Common Myths About Financial Planners: Financial Planners Aren’t Worth the Expense

Through the many rises and falls of the economy in recent years, a great number of people cut back on costs deemed ‘unnecessary’. Oftentimes, we cut out the expenses of things we believe we can handle ourselves, including financial planning. In this week’s blog post we’ll tackle the myth that financial planners aren’t worth the expense.

Where does this myth stem from?

Like many myths, there is little to no factual evidence to back up the claim. This line of thinking stems from two roots: the fact that some people like trying to do everything themselves, thinking that only they know how to handle their finances; and the occasional need we all have for short term cost cutting. While there are exceptions to any rule, in financial planning it is rare. Here’s why.

Realities versus myths

While we may need to cut costs for ourselves and our businesses, nine times out of ten, it ends up costing more in the end. And doing it all yourself? If you are a skilled financial planner, educated and trained in the field, maybe. But the rest of us are wise to ask for help from a professional.

It could be said that no matter how much you plan to invest or manage, the real investment is not the cash or assets. It’s the initial time spent finding the right-fit financial planner. If you pick right, the rest is easy. And likely way more profitable than going it alone, or cutting back.

Finding a planner should be seen then as your first step at successful capital management on the path to reaching your goals.

A certified financial planner has not only a very in-depth education in financial planning, but resources and tools at their disposal to help you, including the resource of time. His or her job is to spend as much time as needed researching your best options. Your planner knows where to look for such information, much more than do-it-yourself online resources. He or she also is paid to be unbiased. So you are more likely to get clear, strategic and non-emotionally-based recommendations than if you were advising yourself.

What about cutting back? Truth is, you will usually save much more money and time paying a professional than possibly making mistakes with your money and losing some in the process. Consider the amount of errors you will be willing to accept and if you can withstand taking a hit financially.

Free resources can be used to decrease your risk. But we recommend using them more to increase your financial education and knowledge base—putting you in the position of the educated consumer when choosing and working with a financial planner.

Seeking to learn more? Contact us at GCW Capital Group today to explore options, and the right fit for you or your business. We look forward to dedicating our time, knowledge, and resources to help you achieve the best possible outcomes for you, no matter what your goals might be.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Common Myths About Financial Planners: Financial Planners Only Do “Big Plans”

This blog is the latest edition in our series about financial planner myths. Today let’s talk about the misconception that planners only do “big plans.” Financial planners, including our staff at GCW Capital Group, frequently do assist consumers with single major issues, such as saving for college, developing a budget, rolling over a retirement account or helping a client through the financial aftermath of a spouse’s death. However, these examples are still just pieces of the overall financial picture and financial plan of a client. Good planners provide their focused advice in the context of a person’s overall financial goals, needs and situation. A planner ensures that any recommended actions will not undermine other aspects of a client’s financial life and future. To help each client succeed, a good financial planner will focus on a spectrum of needs, such as: • Financial statement preparation and analysis (including cash flow analysis/planning and budgeting) • Insurance planning and risk management • Employee benefits planning if applicable • Investment planning • Tax planning • Retirement planning • Estate planning The road of life is complex and full of obstacles. You should be able to see your financial planner as a trusted navigator—someone to help you avoid or overcome dips and dodges and get you to your destination. In our next post, we’ll explore the myth of “only the wealthy need financial planners.” Stay tuned!

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Investment Advisors and Financial Planners: What’s the Difference?

Financial planners are a misunderstood player in the finance industry. Many believe a financial planner is just someone who manages and invests others’ funds. But while many financial planners do assist with investment criteria and decisions, there’s much more to the story.

Where does the myth come from? Probably the single most influential factor in the simplification of the industry is the media’s treatment of the profession. The “trust factor” with financial planners is often called into question. Stereotypical portrayals occur in film and on TV. Negative news events such as the 2008 recession and the Storm Financial scandal played a large role in fanning these flames. High-profile ad campaigns by large firms cloud it more by asserting that success is determined by just one factor: high return rates. While savvy investing is one service a planner performs, returns are only one benchmark of success. Others vary based entirely on an individual client’s goals and needs, and how those needs may change or flex over time in the life of an individual or business. The multiple roles a qualified and experienced financial planner plays, and the ethics practiced, thus go well beyond common public perceptions.

