Employee

 

When the Harley Davidson plant in Kansas City closes its doors next year, approximately 800 workers will experience a life-changing event. Financial planning is important for everyone, but when losing a job, it becomes crucial.

As Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, said in an op-ed in the Kansas City Star, the next steps these employees take will be critical.

Different ages, different number of family members, different financial needs and other aspects make each situation unique. The approach an individual takes to this situation will not be a one-size-fits-all scenario. In fact, Danford notes that it’s a mistake to follow the lead of a colleague.

“Good choices depend on thoughtful analysis of some personal issues,” Danford said.

For example, current financial status must be taken into consideration: Is the person married or single? Do they have other family income, such as a spouse who works and can take care of health insurance? Is there an emergency reserve in the bank they can count on until another job is secured? If a job isn’t immediately available, how long can they go without a steady paycheck? These are all important financial planning questions.

“Younger workers may face a big mortgage and a houseful of children,” Danford said.
“Older workers may have health limitations or fewer job prospects. Some workers nearing retirement age anyway may choose not to seek another job.”

Taking Care of Health Insurance
COBRA benefits offer a short-term solution for health insurance, but it comes at a price and it’s not very flexible. Because Harley Davidson offered good insurance, former employees will probably face a situation where their premiums will be high in comparison, which will impact the budget.

Young workers will have access to individual policies that don’t have all the bells and whistles older folks require, so they can probably save some money there. However, anyone with a spouse and children will need something more extensive, and COBRA only covers them for around 18 months.

The Retirement Plan
While it’s tempting to dip into that 401(k) plan while unemployed, it’s not recommended because the costs are high in a number of ways. As you likely already know, you’ll have to pay taxes, state and federal, on funds you withdraw. Second, when you pull money out of your 401(k), you’re negatively impacting the ability of that vehicle to build up compound interest, which sets you back months, if not years. A better choice would be to borrow money elsewhere.

Adjusting the Budget
Danford notes that it’s always tough for workers to scale back a comfortable lifestyle. However, given the fact that these employees will have had many months to prepare for this situation, they can begin gathering information.

“How much adjustment is needed?” Danford said. “Where can you adjust without disrupting your lifestyle and needs? Are there things you can do to boost your emergency fund or savings? Can you sell unused items? Empty the garage or basement, perhaps?”

Finally, Danford offers that, “trauma is likely to be short-lived. Unemployment in the United States is low and good workers are in demand everywhere. It is likely employees will find new work faster than it seems.”

For more information about financial planning for you and your family, contact Family Investment Center today.

 

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Navigating Investment Advisor Fees

In a Time of Complexities, a Fiduciary May be the Solution

 

The opaque nature of the fee structure that many investment advisors follow has prompted Jay Clayton, SEC chairman, to target the complexities in hidden fees that are bad news for investors. Fiduciaries who are fee-only are becoming a more popular option for investors who need assistance in planning out their financial future.

Clayton is looking to crack down through enforcement, but also by clarifying disclosure requirements, according to an article in Investment News. Clayton has spoken out recently about advisors who are putting money for clients into an expensive mutual fund rather than those that are low-cost. Also, he’s spoken out about a type of financial advisor who will use fund assets to pay expenses for their firm when those expenses should be covered by the firm.

There is also the issue of brokers that will mark up securities prices to give themselves a raise, and they do it in secrecy. Consumers are beginning to take notice, as they become more fluent in investment terms – and as they continue to watch market dips with apprehension.

Fiduciaries act in the best interest of the client, and they typically have less complex fee structures to prevent confusion for clients or keeping them in the dark about what they’re being charged. Commission-free fiduciaries pose far less risk of giving advice that isn’t objective. The White House under Obama put out a report that said, “Some firms incentivize advisers to steer clients into products that may have higher fees and lower returns.” This conflict of interest was estimated to cost investors $17 billion a year.

Simply put, fiduciaries are advisors who will listen to you about your fears, your goals and how you want to spend your life in retirement, then offer advice that is in your best interest. A good advisor will speak in terms that you understand, yet without talking down to you. They will charge a fee that is transparent and easy to understand.


At Family Investment Center, we’ve operated as a fiduciary since day one. Our entire team has a hands-on approach to managing clients’ accounts, which means we collaborate to ensure that every client is thoroughly covered and getting what we feel to be the best advice. Schedule an appointment with us today and find out why jargon-free, client-first service can be a straight path to confidence.

