SYM News

Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 3 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Parts 1 and 2 addressed the first four of five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor or anyone selling investment products. The answer to the fifth and final question will quickly reveal what kind of investment provider you are dealing with, and whose interests might take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

The fifth and final question is one of critical importance:  Will you accept the responsibility to put my best interests first? 
In the investment industry (and others), the responsibility to put clients’ interests before your own is considered a fiduciary duty. As unbelievable as it sounds, most advisors were never required to adhere to this principal. In fact, it’s still extremely difficult for prospective clients to know what they can expect of a relationship with their financial professional should conflicts of interest occur. This issue was pressing enough that in March 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) ruled that all advisors must become a fiduciary, though their definition still allows for conflicts of interest to exist if disclosed.

 

In contrast, financial advisors who identify as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) have always pledged a code of conduct more stringent than the DOL’s new requirements. Their compensation is fee-only or fee-based, meaning their pay is linked to serving clients uncommonly well, not hawking an investment product.

 

When considering a new advisory relationship (remembering that all advisors will consider themselves to be fiduciaries after January 2018, the final implementation date for DOL requirements), start by asking the advisor what having a fiduciary responsibility to clients means to him. Ask what his fiduciary duty looks like in action, and if his method of compensation might introduce conflicts of interest to the relationship. If you aren’t comfortable with the response, we recommend you keep looking.

 

The sad reality is, much of the financial industry is a thinly veiled sales institution. Because we are humans, we can become emotionally impaired by those things which have happened to us most recently. Market or personal disorder can make fertile ground for salespeople with “products” that make us believe we are well-protected. Consider fixed annuities, cash features like CDs and high yield deposit accounts, and “no risk no loss” promotions. Are these inherently bad products? Not necessarily.  But are they the best places to invest your money? NOT NECESSARILY. The problem occurs when a financial salesperson (making his mortgage payment by way of sales commissions) convinces both of you that they are!

 

A true professional will deliver guidance and results to steady you through thick and thin. He or she will help you sidestep the errors in judgement that might trigger a desire to buy and/or sell at the wrong time. A financial salesperson, sometimes unwittingly, will offer only the tools and resources at his disposable, however appropriate or inappropriate they may be. As they say, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!”

 

The next time you meet a financial advisor, forget about products. Don’t ask for a “magic bean” to help you avoid taxes, access market upside without downside, or protect you from what happened yesterday. Instead, ask the five thoughtful questions above. While a salesperson will have slick responses (or worse, try to sell you the magic bean!), a professional advisor will provide real food for thought.

 

If you wish to share this email or any others from SYM, we welcome you to forward, to print and post, or to direct your friends and colleagues to www.SYM.com.

 

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Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 2 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Part 1 addressed the first two of five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor or anyone selling investment products. SYM clients and friends will recognize how quickly these next two questions reveal whose interests are likely to take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

 

QUESTION 3:  Am I saving enough to enjoy the retirement lifestyle I desire?
Part of a professional advisor’s job is to become knowledgeable about your values, goals and dreams, for they are the reasons you invest in the first place. An advisor who is committed to your well-being will construct a detailed model of your financial holdings and cash flows to see if you are on the path to realizing your objectives. After exploring your desired lifestyle, he or she will tell you very frankly if there is a shortfall and coach you to spend less, earn more or for longer, or adopt a more aggressive investment posture to increase the likelihood you will realize your retirement dreams.

 

QUESTION 4:  Am I still working because I need to, or am I now working because I want to? 
On the flip side of the retirement coin is understanding, “For what reason am I still working, anyway?” Far too many people put their life passions and dreams on hold for far too long because they think they still need to work to provide for their future. Stop and ask yourself, when you have no idea where the finish line is, how do you know when to stop running? 

 

Sadly, due to a variety of situations, many people are never able to enjoy the fruits of their efforts as they had hoped. Can you retire earlier and still live the lifestyle you wish to have? A hands-on financial advisor not only helps you to balance your savings and spending, but keeps careful watch to celebrate the time when you’ve met key savings goals.


Next: What it looks like when a professional advisor puts your best interests first.
If you wish to share this email or any others from SYM, we welcome you to forward, to print and post, or to direct your friends and colleagues to www.sym.com/sym-news.

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Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 1 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Below are five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor, or anyone selling investment products. SYM clients and friends will recognize how quickly these five questions reveal whose interests are likely to take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

 

QUESTION 1:  How are you compensated?