A broader measure of success A truly helpful financial planner knows that in order for a client to achieve success in the big picture, all the elements of planning and finance need to work together. This includes net worth, investment risk tolerance, debt management, retirement planning, estates, cash flow and much more. Good financial planners are in it with you for the long haul. They focus on your needs and interests over their own. And they are also interested in discussing and helping you plan the growth of your non-cash wealth (e.g. human, intellectual and social capital).

A genuine financial planner or CERTIFIED FINANICAL PLANNERTM PRACTITIONER can help you address a variety of financial needs, not just investments, just insurance or just taxes. They will use a holistic approach to meet your life goals through the proper management of your resources. Often a heavy emphasis is placed on financial statement preparation and analysis, insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning.

At GCW Capital Group, we also strive to protect your greatest asset of all… time. Because when all is said and done, the largest accumulation of wealth in the entire world can’t buy that today, tomorrow or any day in between.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Common Myths About Financial Planners

Many Americans have varying, often inaccurate, views on what a financial planner can do for his or her clients. In this series of blog posts, we’ll explore the most common myths about financial planning. Before we dispel these myths, we’ll start the series by explaining what a financial planner does.

A true financial planner will hold themselves to a fiduciary standard—meaning they must always work with your best interest in front of their own. They’ll assess things like liabilities, assets, income, expenses, and risks to meet your needs and set a financial guide. They help crystalize your goals and set in motion a plan to help you achieve them, whether those goals are to buy a vacation home or create a retirement fund. Your planner should also show a commitment to higher education and hold reputable certifications such as the CFP®.

Above all, there is a unique relationship between a client and planner. The relationship should go way beyond a financial transaction of a product and be viewed as a long term relationship that will provide council for many years to come. Most financial planners will recommend regular meetings to go over performance, recommendations, and any big developments. Your financial planner should always be monitoring the market and looking out for your investments to help you achieve your short- and long-term goals.

In our next post, we’ll explore the myth that financial planners are primarily investment advisors.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

GCW Team Shares Knowledge, Gains Insight at Two National Conferences

Our team at GCW Capital Group believes that education, growth and networking are key to our ability to continue providing our clients with the very best service. That’s why two of our leadership staff are attending national conferences this week, in order to share knowledge with our peers and learn new best practices in the field of financial advising.

Principal and Chief Compliance Officer Shawn Glogowski attended the Charles Schwab Impact 2016 Conference in San Diego. Thousands of registered independent advisers attend this conference each year for a week of learning about practice management, compliance, industry trends, new technology and much more. Shawn and his fellow attendees benefited from education sessions and keynote speakers that covered a broad range of topics, including how politics can have an impact on the global market, and how to make connections in the digital age.

Stay tuned for another post from Shawn soon with more in-depth details about the important and helpful information shared at the conference.

Meanwhile, Principal Tom Waring, Jr. attended the Bank Director’s 12th annual Bank Executive and Board Compensation Conference. Topics covered at the event included cyber security; executive compensation design, implementation and monitoring; succession planning; reputational risk Management; mergers and acquisition; and attracting, rewarding and retaining talent.

We’re excited to capitalize on the information and wisdom gained from these conferences and put that knowledge to work for our clients.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Getting from Here to There

We all have goals for the future. Some people reach those goals, but unfortunately, many others don’t. What’s the difference between those who get “there” and those who don’t? For some, it might be luck. But for most successful people, the difference is having a strategy.

At GCW Capital Group, we provide a holistic approach to your financial plans—from investments to insurance and beyond. Putting the pieces of these plans together is what we do best. We can help you save, grow and protect your most valuable assets thanks to our cutting-edge wealth tracking technology and one-on-one, personalized attention to your needs.

Watch this video to learn why the road from here to there is shorter for those who know the way.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Survey: A Majority of Americans Don’t Have an Updated Will

A recent Google Consumer survey led by USLegalWills.com shows that a majority of Americans—72 percent—don’t have an up-to-date will. People over 65 years old are the most likely age group to not have an updated will, and of the 65 percent of seniors who reported having a will, almost one in four said it was out-of-date. Read more about the survey results here.

What does this mean to you? If you don’t have a will, or haven’t updated your will recently, contact your financial adviser as soon as possible to make sure you have a document on file that reflects your current needs and wishes. If you’ve had any major life changes since your will was drafted (e.g. the birth of children, changes in marital status) then it is especially important to review your will and make revisions as necessary.

