Broad Green Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection
Self-care, simplified finances and unemotional investing choices are some of the ways financial advisers are planning to better themselves in 2020.
Despite their differing goals, the advisers who answered a MarketWatch question about their New Year’s resolutions repeated a common theme in their replies.
They all want to achieve 20-20 vision on their personal and financial well-being in the New Year, regardless of all the noise and distractions out there.
An estimated 99 million Americans are making financial New Year’s resolutions this year and the top goal is saving more, according to a WalletHub survey.
Like regular consumers, many advisers also want to save more. They just might have different approaches on the annual rite of attempted self-improvement, talking about inflation rates, investment wish lists and the perils of market timing based on the presidential election.
Financial advisers make a living doling out money and investment advice, so here’s the recommendations they want themselves to follow this coming year:
Taking care of yourself (and those around you)
Advisers said they wanted to take better personal care of themselves this year. “2020 is the year I’m making sure to take care of myself and my relationships, face to face, not online,” said Tara Unverzagt, founder of South Bay Financial Partners in Torrance, Calif.
She spent five years building up her firm and “2020 is the year I start riding my bike regularly, do my yoga every week, and take a few moments every day to meditate and clear my mind. I expected my financial life will be no worse off and who knows, my business may thrive even more because of it. ”
2020 is the year I start riding my bike regularly, do my yoga every week, and take a few moments every day to meditate and clear my mind
Sometimes, the self-care entails spending some money to show gratitude for the support of others.
Ian Bloom, the owner of Open World Financial Life Planning in Raleigh, N.C., plans to keep building his business with a growing client list and his visibility with a forthcoming book in a series. But he’s also going to get his wife the new couch she’s been eyeing.
“As an entrepreneur’s wife, she’s gone without a few of the luxury goods she’s been wanting in order for me to start my business,” he said. “It’d be cool to be able to give her a significant item that she’s been interested in over the last year and relieve a little of that ‘belt-tightening’ feeling that is required when one launches a new business.”
He also hopes to sneak some more vacation time with her and pour more money into his retirement account. “Given that we didn’t buy the couch, you can imagine we also haven’t been saving as much as we’d hoped over the last year. Again, that was a calculated decision. Starting a business requires capital and going without for a while. But it would be nice to get back to growing our net worth instead of just breaking even next year,” he said.
Ron Strobel, the founder of Retire Sensibly in Nampa, Idaho, is planning on buying cars. That’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. “I’ve always been a proponent of buying cheaper used cars. I’ve repeated that advice hundreds of times to clients and friends,” he said.
The 12- and 13-year-old vehicles he and his spouse drive are now on the fritz and he’s worried about an unsafe breakdown in a remote spot. A new Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -0.74% RAV4 and 4Runner would cost a combined $1,300 monthly payment, he said. That’s without insurance costs, too.
“We can afford it, but I just can’t stop thinking about what else I could do with that $1,300 each month. I could save more, I could make an extra payment on my mortgage, I could buy a rental property. I could take several fairly luxurious vacations each year,” Strobel wrote. “I suppose you could say that my goal for 2020 is to stop being so frugal and treat myself occasionally, especially when it comes to my own well being.”
Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Leibel Sternbach, the founder of Yields4U in Melville, N.Y., knows money matters can be complex and emotional. That’s why he’s going to hire a financial adviser to grow his own money in 2020.
‘One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that when it comes to yourself being objective is incredibly hard.’
“One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that when it comes to yourself being objective is incredibly hard,” he said. Despite his education and expertise, “as I sit here helping my clients get their end of year finances in order, I realize how much I have missed for myself over the year.”
He wants “a financial adviser who can help keep me in line and check with my own finances, just like how I work to help my clients stay on track.”
Jennifer Weber, vice president of financial planning at Weber Asset Management in Lake Success, N.Y., said one might assume that because she’s a financial planner, she abides by a strict budget. “I wish I could say this was true! In reality, it’s much easier to give advice than follow it,” Weber said.
She and her husband have their financial goals like saving for retirement, travel, home improvements and college savings for their kids, she said. “To help keep things in perspective, and keep ourselves on track, I plan to go back to advice I give and want to follow: The simple 50/30/20 rule. 50% of take-home pay on necessities. 30% of take-home pay on wants. 20% of take-home pay on savings and debt repayment,” Weber explained.
‘To help keep things in perspective, and keep ourselves on track, I plan to go back to advice I give and want to follow.’
She’s going to go through the household budget and re-automate accounts as much as possible to meet the 50/30/20 rule.
David Haas, owner of Cereus Financial Advisors in Franklin Lakes, N.J., is taking a simple, but crucial step. He’s compiling a list of all his personal financial accounts and making sure his wife can access them if Haas becomes incapacitated or dies.
“It is so important that loved ones can have access to your accounts and information when bad things happen, but increased security means this can be very difficult. Like everyone, I put these things off, but I really need to do it in 2020,” he said.
Others say it’s critical to plan ahead for all sorts of account access. For example, one grieving man needed a court order before Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.51% would give him access to cloud-stored photos on his dead husband’s account.
For Mike Silane, the founder and managing partner of 21 West Wealth Management in Irvine, Calif., the holiday season means a review and update of his “investment wish list.” These are the companies, funds and ETFs he wants a share of, but are too expensive right now. “I check it twice too!” he added.
Silane also says around this time, he’s reviewing liquidity needs “so that I’m not letting cash sit around uninvested, earning close to zero.”
To make all his money work for him, Silane starts by thinking about how much cash he might need quickly and then considers putting money in a money market fund, a certificate of deposit or a short-term bond or ETF. “For longer term investing, I of course consider if I want to add to equities at this time. With constant inflation, even very low inflation, uninvested cash is always a money loser.”
Some advisers are already thinking how they will handle the hard-fought presidential election in November 2020 and vowing not to mix politics with investing choices.
Money on the side lines does little in the context of achieving long term goals, no matter the party that gets elected.
It’s understandable why they’d want to think it through. President Donald Trump’s impeachment for his alleged pressure on the Ukranian government so far hasn’t rattled investors based on expectations that any trial in the Senate wouldn’t result in removal.
Democratic challengers, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders are vowing more taxes on the super rich and the effects could be tough on the stock market, some well-heeled observers argue.
Far from the political fray, Ashlee deSteiger, the founder of Gunder Wealth Management in Birmingham, Mich., said she is trying to educate her clients — and remind herself — about how important it is to keep money in the market and have a long-term focus despite any volatility.
“Money on the side lines does little in the context of achieving long term goals! No matter the party that gets elected, tactical portfolio changes are likely to be made based on emotions versus fundamental investment principles,” she said. “For that reason, I’m a proponent of reminding my clients about staying the course and not letting the election alone change their investment allocations in 2020.”