Are you looking to more effectively build and manage your wealth? These five tips have stood the test of time – and you can put them to use to improve your approach to wealth management today.
1. Plan (and stick to it).
All successful wealth management strategies begin with a plan. The alternative to planning, as the saying goes, is planning to fail.
A plan should begin with a detailed analysis of your current financial situation and goals. Working with a wealth manager can help to crystallize your objectives.
Remember: Investing is tricky, and even outperforming money mangers may only have 55-60% of stocks in their portfolios actually do better than the benchmark.
Outperforming the market tends to require a team of analysts and stock researchers for support – and, even then, it’s very difficult. Wealth management planning can help you to adopt a long-term perspective that will mitigate the risks of near-term volatility, allowing you to take advantage of more dependable and stable long-term investment returns.
By clarifying your objectives and the methods by which you’ll reach them, you can confidently act in the day-to-day. Crafting a well-thought out financial plan often brings to light valid objectives that are not solely about maximizing portfolio returns. Depending on the situation, the objective could be to minimize risks or enjoy life more fully.
However, just because you’ve created a long-term plan doesn’t mean you should stick to it blindly. Say, for example, you or a loved one gets sick, and you end up needing more money in the short-term; your investment philosophy would change accordingly. Plans should be long-term focused, but they should be re-evaluated as your circumstances change.
You can even build that reality into your plan.
2. Live within your means.
This tip isn’t exciting, but it’s important: Don’t spend money you don’t have.
We live in a world that idolizes tangible displays of wealth: the sports car, the house in the hills, or the lavish vacation. Spending on things that bring you happiness is good – but spending outside of your means will not bring long-term happiness.
I’ve seen individuals get acclimated to high portfolio returns (such as those achieved during the previous decade) and increase their spending using those “earnings” with the expectation that their future returns will be the same. Unfortunately – as we’ve seen this year – past performance is no guarantee of future return. And spending habits tend to change more slowly than the markets, meaning that it’ll be difficult to adjust your expenses in the event of a dip.
Don’t live outside of your means. Good wealth management plans include wise approaches to spending.
3. Invest early and often.
In keeping with our focus on long-term strategy, here’s another future-oriented wealth management tip to follow: Invest early and often.
It’s common knowledge, but it’s still counter-intuitive: The time value of money means that a person who starts early and puts in $5,000/year between the ages of 25 and 35 (10 years; $50,000 total investment) is projected to have approximately the same amount of money at retirement as someone who invests $5,000/year between the ages of 35 and 65 (30 years; $150,000 total investment) using the exact same investment return assumptions.
While there are obviously a variety of investment strategies (a wealth manager can help you to develop an approach that works for you), arguably the most important wealth-building tip is simply to invest. This is especially true in today’s world, where cash offers an investment return below the rate of inflation. If you keep your assets in cash, they’re depreciating in impactful terms over time.
That said, I nearly always recommend two things:
Pick low-hanging fruit
The best investments you can make tend to be the most obvious ones – the ones where the return is virtually guaranteed. For example, if your employer offers a match on your company’s 401(k), take it.
You may have a high degree of risk tolerance and assume that you’ll be able to stomach any downturn to capitalize on high-risk, high-return investments over a long time-horizon. But things can change – you or a family member could have an unexpected health issue, or your employment situation could be jeopardized, or there could be a global pandemic. I generally recommend investing for thoughtful diversification first, before pursuing high-risk, high-reward strategies.
4. Invest in yourself.
The best wealth management approaches include room for you to invest in yourself.
I recommend doing so in two ways:
“An investment in knowledge,” said Ben Franklin, “pays the best interest.” It’s true. Don’t be afraid to spend on continuing education and skill development for yourself. Books, classes, peer groups – education can increase your earning potential and upgrade your ability to manage your wealth wisely.
This is a category of self-investment that many high achievers struggle with. The goal of wealth building is not to collect material assets. It’s to build a happy life.
Often, I work with clients to craft wise approaches to spending on things that won’t bring a financial return but will bring a return of happiness. Sometimes, this is simply giving permission to spend on something like a vacation home or a family vacation. Sometimes, it’s helping to devise strategies for effective charitable giving.
Wealth management that doesn’t improve your happiness isn’t good wealth management.
5. Get experienced guidance.
I believe the best way to make your hard-earned financial assets work for you is to collaborate closely with a knowledgeable wealth management adviser that you trust.
As I’ve documented many times, there are measurable benefits to working with an advisor (and I believe the metrics understate the case). It’s helpful to have professional insights and an objective perspective as you craft your wealth management strategy.
If you’re looking to put these tips into action, let’s talk.
I’m the owner and sole practitioner here at Sapling Wealth. I have over 30 years of financial service experience, which has given me a deeper understanding of the risks and rewards of investing and familiarity within a broad range of financial service offerings. If you’re ready to improve your financial situation and reach your goals with thoughtful wealth management, we may be a good fit.
Schedule a review of your portfolio today, and let’s take the first step toward figuring out what’s best for you.