Also, consider talking to your parents or other older relatives about the status of their will. While the conversation may be difficult at first, it can help you avoid the stressful ramifications of dealing with your loved one’s out-of-date will after their death, and it may help ensure that you’ll be able to carry out his or her wishes.

If you have questions regarding your estate planning documents, please call GCW Capital Group today so we can help get your financial planning started.

GCW Capital Group, LLC is not a law firm and you should consult your legal counsel for specific advice.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Waring Financial Group Rebrands as GCW Capital Group

Hamburg, NY – Waring Financial Group, a financial services firm that has served clients in Western New York and beyond for more than 30 years, has announced the completion of a long-term brand evolution with the creation of GCW Capital Group, a full-service financial services collective.

GCW Capital Group includes GCW Risk & Benefits Solutions, offering strategic risk management and asset protection strategies for businesses and individuals; and GCW Capital, LLC, an independent registered investment advisement firm that was established in 2014.

GCW Capital Group will operate with the same team, led by Tom Waring, Jr., principal and founder, and Shawn Glogowski, CFP, president and chief compliance officer. The brand transition began in 2014 with the creation of GCW Capital, LLC, as part of an ongoing effort to streamline service offerings and continue providing holistic financial planning for clients.

“At GCW Capital Group, we strive to be a source of financial clarity and objectivity, and to make things as simple as possible for our clients as we help them plan for their futures. This transition shows that we follow our own advice,” said Waring. “Our work has always been about providing thoughtful, strategic counsel and related financial services. I am happy to have the talented team working beside me that ensures we will be here for clients for years to come.”

Glogowski explained the firm’s view of financial security representing more than just dollars and cents.

“Our goal is to help clients grow their core wealth—something we see as a combination of financial, human, intellectual and social capital,” said Glogowski. “GCW represents the phrase ‘Grow Core Wealth,’ an idea we all agree reflects our current and continued value to our clients.”

Waring Financial Group was founded in 1982. Since then, the team has provided personalized financial counsel to thousands of businesses, executives and individuals.

GCW Capital Group helps clients navigate the complex landscape of financial planning with unbiased advice and guidance. The group’s mission is to be a source of financial clarity, confidence, leadership, support, achievement and significance. Learn more about the services provided by GCW Capital Group by visiting GCWCapitalGroup.com.

Why Executives and Business Leaders Need a Financial Adviser

As a business leader, the decisions you make have an impact on not just you, but also your staff, colleagues and the business as a whole. Why go it alone? At GCW Capital Group, we have decades of experience in providing guidance and support to business owners and executives.

We can help you make sense of the current financial picture of your business, and develop strategies that can ensure a healthy future as well. Watch this short video to learn more about why your financial adviser can play a key role in your professional success.

Caring for Older Adults

Growing up, you relied on your parents to take care of you. But for many people, the time comes when those roles reverse, and they find themselves providing some level of care for a parent or older relative. If you find yourself in this situation, helping someone make sense of their finances can be stressful for both parties.

For example, do you have complete information about their income, including pensions or retirement funds? Do they need to downsize their living situation or make other lifestyle changes? At GCW Capital Group, we can help you with these complicated decisions. Watch this quick video for an easy checklist of what you need to keep in mind when helping an older relative with finances.

The Importance of a Financial Advocate

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about all the pieces of your financial picture. Is there anything you could be doing differently? Are there surprises or changes down the road you’re not prepared for? At GCW Capital Group, we serve as your financial advocate, helping you make reasoned and strategic decisions based on information, data and experience.

This advocacy includes a 24-hour personalized financial website, so you have always have access to your complete financial picture. Through the site, we’ll help you keep track of all your accounts, assets and liabilities.

We work cooperatively with your other trusted advisors, such as your attorneys and accountants, to make sure we always have the big picture in mind. Most importantly, we provide dedicated, personalized counsel and advice to help you make decisions that support your long-term, holistic financial goals.

Watch this video to learn more about why having a financial advocate is so important, and give us a call to learn more about what we can do for you.

Benefits of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

There are many types of trusts. Some offer control of how and when your assets will be distributed, while others create tax efficiencies. Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT) can do both. An ILIT takes life insurance policies and moves them outside your estate and into your trust.

