Frequently Asked Questions.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

Those with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation have the most elite mark in their field of financial planning. CFP professionals must comply with the strict standards set forth by the Certified Financial Planner Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. CFP professionals are devoted to using the financial planning process to serve the best interest of individuals, families and businesses in need of financial planning.

To earn the prestigious CFP certification, individuals must complete a rigorous two-day comprehensive certification exam and have adequate work experience in a financial planning-related position. The CFP must complete 30 hours of continuing education study every two years to stay current in financial planning knowledge, including ethics.

Strategic Wealth Management Group employs several CFPs whooffer ethical and timely expertise.

When would someone need financial planning?

Most aspects of one’s life require professional financial planning at some point. The earlier one starts the planning process, the more effective the results become in the future.

Some life-triggering events that warrant planning include: a change in job, a new marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce, an inheritance, starting a new business, caring for aging parents or a disabled child, need for funding a child’s education, and many more. Strategic Wealth Management Group works with you through each stage of your life to provide appropriate planning strategies.

What is the financial planning process?

Financial planning is a process that you and your professional planner go through together to set realistic short- and long-term financial goals. In the first step, the planner will gather and analyze data pertinent to your overall financial situation. Then the planner will help you set realistic goals and prepare a list of recommendations to achieve optimum results. Once you have decided which recommendations to follow, the planner can help you implement the financial plan and provide periodic reviews and updates of the plan.

Strategic Wealth Management Group’s financial planning process is customized for each client. Your plan may include analysis of estate, tax, insurance, investment, and retirement issues.

Why do you need an estate plan?

Estate planning is becoming more important as the value of the average American estate grows. Home values have gone up, life insurance policy amounts have increased and retirement savings have become a priority in recent years. Also, the average family may be more vulnerable to taxes than it realizes, so proper planning is warranted.

There are several reasons to put an estate plan in place: to make sure your assets go where you want them to go at your death, to control assets while you are alive but incapacitated, to minimize the emotional and financial burden on your heirs, to increase the amount available for charitable donations, or to avoid the cost of distributing an estate through the courts.

Strategic Wealth Management Group works closely with your estate attorneys to make sure legal estate documents work in tandem with other elements of your financial plan such as investments, saving for retirement or putting children through college.

What is the difference between tax preparation and tax planning?

Tax preparation is when you sit down each year and discuss your previous year’s taxes with your accountant. By then it’s too late to take certain tax deductions and credits that should have occurred during the previous year.

Tax planning is something that is done throughout the actual tax year to potentially save taxes. Some tax-saving strategies may include: selling losing investments to offset other income, making certain retirement plan contributions, and taking advantage of medical and charitable deductions. Good year-round tax planning also requires good year-round record keeping. You need to be able to substantiate your claims to validate your deductions.

Strategic Wealth Management Group can be especially helpful in tax planning by coordinating with your accountant on your financial status throughout the year. Together, the appropriate tax strategies can be put in place to work for you.

What type of insurance do I need to protect my family and my assets?

Whether you are young and single, newly married, proud parents, empty nesters or retirees, most families will have an insurance need to, at some point, guard against the “what ifs” of life: a loss of a home, a death, an auto accident or a serious illness or disability. The purpose of insurance is to shift these major financial risks to insurance companies. Without adequate insurance coverage, you will pay out of your own pocket the cost of such financial hardship.

Insurance coverage costs are rising. The key is to buy only the right types and amounts of insurance at the right time. Strategic Wealth Management Group can analyze your insurance coverage to identify your specific coverage needs.

What is the difference between savings and investing?

Saving is setting money aside in a secure location for a certain need or desire. Saving is for smaller, near-term goals, such as the next family vacation, a car or financial emergency.

Investing entails putting money to work toward achieving a financial goal with the possibility of generating returns. Investing is for larger, longer-term goals at least five to seven years away, such as retirement or college. Investing carries risk, such as loss of principal or not earning as much as anticipated. But wise investing also provides a greater opportunity for earning a significantly higher rate of return over the long run than you can earn through savings.

Strategic Wealth Management Group specializes in the investment field. Our investment philosophy is pure, timely and has been tested and proven in various market environments. We can provide quality and thorough investment planning that is customized to meet your needs.

What is asset allocation?

One of the best ways to invest is to build an appropriate asset allocation for your investments. Asset allocation decisions are the most important steps in the investment process. To be most effective, a personal asset allocation should be tailored to your particular goals and needs.

Typically, asset allocations (portfolios) are made up of three main categories - stocks, bonds and cash, and various stock subcategories. Each main category is assigned a fixed percentage based on your preferred level of risk and goals.

A conservative portfolio would most likely contain more bonds and cash than stocks. A more aggressive portfolio might contain a higher percentage of stocks. Considerations such as current spending requirements, tax implications and inflation-adjusted returns may also be taken into consideration during the asset allocation process.

Strategic Wealth Management Group specializes in developing and monitoring asset allocation strategies through the years as your needs and goals change.

Can I afford to retire?

You are ultimately the only one who can decide if and when the time is right to retire. Those who are contemplating retirement should ask themselves these questions:

  • How much money do I need for retirement? Financial experts say you’ll need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement. However, if you expect to replace work-related expenses with travel, entertainment, or other activities, you may need more. With good health, your retirement could last 30 years or more, which increases the amount needed at retirement.
  • What's the cost of living where I plan to live? Will you be moving to another area where the cost of living is more or less expensive than where you are living today?
  • Will I have my mortgage paid off? Or will you downsize your residence?
  • Do I want to travel? If so, how much do you anticipate spending on this expense each year?
  • How much should I budget for medical expenses and/or insurance? Medical costs are rising and could be a large part of your retirement budget, which should be planned for properly.

Your answers to these questions and other questions are important in your retirement decision. They will help you decide how much money you'll need for the type of retirement lifestyle you want. By knowing how much money you can count on and how much you expect to spend, you can decide if you can afford to retire.

Strategic Wealth Management Group can provide a retirement analysis to help you determine the answers to these difficult, yet important, questions so that you can make the most prudent decision for this next stage in your life.