Navigating Financial Waters
Investors Rely on Savvy Wealth Advisors
Advice on how to build wealth is easy to find. Amazon.com will overnight a copy of “Investing for Dummies” or check out a do-it-yourself site like Wealthfront.com. The Wall Street Journal will share Warren Buffett’s “best picks.” Dave Ramsey and “Mad Money’s” Jim Cramer are popular sources. And your Uncle Bob did pretty well last year on a medical device stock he bought on a tip. Why not start there?
There are plenty of ways to grow net worth, but as Warren Buffett observes, “Investing is simple, but not easy.” Maybe that’s why many Americans just aren’t willing to go it alone. Instead they depend on professional wealth advisors to navigate an ever-shifting economy.
LOOK AT THE PAST
To understand why, think back to the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Millions of consumers reacted to a plunging stock market, record-high household debt and a bursting housing bubble by rushing to sell their stocks. Wall Street hit an eight-year low. At the same time, legions of Baby Boomer and Gen X homebuyers who had bought over-valued properties a few years earlier now faced foreclosures or short sales.
Especially hard hit: pre-retirement Boomers and their Gen X children faced with a tight job market and mounting student loan debt. Financial experts say that even fresh-faced Millennials (born since 1980) have suffered a sobering economic “hangover.” A 2015 survey conducted by Capital One ShareBuilder for CNN Money, for example, showed that 93 percent of Millennials both distrust markets and lack investment knowledge. They also say they want to keep about 40 percent of their assets in cash. But is sitting on cash or settling for low-return savings accounts just another risky financial strategy?
AN ENLIGHTENED OPTION
Enter the Wealth Management advisor. He or she may be a Regional Investment Advisor (RIA), a discount broker, bank or insurance broker, insurance advisor or “wire house” (e.g. Bank of America, Capital One or Wells Fargo) affiliate. Wealth management is a straightforward concept. Simply put, it is the science of solving or enhancing one’s financial situation in a consultative manner.
Fortunately the Pikes Peak region is served by a number of trustworthy professionals.
Northwestern Mutual Managing Director and Wealth Management Advisor Kevin Kaveney and UMB Private Wealth Manager Jason Endley, for example, work with a wide range of investors – from novices to retirees with multiple 401(k) accounts, from business owners to high-net-worth families.
A 2001 military veteran Kaveney heads his company’s No. 1 nationally ranked operation in Colorado Springs. He admits that a lifetime of experience and 14 years in the business have taught him invaluable lessons. Upon his joining Northwestern Mutual in 2001, the tech bubble burst, two planes flew into the World Trade Center and he was recalled to active duty by the Colorado National Guard. By 2004 things began to look up. Investors were optimistic again, and Wall Street was in the midst of a Bull market. Kaveney was now managing scores of client portfolios. The economy seemed to be stronger than ever when the Great Recession hit in 2008.
Since then, he says the smartest investors avoid the promise of flashy returns and are instead choosing “the flight to quality.”
“Americans have short memories. They like to be optimistic and chase returns,” he says, pointing to the pre-recession rush to “flip” houses and make a quick buck.
“I especially talk to younger investors about maintaining an overall strategy that includes diversification and a range of asset classes.”
Kaveney also counsels successful business owners and retiring military on how to protect their pensions or develop risk management/contingency plans. Successful people are usually the busiest – and don’t have time to do important research and analysis. “My reward comes from adding value to clients’ lives, helping families and businesses make good long-term decisions and plan for future wealth distribution.”
TIMIMG IS EVERYTHING
UMB’s Endley says his clients’ wealth building needs vary greatly, and “one size doesn’t fit all.” As a wealth advisor, he focuses on truly understanding each individual’s long-term goals.
“Depending on their risk tolerance and how fast they need their money to grow, I recommend a diversified portfolio that usually includes some stocks, bonds and cash assets,” he says. “I hate to see someone put all their eggs in one basket.”
“The recession was only painful for the majority who took their money out at the wrong time – and history has shown that another recession is likely,” he says, adding that he is very protective of his clients’ interests. Instead of over-reacting to ups and downs in the economy, he sees his role as providing smart account management and “tactical shifts,” if necessary. “That way our clients don’t have to worry about what to do and when to do it,” he adds.
Seven years after the recession’s low, the stock market has rebounded, posting a 200 percent rally for those with the courage to ride out the tough times. Americans’ household net worth hit a record $83 trillion last year as real estate values and stock prices increased by 30 percent.
Bottom line: whether it’s a Bull or Bear market, whether oil prices rise or fall or the Fed hikes interest rates, a skilled wealth advisor has your back.