When you create an ILIT, you designate your trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policies. The death benefit proceeds will become property of the trust. You determine in advance how those funds will be used. For most people, a spouse, children and favorite charities will be recipients of the funds. You’ll appoint a trustee to manage the ILIT and ensure your wishes will be carried out.

Having an ILIT will not increase your overall estate tax burden. The assets are held outside your estate, so there’s reduced exposure to estate taxes and the possibility of greater wealth transfer to your heirs.

Is an ILIT right for you? Watch this video, then contact us at GCW Capital Group to find out more.

Business Succession Plans: Do You Have One?

You’ve invested a lot of yourself in growing your own business. But have you prepared your company for a smooth ownership transition down the road? We recommend putting a plan into place now, while you can do it thoughtfully, rather than later, when you may have less time and fewer options. In addition to a detailed succession plan, you may want to obtain an updated valuation of your business by a certified appraiser. Other pieces of the puzzle include a holistic estate plan and a contingency strategy in case you become disabled.

Continuity planning is a critical part of your business’s future success. The earlier you begin the planning process, the better. Contact the team at GCW Capital Group to see how we can help you make informed decisions that work for you, your business and your family, and watch this video to learn more.

Helping Small Business Owners on the Path to Success

It takes talent and tenacity to make a business grow and prosper. At GCW Capital Group, our reputation is based on working with entrepreneurs who want to grow and protect the value of their assets. We’ll help you clarify and prioritize your financial goals—measure where you are now and define where you want to be, and when. Then, based on our knowledge and experience, we’ll provide recommendations to help you get there.

Watch this video to learn more about the tools we can provide that will help you reach your goals, including a personalized, secure financial website that allows you to track all of your assets and accounts. You’ve earned the right to enjoy the financial rewards of your work. Let us show you how.

Healthcare Planning in Retirement

A 65-year-old couple retiring this year can expect to spend over $200,000 on health care during retirement. Medicare, health insurance and long-term care insurance can cover some expenses, but they have costs as well. Are you planning for your healthcare costs in retirement? We’ll work with you to create a personalized wealth management plan that accounts for these future needs and provide you with your own financial website to track your progress.

Watch this video to learn more. You may not be able to control cost of future health care expenses, but you can plan for them. The team at GCW Capital Group can help.

New Estate Tax Regulations Proposed

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have recently proposed new regulations that would make it harder for some family and closely-held business owners to transfer assets to their heirs without paying estate and gift taxes.

This article from the Wall Street Journal details the proposed regulations. The plan would place new limits on the practice of discounting the value of ownership stakes in closely held businesses. Currently, these discounts are permitted because some stakes are worth less for a variety of reasons – they may be harder to sell or represent a minority interest. This allows the overall value of the shares to be appraised for less, enabling them to remain within the $10.9 million lifetime exclusion from estate and gift tax for married couples.

These new rules could make financial planning more complicated for many family business owners, and there is only a brief window of time to take action before they are enacted. Portions of the regulations may go into effect after a 90-day public-comment period, so we encourage you to contact GCW Capital or your own financial advisor as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns about how this may have an impact on your future business plans.

Does Your Life Insurance Need Long-Term Care?

You buy life insurance because you want to provide security for your family’s future. That’s why it can be so disconcerting for some policy holders to find out their life insurance is in need of critical or long-term care.

Some individuals buy policies that they believe to be permanent life insurance. In fact, these policies provide guarantees of maximum mortality expenses that are typically deducted on a monthly basis and a guaranteed minimum interest rate that can be credited to the policy. When the policy is originally sold, it reflects the current cost of insurance or mortality charges that are being deducted from the account value of the contract on a monthly basis. These costs can change and, in many cases, have changed over time.

Many of these policy holders believe that these changes would only occur if their health was to worsen. However, this is not always the case. This is largely contributed to by the very low interest rates we've experienced in our economy for some time. These low interest rates have impacted insurance companies' returns on the reserves they need to pay life insurance death claims.

As a result, these individuals are receiving letters informing them that their premium is no longer sufficient to sustain their policies. In most cases, these statements have been there all along—but in smaller fonts in their annual statements. Unfortunately, many people skip or miss this fine print and are therefore unaware of the changes in their policy.

