Control. Transparency. Stability.
Three Imperatives to Expect in Your Financial Alliances
Between banks, insurers, credit unions, investment companies, savings and loan associations, mutual fund complexes, brokerage firms and the like, multitudes of financial services providers in the U.S. offer a vast array of investment products. Given so many choices, “where to begin?” is the first question. Determining which providers to work with for your personal financial needs is quite a challenge.
Some may think it comes down to particulars such as interest rates and product features. And all good places to start. But they’re not where to stop.
As in any relationship, financial or otherwise, it’s important to take a closer look. In this case it means scanning the marketplace for companies that embody certain philosophies, ones incorporating core qualities that best serve their customers in the long run. To inspire confidence in the management of your hard-earned money, three fundamental qualities stand out as ones a financial services provider should exemplify. Let’s examine them.
Maintaining the degree of control over your money and investment decisions that most closely suits you is one of your smartest moves when pursuing your financial strategies.
Investment decisions are only one element of plotting and pursuing your financial course of action. A comprehensive money management approach encompasses maintaining access and control to manage your investments over time and through risks. The world changes, we see it every day. Markets go up and down. Unanticipated events can and do occur. All this can change a person’s thinking on what’s right for their financial future.
Investments that are inflexible limit your ability to react to evolving needs and shifting financial conditions. Worse yet, investments with contractual provisions that divert you in a different direction from your original choices in effect remove control from your hands. Under such a scenario, you may find your initial plans reoriented in directions you never intended or anticipated.
Selecting products and choosing companies that provide you with your desired degree of control of your financial future is a foundation in maintaining your financial security. After all, if you don’t have control of your money, is it really your money?
Many pundits and periodicals make their living loudly rendering judgment on what financial products to purchase or avoid. But for all their specific recommendations and cautions, the real answer is much broader yet quite a bit simpler.
Avoid any financial product you do not understand. Put another way, transparency is imperative for any product a client considers.
Are there financial products in the marketplace right now that ultimately will not live up to expectations — or worse? Sure. But the truth is, any product can be a potential pitfall if you don’t understand how it works, how it benefits you, and conversely, how it limits you.
Before you put your money down on any financial decision, ask questions. Then ask more questions. If you don’t perform your due diligence, a product that might be a dream solution to others could be a nightmare to you. And vice versa.
That’s also why it is important to work with companies that are transparent in their dealings. Companies that readily furnish you all the information you request and then some, in a clear, concise fashion. Companies that are proud to share their history, affiliations, practices and financials.
A transparent company accepts responding to such queries as a fundamental responsibility of maintaining the confidence of its customers.
In addition to control and transparency, the third imperative in any financial alliance is stability. A company will have a hard time providing customers a secure financial future, unless it has one itself.
Many organizations “talk a good game” when it comes to strength, security and stability. But are they in a position to back it up?
Financial stability can be judged by internal measures, such as the length of a company’s operating history and the adequacy of its capital position. It can also be assessed by external sources, such as high industry and financial ratings.
These factors help demonstrate a company’s resolve and resiliency, both now and throughout challenging economic times. They are proof points providing assurance that their contractual commitments can be depended on to provide peace of mind.
Control. Transparency. Stability.
It’s been said the problem we face in today’s world isn’t information overload, rather the problem is filter failure. Our challenge as informed consumers is to identify what matters most.
Trust your judgment in protecting your self-interest. We believe the characteristics of control, transparency and stability provide benchmarks by which to separate a good financial services organization from a great one.
Control, transparency and stability and what they mean for you are far too personal to be judged from a company’s advertising or public relations. Business practices, product designs and professional relationships are the difference-makers that become apparent as you take a deeper look at a potential partner in securing the long-term financial well-being of you and your loved ones.
© 2011 Western & Southern Financial Group. All rights reserved. Permission to quote or cite from this material is granted upon request. To obtain permission to do so, or for additional insights on this topic, please contact us.