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FINANCIALLY Speaking The Trip of a Lifetime P 1. Jeffrey M. Orth is a Chartered Financial Consultant, a Certified Advisor in Senior Living, and an Investment Advisor Representative, with over 15 years of experience as a business and personal planning, insurance, and wealth management specialist. Jeff is available for group lectures and private consultations. Visit ifitfinancial.com or call 408.842.2716. The author’s opinions, comments, information, etc. are those solely his own and are independent of, and do not represent, HTK, and should not be considered as specific investment or planning advice. Please consider your options based on your individual circumstances. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. gmhTODAY and other listed entities are independent of and unaffiliated with, HTK and Integrated Financial Benefits Network (IFit). 1975887RM-Dec19 24 lanning to travel? Well, you’ll need a clear idea of your destination, a map, a list of what you want to see and do, and an itinerary. When traveling to an unfamiliar destination, a guide who knows the area is also a good idea. If you think about your life as one long trip, you can apply these same principles to planning for your financial future. At some point, you may decide you want a professional financial planning ‘tour guide’ who can help you map out a path and to reach your goals. If you are just getting started, a financial advisor can guide you in putting together a plan that will make the most of your assets to help you reach your financial goals. Having an experienced advisor is especially important in planning ahead for the possibility of significant events or changes in life, such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, promotion or death of a family member. These events can have an impact on current plans and provide a catalyst to evaluate and adjust your current strategy going forward. Financial decisions can be difficult, but with an experienced financial advisor you won’t have to face them alone. Your financial ‘guide’ can help you gather information so that you can make a well-informed decision, and act as a coach to encourage you to do the things you need to do when they need to be done. An experienced advisor will encourage you to stay with your game plan in good times and bad. And like a manager, your advisor can help coordinate activities with your accountant, attorneys, and other service professionals. If you’ve even been on a trip with a tour guide, you know that a knowledgeable and experienced guide can make all the difference in the success and enjoyment of the trip. It’s important that you choose carefully. Here's what you should look for: Honesty and integrity I believe that this is such an important quality. If you have any reason to doubt that the advisor you’re talking to has your best interest as their primary concern, then I would not waste any time ascertaining if he/she has the other three essential qualities. Trust is too important a quality to be taken lightly. Capability Is the advisor well credentialed? In other words, are they serious about developing and maintaining the education and tools necessary to capably serve your financial planning needs? Ask about designations that the advisor has achieved and maintained. Ask about ongoing education efforts to stay current with changes in the industry. Believe it or not, there are people out there with few credentials and limited financial product options to offer, who are holding them- selves up as “advisors.” What that means to you is that no matter what your individual needs may be, they only have one product to sell. Instead, look for an advisor who is serious about education, with a variety of ‘tools in his or her tool box’, so that you have the option of selecting the best strategy for your unique situation. Longevity The financial planning business is not easy one. Most of the advisors that get into this business are gone within two years, and an even smaller number make it to five years. I am approaching two decades in this business, and I can tell you that few advisors who started when I did are still in the business. I would want the person who helped me set up my plan to still be around as the strategy plays out, and to have them there to assist me when inevitable course corrections are necessary. Compatibility In order to be effective, a financial planner is going to need to ask you a lot of questions, s