Often, individuals only find out about these issues when they have about 12 months to put more money into their contract to help prevent the policy from lapsing. This is especially critical for individuals who, subsequent to the purchase of their insurance, have had a substantial change in their health. For these people, a lapse of the policy and loss of coverage could result in being locked out of the ability to acquire any new insurance.

It is crucial that anyone holding one of these policies works with a financial professional to review the policy and ensure they are taking the necessary steps to keep it in good standing. At GCW Capital Group, we provide this type of long-term care and nurturing to these life insurance contracts. Our financial professionals are experienced in working with life insurance and can provide consultation and insight on how to address such policies. Contact us today to find out more.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

A Unique Option to Maximize Life Insurance Value

If you’re over the age of 50, you’re probably looking forward to retirement. You've worked hard to provide security for your family by using a number of tools, including life insurance. While some of us choose term life insurance, others may have selected life insurance that accumulates cash value. If you own one of these cash value policies, you may want to work with a trusted financial professional to carefully consider the amount of death benefit your family will need after your passing. You may find that the cash value of your policy exceeds what they will require.

If this is the case, tax law allows you to transform some of the cash value of the policy into products that can provide you with lifetime income. This process is done through what is called a tax-free exchange, or 1035 exchange. This option may allow you to find more financial freedom during your lifetime or even retire earlier than expected.

This is a good option for some, but not all, of us. That’s why it’s so important to consult with a professional advisor, such as a financial planner, to determine whether this option is right for you. At GCW Capital, we specialize in this kind of “outside the box” situation and would be pleased to work with you and provide you with such insight.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Avoiding Power of Attorney Pitfalls

Most people think of the power of attorney as a foolproof legal document that enables them to handle the finances of a loved one who does not have, or soon may not have, the ability to make their own financial or legal decisions. But many people find out the hard way that a power of attorney is not an infallible document, and many banks or other financial institutions have strict rules about how they can or cannot be used. As this recent article from the Wall Street Journal shows, being aware of some of these regulations can help you avoid difficult situations when it comes to dealing with your loved one’s finances.

Many banks have grown wary of accepting a power of attorney because the documents can be abused by children or other caregivers who are trying to take advantage of or steal from a family member. But these restrictions can leave honest families in the lurch, especially when the transfer of finances is necessary in order to pay for a loved one’s medical care, housing or other necessities. Some people have taken legal action to force banks to accept these documents, and a growing number of states are passing legislation that makes it harder for financial institutions to refuse them.

The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to be knowledgeable and prepared before you need to use a power of attorney. Meet with your financial adviser to find out more about the procedures and requirements of your bank and your loved one’s bank. Some banks require a separate power of attorney to be drafted by their own legal team. Others ask for a notarized affidavit or signature guarantee along with the power of attorney document. By asking these questions ahead of time, you can ensure you have all necessary documentation in order before you need to take control of your loved one’s finances.

Assisting a family member who cannot make their own financial decisions is often a stressful, difficult time. Proper planning with your financial team can help ensure an easier transition for both you and your loved one.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.

Brexit: What Does It Mean for You?

As you have heard by now, Britain voted to leave the European Union, sending shock waves of surprise around the world. With this uncertainty, the global financial markets responded negatively.

Britain's exit (known as "Brexit" in the media) will not happen immediately. This could take years to formalize. It remains anyone's guess as to how this move will impact the world economy moving forward. Therefore, we at GCW Capital can't stress enough the importance of not having a short term reaction to a long term issue.

Now more than ever, investors with a solid financial and investment plan should see the benefits of long term planning. Having a globally diversified and asset allocated investment strategy will help weather the short term storm that is upon us.

For younger investors, these changes are a reminder of the benefits of investing for the long term. For those approaching retirement, be sure to revisit your plan and stated time horizons for each bucket of money you plan to use during your retirement years. For us, these recent events provide us the opportunity to re-balance portfolios to ensure clients' asset allocation stays within their stated investment policy statement.

At GCW Capital, we view events like this as part of our ongoing efforts to assist long term investors in staying disciplined and sticking to their plans. Our investment philosophy accounts for this type of short term volatility.

GCW Capital, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or exempt from registration. Primary office located at 38 Lake Street, Hamburg, NY 14075. Before making any investment decisions, please contact our office at (716) 256-1682 or info@gcwcapital.com to obtain a copy of our firm ADV Part 2A for more information and fee schedules.