Wow! 2017 certainly went out with a flurry of activity. The market continued surging upward, the Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percent and the senate and house passed a unified version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was subsequently signed into law by the President. This eventful finish capped a year filled with robust and often divisive political debate, extreme weather related circumstances, but still, solid economic growth and significant market gains in all the broad market averages. The S&P 500 finished with a total gain of 21.83% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 28.11% and finally the Nasdaq 100 gaining the most had a total return of 32.99%. These impressive totals now represent the 9th consecutive year of positive returns. The S&P 500 is up almost 400% since March 9, 2009. Many believe the market is poised for a spectacular correction, while others believe it is now spring-loaded for several more years of robust growth. What should you be doing right now? We recommend a simple 3 step process that will prepare you for 2018 and beyond.
The truth is, no one knows for sure where the market is heading this year or next, but by following this simple 3 step process you can greatly increase your probability of being successful.
- Meet with a Fee-only Financial Planner
- Identify Your Goals
- Make and Implement a Plan
Meet with a Fee-only Financial Planner – Take the opportunity to meet with fee-only financial planner who has a fiduciary obligation to give you advice that is in your best interest. This initial consultation will give you a chance to discuss some of your financial needs, objectives and questions. Additionally, be prepared to ask targeted questions about the advisor’s work history, education, designations and credentials. Probing questions should also be asked about the services provided and if there have been any legal or disciplinary events in the past. If the answers you receive are satisfactory and you feel there is a good personality fit, it is time to proceed to step 2.
Identify Your Goals – Hopefully your meeting will act as a catalyst to help you begin to clearly examine what is most important to you and what you want to get out of life. This should include some sincere reflection and introspection and, if applicable, healthy dialog with a partner or spouse. Complete a deep dive into the caverns of your soul and make this a transformative process. As Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living“. Take this opportunity to examine your life and aspirations and establish goals accordingly. If your goals have long been identified, use this time to revisit them and adjust and refine them if necessary. Because finances tend to seep into so many facets of our life, proper financial planning cannot be completed without a little life planning as well.
Make and Implement a Plan – A goal is not a goal if it is not written down. Great creations always start with a written plan or blueprint. Don’t shortchange your financial masterpiece by neglecting a well thought out and documented financial plan. Your plan should include those things of most value to you and a clear design how to get them. The plan should include goals, targets and mileposts to help ensure you stay on track. Once your plan is complete, the next important step is implementing it. Your fee-only financial planner will be instrumental in helping you do this in a cost effective and tax efficient manner. Additionally, proper diversification is a must and sound, experienced and wise coaching from someone who has done this before greatly increase your chances to be successful. Ultimately, you walk away with peace of mind knowing that regardless of what the future may bring you have a plan in place and the ability to adjust it as necessary.
If you are a client of Net Worth Advisory Group, hopefully this is a pattern and process that you recognize well. If it is time for an update to your plan or if you have questions call your advisor today and schedule a time to meet. If you are not a client but would like to have a complimentary consultation click here or call (801) 566-6639 for an appointment.