 

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Five Investment Strategies for Windfall Situations

Investment Strategies and Sudden Gains (Such as Tax Returns)

 

If you find yourself with unexpected money, you may also find yourself with questions. For many, receiving an unexpected sum of money is exciting – but it also requires a strategy. Investment strategies for these life experiences don’t have to be complicated; it can be helpful to review the concepts below.

Here’s more to ponder: thinking beyond tax season, the National Endowment for Financial Education found that almost 70 percent of people who hit it big will find themselves in the same situation they were in before obtaining that money.

Recently Forbes asked a dozen investment advisors about investment strategies for windfalls. Here are their top tips to keep in mind:

1. Pay Down Your Debts
While it isn’t as fun as going on a shopping spree, paying down certain types of debt is vital for a brighter financial future. (Note: some debt is good debt. Credit card debt is never good debt. Talk to an advisor about which debt is good and which is bad.)

2. Make Fact-Based Decisions
The first reaction after receiving a windfall might be to spend, spend, spend. However, to sit and do nothing aside from developing an investment strategy is probably your smartest option. Rather than focus on short-term expenditures that satiate your shopping itch, think long-term.

3. Hold on to It
If you have no real debt to speak of, put some of the money into the bank. We never really know what life will give us, which is why setting aside enough to cover three to six months of expenses (“emergency fund”) is wise.

4. Invest It
Before you invest your windfall, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions: is my emergency fund in good shape and are my debts paid down? If you can answer yes to both, consider investing in accounts like an IRA or brokerage account. There are many different options, so talk to an investment advisor about what’s best for you.

5. Addressing Risk
For those who are immediately thinking long-term with this windfall, it’s reasonable to look down the line and assess when you think you might actually start spending this money. You need to assess the risk associated with various investments so that you have a chance at compound returns, yet the risk is low enough so that it will be there for you when you need it. There are also taxes to consider, so talk to your investment advisor about which options fit your goals.

Windfalls can cause a flood of emotions, which we all know is not the best state to be in while considering financial decisions. Do yourself a favor and hold off on making decisions and contact your investment advisor about steps you should consider.

At Family Investment Center, we’ll talk to you about your goals and how this windfall can work toward those goals. Contact us today and let’s build a solid investment strategy together.

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The Continuing Education of an Investment Advisor

Why an Advisor Should be More Than Just “Experienced”

 

Most investment advisors have gone through a number of exams and licensing steps to earn their position. But is that enough? You want an investment advisor who is up-to-date in their industry so they can help you develop an investment strategy that is the best fit for your life.

Licensing exams will test the applicant’s knowledge of basic products and state and federal laws regarding investing. While one would hope a firm would only hire people with appropriate education, not all exams hold them to the same rigor. Regardless of how extensive an advisor’s education has been, it’s important for them to continue on a path toward furthering their education.

One credential you have likely heard about is CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ , or CFP®. These professionals complete education and testing in areas including budgeting, planning for retirement, saving for education, tax planning, estate planning, insurance, and other areas. They are also held to rigorous experience and continuing education standards and are required to act in clients’ best interests in a constantly changing environment.

While credentials are helpful, are they enough to ensure that you’re getting the advice that will help you reach your investment goals? Advisors can also attend national conferences to boost their education and gain new ideas.

One example is Charles Schwab’s annual IMPACT conference, which provides an excellent opportunity for investment advisors to hear from others in their industry and to soak up new insights. The cornerstone of IMPACT is education, and the conference is designed to cover vital topics in an industry that continues to evolve.

Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, says taking his professionals to IMPACT is an investment in and of itself.  “It’s not cheap to take all our advisors to the IMPACT conference,” Danford said. “This year it was in Chicago, but we’ve gone to Denver, San Diego, Boston, and Washington DC before.”

Despite the travel expenses, Danford said it’s totally worth the investment because the value is in what they learn.

“There are thousands of advisors there,” Danford began, “dozens of educational sessions and top-rated keynote speakers. Most of all, we learn how others are doing what we do for clients. We see new products, new software, new service models, even new competitors. Most of all, we hone our craft. Because being better each day is one powerful key to helping others.”

At Family Investment Center, we’re constantly expanding our knowledge of the investment industry so we can better serve our clients. Regardless of your level of expertise in investments, we can help you meet your goals. Contact us today and let’s talk about what your money can do for you.

 

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