Making Cents: Your own team assessment
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST
Just like a professional sports team, it would be wise idea for you to review your entire team of service providers. There is no time like the present to evaluate that you have assembled the right professionals to help you keep your financial house in order.
The hardest part about this evaluation is judging the quality of advice and service that you get from each member of your team. As your relationships endure, it is sometimes difficult to place a professionally skeptical eye on your beloved team to complete a scorecard. One such possibility to assist you is to engage another professional merely for a second opinion. Make sure that your second opinion provider is a fiduciary, and acting in your best interests rather than trying to sell you something other than the advice of a second opinion.
Questions that you may ask yourself in this endeavor to ratify the team that you’ve built include questions about levels of communication, results, and subject matter expertise.
As for the level of communication, do you feel as if any of the professionals on your team need chasing? It is both unprofessional and unproductive to have people on your payroll that you have to always hunt down. All of the advisors on your team should be pro-active and make it their business to be sure that you are informed ahead of any anticipated needs or changes.
How did your team of subject matter experts perform for you last year or the year before? Most of you may be thinking about investment performance, but of course while that is important, there is still more. Did you owe more in taxes than your accountant led you to believe? Did your business documents get updated as the attorney recommended? Did your investment professional tell you that they don’t charge fees and proceed to invest your money in high commission products? Do you know how much you paid in fees or commissions last year? Did your insurance agent sell you a policy with gaps that left you under or uninsured for certain perils that struck last year? Were any of the team members uncooperative in collaborating with the other members of your team?
Even for families with an impressive list of credentialed professionals, you can’t just assume that everything is in place. This past year alone we saw several new situations where clients came in exclaiming that their estate plan was recently done. In some cases, the documents were never properly executed, funded and in some cases the documents were not appropriate for the circumstances.
Turnabout is fair play. Also evaluate yourself as a client of these professionals. Did you timely follow up on requests for information? Were you able to attend meetings? Did you pay your bills on time? Did you hold a family meeting to inform loved ones of any roles that they may play in your financial or estate planning affairs?
Here’s hoping that your team is a winner.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of US Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation. US Wealth Management and US Financial Advisors as well as LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.