Our clients who have been around a few years know we’ve made lots of changes. From the creation of an independent financial advisory practice in August 2011 (then called “Palo Alto Investments”), to new custodians, new investment strategies, early adoption of new technology, the total reinvention of the firm into the fee-only RIA, nVest Advisors in October 2015, and expanding the firm into Colorado in 2017.
And although there have been a lot of changes over the years, we don’t believe in doing them in a haphazard way. My intention as CEO of nVest Advisors is to innovate and re-invent at the right moments in our development as a company. It is delivering what we and our clients need, when we need it, that gets my creative juices flowing.
One of the changes I’m most proud of is coming at the start of 2018. We’re changing your experience as a client in ways I think will amaze and thrill you by changing what we focus on and what we talk about with you.
Let me explain.
In the past several years, since the Great Recession, it’s been easy to be overly focused on the investment markets and how your investments were performing. Part of that is the nature of investment media – CNBC and the like are fixated on today’s stock market, and spend hours a day fretting about about what’s coming next. Everyone was gun-shy. We all obsessed over when the next big correction was coming, and how to weather that imagined storm. We were waiting for “the new normal” the experts kept saying was here (though no one could say what that new “normal” was, exactly). The Great Recession made many of us in this business hyper-focused on account performance and market indicators, and I’m no exception. During the last few years my focus as an advisor became, I believe, disproportionately concerned with making sure your investments were doing well.
And we made many changes during that time to help the investments – we lowered advisory fees, we changed our models and even custodians to provide better service at lower costs. We still hunt down the lowest cost investments that do the job I need them to do in a quality, predictable way. And that won’t change.
But your investments are not all that you entrust to a financial advisor. They’re not even the most important things. Your goals are. Your hopes and fears and dreams for the future are. And those are the things that matter in the long run. Those are the things that must matter.
We shouldn’t care about investments simply because markets move or elections happen or congress acts (or doesn’t act) or hurricanes rage. We need to care about our investments because we’re relying on them to finance the other things in our lives that we care much more about.
I wouldn’t say we stopped caring about your goals and making sure you were on track to reach them. Far from it. But I don’t think we revisit them enough. And one thing I can tell you as a long-time business owner as well as a financial planner is, what you don’t focus on and put real effort in, just won’t happen.
Plus, goals can change. Life gets messy. I’m sure many of you who had financial plans done by me in 2012 or 2013 are in a different place today than you imagined you’d be.
So, starting in 2018, we’re going to change the focus of our interactions with you, our client. We’re shifting the focus of our conversations away from markets and account performance and general “investing”, and taking them back to working on your life plan. We’re making your goals and dreams and future plans the core of our mission. We’ll get the investing right, but it’s much more important to me that we get your goals met and your hopes fulfilled.
And there’s even more.
I don’t believe it’s possible for a 25 year old, or even a 45 year old, to realistically imagine life at age 70. Frankly, at 46, I can look back and see that I was wildly wrong about how I imagined life would turn out even 15 years ago. Most of us live life that way – planning vaguely for the future but having current events knock us off course, or end those dreams entirely.
As a financial advisor – your financial advisor – I’ve got to come alongside you and ride life’s waves with you much more closely. I’ve got to be able to make course corrections with you, to make sure you’re still headed toward your goals no matter what happens. I now believe that the old-school method of financial planning – giving you an all-encompassing, whole-life plan regardless of the age at which we first meet, is worthless.
So I’m happy to introduce a whole new way to work with you. We call it the nVestor LifeCycle. It’s a financial plan that grows with you, adapts to life’s eccentricities, and changes focus as you do.
We’re going to start with three phases in the nVestor LifeCycle (we’ll expand them as we need to), and in each phase, we’ll be working closely with you only on those priorities, goals, and financial milestones to move you to the next phase of the LifeCycle.
For example, as an Early nVestor, you may have just gotten started investing and have children at home. Your debt may be high and your career is still getting ramped up. Your needs, to protect your future earning ability, get debt paid down and establish emergency savings, are likely far different than someone in their late 50s. So we’ll focus only on the stuff that matters to you right now. (I’ve got my eye on the long-term – don’t worry – but to ask you to do so isn’t terribly realistic when you’ve got homework to get done and soccer games to get to.)
As an Emerging nVestor, you’ve got some bigger goals in mind and you’re starting to get serious about investing. Maybe you’ve got college or a wedding to pay for, or want to make sure you’re okay in the event of a layoff. You might actually own a set of golf clubs and a Buick. You may have to help care for loved ones at both ends of life. Retirement is out there now as a realistic thing. We’ll help you lay out a roadmap to reach your new, bigger goals, like a second home or a travel budget in retirement, while making sure taxes and other costs don’t eat it all away.
As an Established nVestor, making the most of what you’ve saved, making sure you leave a legacy and provide for loved ones, investing in ways that reflect your values, thinking about health care costs and taxes are major concerns. We’ll focus together on the things that matter to you now and make sure your wishes are protected in the future.
I’m extremely excited about this change, and I think you’ll be, too. Here’s how we’ll implement it:
- While we won’t turn any away, we’re not actively seeking new clients for the rest of 2017, so we can get the internal infrastructure in place.
- Meanwhile, our current clients will all be invited to gain access to our new Client Portal, which will be the central hub for our planning and communication going forward. We’re doing this is phases.
- Beginning with annual appointments in January, we’ll be meeting with each of you in person or by video, to begin the process of reorienting your nVest Advisors experience. We’ll update and review all of the previous info and plans, and migrate your plan into our new online planning portal that we can work on together. And together, we’ll pick your nVestor LifeCycle starting point.
- Our communication with you will be shifted toward helping you in your current nVestor LifeCycle. That will include newsletters, webinars, social media posts, and more. If you are an Early nVestor, for example, the communication you’ll get from us will be focused on your needs, not the general needs of all of our clients. The quarterly webinars and special events we invite you to will be tailored to things you need to learn. And our phone calls and meetings will always start and end focused on meeting your goals and achieving your plan.
I’m very confident that nVest Advisors is on the verge of great growth, precisely because we’re making this whole experience about you. If you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you directly! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a brief phone call.
See you in 2018!