This post is written by Dean Vagnozzi, a veteran financial planner and a 15 year veteran of the financial services industry. Dean doesn’t believe in funding your 401K to the max and paying off your mortgage, but that’s the Dean Vagnozzi way—and it’s a strategy that is proving increasingly successful for his clients as he continues to grow and bring on hundreds of clients a year. We hope you enjoy his insight. Without further ado, please welcome the man that is single handedly changing the way we look at retirement, Dean Vagnozzi…
Without proper retirement planning, your retirement years could be a disaster. Unfortunately, all too many people are at a loss when it comes to retirement planning (See Dean’s take on retirement planning). They’re overwhelmed with options, unsure what they really need, and don’t fully understand the pros and cons presented by many retirement and financial planning professionals. Years later, all too many families find themselves in trouble: they haven’t saved nearly enough, they have unexpectedly large tax bills when they retire, or they have no idea how to go about accessing those vital retirement funds.
Planning for the future is more important than ever today—but if you don’t have any idea what you will really need when that day comes, you may find yourself struggling. Choosing the right financial advisor can make a big difference in your overall financial future and outlook.
The Advisor’s Financial Status
You may have heard the expression, “Never trust a skinny chef,” since chefs are eating their own cooking and if it’s good, they’ll probably be carrying some extra pounds. The same goes for your financial advisor: they’re likely following their own financial advice, and if it’s as good as they claim, their finances should be in fairly good shape. Take a look at your financial advisor’s status. You want two things: first and foremost, to find someone who is successful and able to grow your portfolio, and who has proven that success rate; and second, you want to know that your financial advisor isn’t counting on your money to ensure that his bills are paid.
The Right Setup
You’re going to put your financial advisor in charge of many of your financial decisions. In many cases, you will provide the firm with access to your accounts and your money. That means you want a firm set up for success, not a poorly constructed firm still operating out of someone’s basement or spare room. Keep a couple of things in mind.
Bureaucracy and red tape aren’t a good thing. When you have a great deal of red tape to go through every time you need to access your funds, it can take longer to make important financial moves, which could ultimately set you up for failure.
Look for an established firm with the backing needed to succeed. You don’t want a firm that’s just getting off the ground; instead, look for one with a proven investor base. This can ensure a more diverse platform and, ultimately, more security for your money and your financial decisions.
Find a firm whose primary allegiance is to its clients. Many financial advisory firms work directly with big banks and other businesses. While that can certainly provide the firm with a larger financial backing, it also means that, in many cases, the firm’s first loyalty is to those bigger businesses—even if it means potential detriments or losses to their customers. Instead, look for a firm committed to its clients first.
Talk Through Your Needs and Plans
Everyone’s financial situation is a little different from anyone else’s. You don’t want a cookie cutter plan designed to work for “anyone.” Instead, look for a firm that will come up with unique ideas, tailored specifically to you based on your long-term goals and current financial needs. You have unique income, bills, future plans and expectations. Make sure that the firm provides you with a plan tailored for you. Include:
- Your life plans
- The firm’s plans and philosophy
- Your risk tolerance
- Your preferred asset allocation
- Your financial goals
- Your capital needs
Ask About a Proven Track Record
Look at current accounts under management—with all identifying information removed, of course. You want to see what your financial advisors have been able to accomplish for other individuals: how they have taken their existing finances and made it possible for them to expand their investments and portfolios while still meeting their current financial goals. You don’t need to know all the details of the account—and the firm shouldn’t share it, since that’s private data—but you do want to see that the firm has a proven track record of success.
Consider Payment Methods
Many firms work on a base model that requires you to pay them a percentage of the money managed. Often, however, that’s not the best method you can use to achieve value from your financial advisor. Ultimately, you want your advisor to add more value than they cost you. Take a look at the firm’s payment arrangements and consider its value to you. If the firm isn’t adding adequate value, consider looking somewhere else for your financial needs.
Do Your Due Diligence
As with any time you hire someone to do work for you, you must consider the reality of both good and bad workers. There are some great financial advisors out there, but there are also some terrible ones who could cause serious problems with your future finances. Do your due diligence before you hire a new financial advisor. Make sure that you:
Ask for the advisor’s history. Get a verbal history, check the advisor’s website, and do a little research of your own. You can’t have too much information when it comes to the person who will be handling your money.
Check for all necessary licenses and insurance. You want a licensed advisor who carries insurance to protect themselves and their clients.
Look for a clear map of any fees associated with working with a particular advisor. Be wary of any advisor or professional who does not clearly disclose the cost to work with them. You may need to contact a financial advisor directly, rather than relying on a website to get that information; however, before you sign a contract, you should clearly understand all the expenses you’ll face.
You’ve worked hard for your money now. With proper planning, you can take full advantage of that hard work so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout your working years and into your retirement. You shouldn’t feel that you have to jump the gun and make a fast decision when the time comes to choose a financial advisor. Instead, take the right amount of time to consider your options and choose the right advisor before moving forward.
Meet Dean Vagnozzi
When you see a family member having unprecedented financial success through unique investment techniques and strategies, you want in on the game—and that’s exactly how Dean Vagnozzi got started.
After graduating from Albright College in 1990, Vagnozzi quickly discovered that the life of a traditional accountant wasn’t for him. While crunching numbers brought its own sort of pleasure, he didn’t want a boring life behind a computer screen. Instead, he wanted to interact more directly with people, providing them with increased financial opportunities. More importantly, he recognized the futility of the current retirement model and set out to improve on it, not only for himself, but for friends and family members, as well.
After watching the stock market decline for three consecutive years, his 401(k) declining along with it, Vagnozzi was ready for a different solution. Utilizing a $70,000 life insurance policy, he made his first investment in real estate. Within the first year, he had made $70,000 in profits.
With a strategy that seemed to be genuinely working, Vagnozzi continued his investment strategy, purchasing 15 more rental properties. His profits continued to increase as he learned more, both about the system and the opportunities available to him. Friends and family members wanted in, allowing him access to bigger investment opportunities through crowdsourcing—and he was able to help them reach their overall retirement goals, as well.
The 50-year-old president of A Better Financial Plan, LLC, now seeks to provide better investment opportunities for all of his clients, helping their money work for them now, in the present, rather than tying it up in plans that fail to help his clients meet their ultimate financial goals. Since 2010, the firm has invested more than $150 million for more than 1,000 clients—and Vagnozzi continues to see high levels of success for all his clients. His unique investment strategies and advice provide unprecedented financial opportunity, including paving the way for a retirement strategy better than most of his clients thought possible.
Vagnozzi, who lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and four children, is passionate about securing opportunities for his clients by using a real estate investment strategy that genuinely works. As an avid reader, he continues to pour over a variety of financial books and keeps up with the latest changes in the real estate industry, allowing him to continue to provide his clients with the advice they need.