At Harford Financial Group, we believe in a Japanese principle called Kaizen. Kaizen is constant and never-ending improvement. We believe that you as our clients are the heroes in your own story of your life and we are there to help on that journey as a guide particularly in the financial area. It is sort of like you are the Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia and we hope to be one of the guides like Obi Wan, C3PO, R2D2, and others. In the last several years, we have integrated two philosophies and concepts in how we serve our clients: (1) Life Centered Financial Planning and (2) Holistic Financial Planning. We want to work in our communications on giving you clarity why we do what we do it and why we think it benefits you. Going forward we will continue to expand on these topics.
We feel that of all the things that we do life centered financial planning is the most important. Traditionally, our profession has attracted “numbers people”, folks who love numbers and investing. That was initial appeal for me. As a kid, I used to memorize baseball statistics and calculate them in my head. As a result, our initial attraction is to dive into the numbers and quantitative side of financial planning. Unfortunately, that approach can be boring, intimidating, overwhelming to a lot of folks. The most important thing for us is to understand what is important to you as our clients, the key people in your life, what motivates you, what gives you meaning and purpose, what the money is for and the goals you have for yourself and family. Money is certainly important in our lives because it helps us fund and support our lifestyle. However, there is no universal way that people look at it, feel about it, and what it means and symbolizes for them. Big mistakes that many financial planners make is that everyone is motivated by more and that the way they look at money is the way everyone looks at money. For us, a central tenet is that the goals are first for people then the plan and then finally the investments and products. A lot of folks in our profession are much more product and sales oriented and try to fit the products and services they sell into a one-size fits all. Fundamentally, we want you to think of your money as merely a tool to help you live the life you want to live and make the most of the time that you have to have loving relationships, experiences, and pursue of life of meaning and purpose.
Another core concept and belief we follow is holistic financial planning. We recognize for a lot of folks that this might not be a concept that is well explained. Plus, it is a term that may sound a little misaligned with financial planning. Holistic financial planning is a more comprehensive way in working with clients. To better understand it, you have to understand how our profession evolved. 50 years ago, there were very few financial planners. Folks were either life insurance salesman or stock brokers. They were much more product centric and they tended to be more siloed in their expertise. Over last 50 years there have been a lot of good folks who are pushing our profession forward to be more professional and act in our fiduciary manner like medical, accounting, engineering, and other more mature professions. They have made a lot of progress but there still is a long way to go. Unlike the accounting world, where the Certified Public Account or CPA designation has universally looked upon for a long time as the major credential, the financial professional world is still working on wide spread credentialing process. The closest thing we have is the Certified Financial Planner or CFP designation. It is looked upon as one of top universal designations. The reason is that for people to use the designation they have to have training and pass tests in general financial planning, retirement savings and income planning, taxation, investments, risk management and insurance, and estate planning. T
This is what holistic planning is all about. Having expertise on a wide variety of areas instead of being a product pusher. The analogy we use is like a medical doctor. Even though a doctor may specialize in one particular area, they have to be well versed in the whole body because pain in the foot may be caused by something with the heart. Holistically a financial planner may be advising on a certain investment but they should know the tax, risk, and estate planning implications of those decisions and factor that into the decision making. Myself and Melissa both have worked to have this designation and our associates, Bryce and Michael are working towards this. We are going to make this a requirement for all new financial planners. We feel it provides a level of professionalism and expertise our clients need and to take it deeper we dive even further on all of this like topics like Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and other topics in which our clients have questions and need help.
We feel that life centered financial planning and holistic financial planning is the right thing for our clients and is the best way to serve. As we talk to folks they value the planning so much more than just general product knowledge. If you have questions or comments or need assistance, please contact me at 410-838-2992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.