 

There is a night and day difference between the service you can expect from a financial salesperson versus a professional financial advisor. To illustrate: Imagine you learned the lawn service employee who cuts your grass could earn a huge bonus – but only on the 25th lawn he mowed in a single day. How likely would he be to take the time and care necessary for your lawn to look great, whether you’re lawn #1 or lawn #25? We would argue not likely at all. This employee has an inherent conflict of interest between his financial incentives and the quality of work he can do for his pay, and no matter how much he would like to leave your yard picture-perfect, he’s dis-incented by his employer to do it. The same holds true with your financial advisor. Unless an advisor can assure you that he and/or his company’s pay is not linked to the sale of certain financial products, do not even consider following his recommendations without an independent review. 

 

QUESTION 2:  When should I start my Social Security benefits?

 

Oddly, the Social Security question is more often answered by a person’s social group, neighbors, or CPA than by a subject expert. To make matters worse, financial salespeople posing as advisors have little to gain on this front so they may not be very invested in providing guidance. However, a true financial advisor is as committed to adding value to your life as he or she is to working with you on your investment portfolio. From such an advisor you would learn that taking Social Security benefits at the earliest opportunity is one of the most common mistakes made by retirees and pre-retirees. Based upon years of analysis and recommendations for our clients, in some cases SYM advisors find we can add an additional 5% to 10% to the total expected value using in-depth claiming strategies.

 

Next: How a professional advisor guides you to a happy retirement.

 

If you wish to share this email or any others from SYM, we welcome you to forward, to print and post, or to direct your friends and colleagues to www.SYM.com.

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SYM Financial Advisors announces new South Bend office location

South Bend, IN - Sixteen years after first opening a South Bend office location, Winona Lake-based SYM Financial Advisors announces a move to the Leighton Plaza Office Building, 130 S. Main St, Suite 325, South Bend.   

 

For SYM Financial, a Registered Investment Advisory firm managing $1.8 billion in assets for individuals, business owners, not-for-profit organizations, the medical community and retirement plans, the move represents an opportunity to continue to grow and evolve while keeping pace with clients’ needs.

 

“Truly, this move is an extension of the outstanding working relationships SYM is known for,” stated George Wolfson, Managing Partner of the South Bend office, SYM Senior Vice President and Chief Fixed Income Strategist. “We look forward to serving our clients and the professional community from our new location in the heart of this beautiful city.”

 

SYM Financial Advisors’ South Bend phone and fax numbers remain the same. The mailing address is now 130 S. Main Street, Suite 325, South Bend, IN, 46601.

 

SYM Financial Advisors is among the Midwest’s largest independent wealth management firms. In addition to the South Bend location, SYM maintains offices in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Winona Lake, Indiana and also in Midland, Michigan. The firm delivers unique, goals-based portfolio management solutions, wealth management, and a completely transparent and investor focused 401(k) solution.

 

For additional information, please call 800.888.7968 or visit www.sym.com.

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Fellowship Missions holds Soles for Souls shoe and sock drive now through Memorial Day

Warsaw, IN –Eric Lane, founder and executive director of Fellowship Missions Homeless Shelter in Warsaw, has found that well-fitting, clean shoes and socks are some of the most basic necessities that go unnoticed for people on the margins.

 

That’s why Fellowship Missions, in partnership with the annual Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk, is hosting Soles for Souls shoe and sock drive during the month of May, cumulating on Memorial Day at Winona Park.

 

Children’s and adult athletic shoes, work shoes, and shoes of all kinds and sizes are needed.  “Kids need shoes for school, shoes for gym class, and then you add sports – football cleats, baseball, basketball, soccer shoes.  Kids and adults who experience homelessness often don’t participate in sports and activities, simply because they can’t afford to get the right gear,” said Lane.

 

All shoes that are clean and with good life left in them are welcomed.  In particular, Lane notes that extra-large sizes are always in high demand.  Donated socks should be new or like-new.  “Socks, any undergarments, and clean ones, are something that a lot of us take for granted sometimes, “said Lane.  “But something as simple as a new, clean pair of socks works to remind a homeless individual that they’re not forgotten.’”

 

Donated items may be dropped off on Memorial Day during TYM5K in Winona Lake Park, or at any participating race sponsor in the weeks leading up to the race.  SYM Financial Advisors, coordinators of TYM5K, will also accept donations at their office: 801 Park Ave, Winona Lake.

 

2016 will be the first year for Soles for Souls, but local sponsors hope to see the movement grow. “What really speaks to us at SYM is the way Eric and his team shepherd their residents with wisdom and love, and at extremely low costs compared to other homeless shelters,” said Jerry Yeager, SYM Financial Advisors CEO, expressing appreciation to the Mission for putting each dollar to its best use.  “The life impact per dollar donated is truly a strong value for philanthropists."

 

Please contact Eric Lane at Fellowship Missions to place a drop box at your place of business, gather donations from within your group, or to host Eric Lane at your organization for a short presentation about the Soles for Soles drive.  Eric may be reached at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 574-268-9555.

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