In my first job out of college, as in most, it was common to be asked to carry out tasks that weren’t necessarily part of the job description. My manager at the time would often remark, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the last line of that description was, “other duties as assigned” for a reason.
The same can be true in the world of financial planning. When we first start working with a client, we often say we’re happy to be part of any discussion that revolves around their money and their life. While managing investments and building financial plans is the bread and butter of the work we do, there are few things in life that don’t have some financial component attached. It’s because of this that we encourage clients to, in effect, take advantage of these “other duties as assigned” as questions or issues arise.
Below are a few examples from just the last week or two where we’ve provided advice, analysis or other assistance around things slightly outside the traditional investment management/financial planning mold.
It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that we help clients analyze debt, whether to refinance or pay off a mortgage, etc. It may be more surprising to hear how involved we can get when it comes to executing on those decisions.
Building a new home or refinancing an existing mortgage can be a major undertaking (read: stress headaches and paperwork nightmares). Doing this while in retirement or during a job transition can be especially challenging in today’s banking environment. Using our own industry experience and that of a team of lending professionals we’ve had success with in the past, we’re able to help clients “speak bank” with the lenders and help them understand how a client’s ability to repay their loan works when relying in part or entirely on an investment portfolio for that income.
We assisted a client through just such a process recently as they moved from one part of a country to another. From sourcing a lender who could work in their new state to providing much of the documentation needed for approval to helping ensure the right distributions were coming from the right places to secure an approval, they were able to successfully purchase their home without as much difficulty as they might have experienced walking into a traditional bank.
Clients can access their accounts, financial plans and other tools through TAAG 360°, our online dashboard. In addition to those reporting tools, TAAG 360° also includes a document vault that allows storage of all kinds of files in a secure environment. For many, this is limited to quarterly statements, but this tool can be used to store much more.
These vaults have been used to store copies of estate planning documents, copies of passports, credit cards and other important documents clients would like to be able to access from anywhere with a wi-fi signal. As home scanners can be fussy at times, if clients bring documents into the office, we’re happy to scan and upload them to their vault.
A lesser known service we’re happy to provide is document destruction. While we encourage clients to keep a small shredder at home to avoid putting any sensitive documents in the trash whole, in-home shredders are generally limited in the volume of documents they can shred without overheating or taking up a great deal of time. Instead, we have a monthly service that shreds documents on-site. At any time, we welcome clients to bring in their shredding which we will store in a secure storage bin until the next time our service is scheduled.
While childcare, college tuition or a child’s wedding are common topics in meetings, we also run into issues around needing to care for elderly parents or a client’s need to serve as executor or trustee of a relative’s estate.
While these issues can vary widely in complexity, sometimes just having a separate set of educated eyes can be helpful. As just one of many instances, we recently had a client whose mother unfortunately experienced a prolonged stay in the hospital. As a pile of bills began to arrive, there were questions around a series of related forms. We reviewed the forms, help complete them and provided feedback to clarify things for the client and their family during a stressful time.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Digging deeper into decisions around cars or other major purchases, renovating a home, reviewing a small business opportunity, etc. we have tools and other resources both internal and external to provide thoughtful advice and analysis on much of the above and more. Sometimes, just talking through an issue with an unbiased sounding board that knows your financial situation and long-term goals well can go a long way to making the decision that best fits what’s important to you and your family.
We’re here to help and happiest when working through any issue around your money and your life. If you have something that you feel may not be part of our services, just consider it part of our “other duties as assigned.”
Have a great week!