How Do I Choose The Right Financial Planner?

Magnifying-glass-2[1] I had the opportunity recently to work with some great folks at the Journal of Medical Practice Management.  They had been exposed to The Financial Crossroads and asked if I would write an article to be published in their offering to doctors and medical practice managers.  The topic? How to choose the right financial planner.  Which, incidentally, became the title of the article.

As I reviewed the article prior to publication, I realized that although the article was initially geared towards those in the medical realm, the education is indeed quite universal.  Furthermore, there has never been a time at which so many people have been asking the questions in my lifetime: “How do I know how to choose the right financial advisor? Who can I trust?  How can I verify?”

So I was very pleased when I found out that the Journal of Medical Practice Management had licensed an online outfit to reproduce some of its articles, allowing me to share it with you and anyone you know who might be asking the question, “How do I choose the right financial planner?

Read the entire article now by clicking HERE!

You Need To Know…A Dead Pig In The Sunshine Is Quite Happy

Listen to Tim deliver this YNTK!  Click below:

You Need To Know – Dead Pig


YOU NEED TO KNOW… that a “dead pig in the sunshine” is actually quite happy.

I’m sure you’re quite convinced at this moment that I’ve finally lost whatever marbles I previously possessed, but if you’re from the south, you might know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  I was on the phone recently with a great client who lives in another state that is decidedly below the Mason-Dixon line, and at one point, he mentioned that he was, “Happier than a dead pig in the sunshine.”  Since I’m a big fan of the use of uncommon metaphors, I asked him how that could possibly be… he didn’t know, so I looked it up on Google.  And believe it or not, even Google was not able to tell me why a pig that was dead could be happy regardless of where he lies.

Do you ever feel this way when people in the financial world start talking?  These days, everybody is throwing around a good bit of gross domestic product, core inflation, and if you’re lucky, maybe you can have some credit crunch… (is that an ice cream topping?)  At tax time, you’re sure to hear about adjusted gross income, maybe modified adjusted gross income, and the rightly scorned alternative minimum tax.  In estate planning, you have a federal estate tax exclusion which may or may not be impacted by your annual gift exclusion or your lifetime gift exclusion.  But, if you’re looking for the most common “dead pig in the sunshine” style rule that could never be explained, why is it that the two primary ages for IRA distributions are stipulated in half years (59 ½ and 70 ½)??

Do you ever think that the phrases that are thrown around in the financial realm are actually used to make you think that you don’t know enough and thereby need to buy something from the person who’s doing the phrase dropping?  Next time, just tell them that “you’re happier than a dead pig in sunshine”… they’ll understand… and that is something YOU NEED TO KNOW.


Wag The Dog

Let’s face it: the topic of taxes is just… plain… boring!  Boring, but IMPORTANT.  Here’s the most important rule to remember about taxes in your personal financial planning in the least boring way I could muster.

From The Financial Crossroads Chapter Thirteen of, Wag the Dog:

There is an alien in our house.  Even though we willingly invited this being into our midst when it was very young, it’s become abundantly clear that it does not fully understand the cultural norms of the human realm.  For example, when left to its own devices, it will pillage our human food stores even though it subsists on its own specialized alien food.  It seeks to re-create the style and substance of our outdoor landscaping by relocating the dirt and mulch of our purposefully designed flower beds onto our sidewalks, and creating anew trenches and holes in parts of our yard that were previously flat and covered with grass.  And despite our munificent creation of an alien habitat inside of our home, it seeks to live in, and often bring destruction to, our human habitat, furniture, and creature comforts.  It’s…a dog.

Tim’s dog can’t catch a Frisbee with her mouth, but tries with her paws!

She is, as much as it pains me to say it, our dog, and unless she hears Jack London’s Call of the Wild, she will be for quite some time because she’s still only a puppy.  She was a shelter puppy—an adorable, lovable mix between a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Labrador Retriever (at best guess).  An especially strong case can be made for the pointer, because as she grew, she became so tall and lanky that her youthful coordination simply couldn’t keep up with her growth.  The result was an hysterical few months of physical comedy.

After a February winter storm, she looked like Bambi scrambling to find her footing on the ice-covered snow.  If she made it up a flight of stairs, she’d have to be carried down to avoid tumbling over her stilt-like legs.  And her tail grew to a point where it seemed to double her overall length.  That tail is a weapon capable of clearing off an entire coffee table.  And she’s so annoyingly happy that her tail is always in motion.  I have, on more than one occasion, seen her lose control of her overjoyed tail, collapsing her entire awkward frame into a heap on the floor.

“Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog.”  In college, I heard that quote for the first time from the professor that made the greatest impact on me in those years, Dr. Daniel Singer.  He was—and is—that professor that unnerves students because he’s not predictable.  One semester, he’d teach a class with three tests and two quizzes in between; the next semester, your entire grade was based on only one presentation.  But it was his unpredictability, his passion, and his depth of conviction that drew me to him, and I aimed to take as many of his classes as possible.  It is now my privilege to teach alongside Dr. Singer as an adjunct faculty member at the university from which I graduated.

Dr. Singer would not claim to have been the first ever to say, “Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog,” but to me, in my junior year of college, it was groundbreaking, and it still is.  Too many people, too often, make poor economic decisions because their judgment is clouded by tax concerns.  In most financial decisions, the tax consequences are a secondary or tertiary—at best—consideration.  Drew Tignanelli, a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner with 30 years of experience balancing tax planning within the framework of good financial planning put it to me this way: “First, forget about taxes!”

How could he make such a claim?  It’s not because he sees taxes or tax planning as irrelevant or unimportant.  He simply recognizes that in the realm of personal financial planning, you should make decisions first based on the wisdom of the investment, insurance, retirement, or estate planning strategy, and then take a look at the taxes.