Year end is a great time to reflect, celebrate milestones and set the tone for the upcoming year. Despite continued disruption and uncertainty in 2023, whether in the markets, geopolitically or in your own personal lives, we want to examine the most distinctive aspect: the human element.
The emergence of AI proved to be a major disruptor globally but also in the financial service industry. For me, it felt reminiscent of 2008 when the robo-advisor was introduced and there was panic in the industry about human advisors being replaced by this technology. I think that both platforms serve a purpose and can handle the quantitative side of financial planning, but neither can address the qualitative side of building meaningful client relationships and the benefits that come from understanding what’s truly important for each client. These platforms make predictions or recommendations based on the information provided to them. But, as I tell clients all the time, when faced with a decision there is the financial answer and there is the solution that isn’t going to keep you up at night. A very simple example is paying off a mortgage. Many clients are debt averse or simply just want to pay off their mortgage. Often paying off the mortgage isn’t the mathematically correct answer but a good financial decision for the client whose overall stress will decrease.
I see these technologies adding value by optimizing current service offerings and providing a more personalized experience for customers.
At SMB, we subscribe to 15 various technologies - some we use internally and some we use in collaboration with you. To continue to innovate and improve the client service experience, we introduced two new tech offerings this year: Holistiplan and PreciseFP.
Holistiplan: We understand that taxes may not be the most exciting topic, but they do present a fantastic opportunity for us to reassess and refine your overall financial strategy. Holistiplan uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to read a tax return and identify tax planning strategies. By leveraging this technology, we can maximize your tax deductions and minimize your tax liability. We piloted this technology with some clients this year to give us a chance to learn how to use it and will send an email offer in April 2024 to review your 2023 return.
PreciseFP: Precise FP is the newest addition to our tech stack. I learned about it at LPL’s Focus conference in August and implemented it immediately upon my return. The purpose of this software is to help us be more efficient in collecting data from you. Previously, we used a basic questionnaire that was emailed as a word document; this often proved to be tricky for clients to enter and transmit their information. Precise FP is seamless in that it flows through each section for you, you can log in and out of your form as needed, and you’re able to upload documents easily and securely.
We are proud to share that we now serve three generations of families! Unlike other financial planning firms, we do not have a minimum investable asset requirement and will happily help your grandchild, daughter, son, niece or nephew. We see these individuals as an extension of you and your financial plan and one more way to add financial security for you knowing that your loved ones are doing the right things and are being given sound advice (not something they saw scrolling Tik Tok!).
So many of you have shared with me that you wish that you had started working together earlier. Sharing that wisdom is a great gift that you can give to your next generation, who as they increasingly build and inherit wealth – and as their lives become more complex – won’t have the time, knowledge or desire to create and monitor their own financial plans.
In 2024 I will celebrate my 19th year as a financial advisor! SMB has grown because of your continued trust and introductions of friends, family, and co-workers. We love the fact that every client knows at least two or three other clients! It has fostered a wonderful sense of community within the SMB eco-system, and this is something that we intend to continue to nurture.
In my 2022 year end letter, I shared that I will be shifting some of my responsibilities to focus on the macro parts of the business. This meant that you found yourself interacting more with Liana, who helped you:
- Schedule/reschedule a meeting
- Open a new account
- Initiate and follow up on transfers
- Update checking/savings account information
- Change beneficiary designations
Liana has proven to be a quick learner, a self-starter, and very capable. We are excited to share that she will start her licensing process in 2024! Having her license will allow her to take on additional responsibilities and provide greater service to SMB clients.
We are proud of the positive impact that we have on our clients’ lives and decided to take it a step further this year by giving back to charities. Here's a glimpse into the wonderful initiatives we've been honored to contribute to:
- Rosie's Place: A beacon of hope and support for women in need, Rosie's Place was the first recipient of our charitable efforts. We made a monetary donation that was matched by LPL Financial.
- More Than Words: Books have the power to change lives, and our partnership with More Than Words reflects our commitment to literacy and empowerment. Through your support, we helped provide opportunities for at-risk youth to develop critical skills and build a brighter future.
- Toys for Tots: The joy of giving knows no bounds, especially during the festive season. Our collaboration with Toys for Tots will bring smiles to the faces of children, ensuring the magic of the holidays.
For those who donated books and toys, thank you! Your support has touched lives and brought smiles to those in need. This journey of giving has been more than just a charitable endeavor; it's a testament to the strength of our collective compassion. As we step into the New Year, let's carry forward the spirit of giving, kindness, and community!
Ending on a Memorable & Meaningful Note
We created a fun year end video to help us celebrate and commemorate some of the highlights of 2023! Throughout the year, many of you shared pictures of important updates in your life - mostly consisting of family and travel. Here are a few highlights! Enjoy!