Finishing Strong and a Year In Review
By Amy Irvine, CFPⓇ, EA, MPASⓇ
“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” - Lou Holtz
2019 is only weeks away, I personally cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by. As I started brainstorming the list of “what happened” at the firm for this year-end recap I was astounded by the fact that it all happened in one year!
But before I dive into all the exciting changes that packed 2018, I want each of you to take the next 15 - 30 minutes to give yourself a present that will cost you nothing, but potentially save you both financially and emotionally. I’d like you to go into all of your financial websites and email accounts and change your passwords. Was that a groan I heard? However, it seems like every time we turn around a new breach of information has occurred, so why not set a date with yourself to protect your finances? Be prepared, we will be asking you this question in the first half of 2019 as we meet with you.
My recommendation is to create a phrase that you will remember but replace numbers with some of the letters and a symbol too! Feel like you have too many passwords? There are password management systems that exist, but make sure if you use one of them that you change the main password at least every 90-days, if not sooner. Also, if possible, add multi-factor authentication, where you have to receive a special code when you log in.
We also wanted to let folks know that we will be doing some tax loss harvesting on some of the accounts as the year winds down; both the bond and equity markets have been so volatile this year that we will be looking for some opportunities to switch holdings in order for you to take tax losses this year.
For those of you in the Corning area, we will have someone at the office during the following times this year, weather permitting:
Monday - 9 - 4 (Sandy)
Tuesday - 9 - 5 (Becky)
Wednesday - 12 - 3 (Debbie)
Thursday - 9 - 5 (Becky)
Also, so that we all get to enjoy time with our families, the office will be closed December 24 - December 28th. We will be checking messages several times throughout the day to address any immediate needs.
Now let's reminisce about 2018...
At the end of 2017, I knew I had to make a decision. Grow the firm or not. I thought long and hard about this decision; growing the firm was very scary to me but the thought of not being able to help more people saddened me. Kate Welker and I had reconnected in the fall of 2017 and I felt like that reconnection was a perfectly timed. Both Kate and I took the chance and by mid-year, we knew it had been the right decision! Kate is focusing her time working with small businesses who are too small for a CFO, but need one. She also works with families with young kids - which she happens to have first hand knowledge and experience. Kate’s big professional success this year was passing the CFP exam!
Becky then joined us in April, as she was finishing out her internship. We were so thrilled by her motivation and desire to become a great planner that we had to figure out a way to keep her around. We are honored to have her two days a week as she continues to work at a tax office the other days. In November, Becky sat quietly for the Series 65 and passed. Becky will be listed as an advisor at the firm in 2019 and would like to begin helping her generation by consulting on one of the biggest problems they have...student loans. Based on the feedback from our advisory board, Becky will be offering both an hourly consultation as well as a project plan around student loans and debt management. This is a very atypical service offered by financial planners, which is why we love offering it! It supports one of the major goals I had for the practice, which was to provide financial planning services to anyone who wants it; not just people that have accrued assets to invest, but to people who need some direction on HOW they can accrue assets.
Matt was hot on Becky’s heals with a great eye for operations and paraplanner. Matt and I actually started talking back in October of 2017, but he didn’t join the firm until May of 2018. His patience and persistence to join the firm was impressive and he continues to be an enormous help in streamlining our processes. Matt has passed his CFP exam, but is working through the three-year experience requirement, which should be completed this May. Matt will continue to work in the capacity of our COO (Chief Operations Officer), but he would also like to begin working with young, high income earning individuals. I’m excited that Matt is taking on this focus, as this is another underserved group of individuals!
Kerrie then joined the firm in August of this year. She and I had met at the Dallas XY Planning Conference in 2016 and we were in a college planning group together. Kerrie is a busy mom with teenagers, which is exactly the type of person she likes working with. She understands their struggles and challenges. She and her husband are planning for their kids to go off to college and they know the pain of competing goals; they also know the challenge of keeping a healthy lifestyle and the desire to “get it together.” She is so committed to this goal that she has co-developed a “Get Financial Healthy and Organized Program” that will be launching in 2019. Stay tuned for more to come on this exciting program! In addition, Kerrie will be finishing up her experience requirement in 2019, having passed the exam in November of 2016.
Kim, our resident CPA, followed very quickly after Kerrie and also joined the team in August. Kim was also a co-XYPN member and a member of the college planning group that Kerrie and I were part of, but she found that she really enjoys working with those that are pre-retirement age. Could there be a theme here? Kim is of that age group, she “gets” the challenges pre-retirees are being faced with and the big decisions that need to be made! One of her favorite areas to analyze is Social Security and Medicare. In addition to the planning around pre-retirement, she’s launching a consulting service that also provides a narrow focus on the various social security strategies.
Scott, who is a CFP and professor of financial planning at SUNY Alfred State College rounded our planner additions for 2018. Scott had previously worked in the education system as a financial advisor for TIAA; he knows the SUNY and CUNY system like the back of his hand both as a planner and as someone who is IN the system. Scott will continue to focus his attention and expertise in that area.
Sandy Rowe joined the firm in October of 2018 in a client support position. She and Debbie Konopski will continue to provide client care and support to the team through all the many behind the scene actions.
Some strong collaborations formed in 2018! We began working with First Ascent Asset Management as a sub-advisor and we couldn’t be more thrilled with that relationship. The offer such wonderful resources and valued experience to the investment portfolios, and this year was a challenge on that front!
Additional 2019 Programs
Our 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Program rollout was a hit and we are going to continue to grow this program. There have been numerous studies that show financial stress can affect employee productivity! As many of you know, I’ve been a Fiscal Fitness Coach for a few years, and towards the end of 2018 we decided to expand that service and grow the employee wellness program in conjunction with the Fiscal Fitness Network. We are VERY excited to announce that ALL of our planners will be offering this service in 2019.
We have some big projects on our goal list for 2019 too!
We will be looking at all of software and vendors in 2019 to make sure they are still a good fit for our clients and we’d love to get your feedback! If you are willing to serve on a technology advisory committee, please let me know.
Our website will be on the updating block later this year as well! One of the major reasons this is on the project list is because we are working on some rebranding for the Firm. With the growth in the number of planners, we wanted a DBA that would reflect the diversity of the team, and how it impacts our clients lives. After a great deal of discussion and again bouncing the ideas of the client advisory group, we’ve registered Rooted Planning Group as a DBA for Irvine Wealth Planning Strategies. You will continue to see the Irvine Wealth Planning Strategies brand, but you will also start to see the Rooted Planning Group brand in 2019. We will be rolling out more communication about this new brand very soon!