What Makes Smith-Kastner Different?
A football team without a quarterback is unlikely to win many games. We believe the same is true of financial planning. Too often our clients, whether it be a family or a business owner, arrive at our doorstep with one person selling them insurance, another managing their investments, a CPA preparing tax returns, and an attorney handling their estate plan. But no one person is ensuring that all of the pieces fit together. Their financial team lacks a quarterback. And the results can be disastrous. Over our forty years of being in business, some of the most severe problems brought to our firm are the result of one advisor giving advice and taking action without considering (or understanding) the impact those actions have on the other areas of a client’s life.
At Smith-Kastner Wealth Management, we truly believe in a comprehensive and holistic approach to financial planning. Our advisors have gone above and beyond the basic licensing and education requirements to obtain professional credentials that cover all areas of financial planning, including insurance, investing, estate planning, and tax guidance. And every recommendation we make is done only after careful consideration of your entire financial life. It is not our intention to replace all of your existing financial advisors, but to enhance the value they bring to our clients and ensure they are all operating in harmony. That said, most of our clients do choose to have us provide insurance and investment management services, once they’ve see our capabilities.
And lastly, we are the only firm in the Auburn-Opelika area that has a dedicated estate planning attorney in our office. We believe we are unique in this respect, and our holistic approach to wealth management gives our clients an advantage that cannot be easily found elsewhere.
Financial Independence is the starting point for your Smith-Kastner Plan. Some people see financial independence as relying on income from different types of investments to have the freedom to do the things they like to do and are good at without the concern of having to earn a salary to maintain their lifestyle. Others might define it in terms of retiring from a business they own or from a high-level executive position, where the goal is to plan for a stress-free future. No matter how it is defined, financial independence requires comprehensive planning where financial, human, and social capital are protected, managed, and maximized to provide income for a lifetime and to ensure that wealth is transferred when and how the owner wants and to whom the owner wants it to go. At Smith-Kastner Wealth Management, our team of experts in the areas of business planning, financial planning, investments and wealth management, insurance solutions, and life and legacy planning work side by side to provide clients with the solutions that are in their best interest for making the most of their financial independence. This way clients can enjoy all of their other wealth even more, including the wealth that comes from human, social, and cultural capital.
Legacies are about how one lives, not about what one leaves when they are gone. What is left can help a person’s legacy live on, but will not define it. The freedom that comes with financial independence provides opportunity for further cementing a legacy or to start building a more purposeful one. Often people are aware of the kind of legacy they want to have and they act accordingly. In other instances, people have very hectic lives and are too busy with the day-to-day to think about the impact they have on others and on the world. Also, some clients might find themselves overwhelmed by the reality of their financial independence because it has come all at once after many years of work, or unexpectedly as in the case of some inheritances or another kind of windfall. The Smith-Kastner process is designed to guide clients in defining their own legacies from whatever their starting point may be. Including legacy in the planning process produces unique and personal results for clients because it incorporates their own life-story, beliefs, and circumstances.
Our process at Smith-Kastner will help clients make an inventory of all their sources of wealth, accounting for everything from investment portfolios, interests in investment partnerships, and art or other type of collections to business interests, intellectual property, and real estate and mineral interests (to name only a few). It also uses quantitative and qualitative values for wealth that come from human, social, and cultural capital. The process at Smith-Kastner includes steps to ensure that clients’ wealth transfer plans incorporate considerations for transferring values and traditions, while not compromising the client’s financial independence. Smith-Kastner plans provide clarity to complex household balance sheets that often includes business interests and/or stock options and contribute to providing certainty and peace of mind around preserving financial independence. This further enables clients to commit to and be passionate about taking steps to transfer wealth as part of their living legacy and in preparation for the distribution of their estate as well. Smith-Kastner plans include wealth transfer plans that reflect and respond to the client’s goals, protects them from potential liabilities and, as applicable, includes communication with family members and other potential beneficiaries.
The Smith-Kastner process involves eight steps that are adaptable to suit each client’s specific needs:
Every successful endeavor requires complete and accurate information. That is why Smith-Kastner’s planning process begins with an exchange of historical, qualitative, and quantitative information.
Human Capital Diagnostic
Using proven systems and tools, the next step is to assess our clients’ personal strengths andtalents as part of the process of assessing the value of their human capital, and to understand how their life experiences influence their instinctive approach to finance and money. This step will involve understanding the family dynamics around wealth as applicable.
Financial Capital Analysis
Using the results of the Human Capital Diagnostic, we are better able to delve into the financial reality and complexity of our clients. The Financial Capital Analysis helps us to develop the Financial Independence Policy Statement.
Strategic Financial Independence Allocations
The Financial Capital Analysis provides a path leading to:
A. Strategic Choices of Risk Management Techniques
B. Strategic Choices of Tax Minimization Techniques
C. Strategic Choices of Insurance Managment
D. Strategic Gifting and Philanthropic Techniques
Your Smith-Kastner plan, and Financial Independence Policy Statement
The result is a life and legacy plan that we call a Smith-Kastner Plan, as well as a Financial Independence Policy Statement for implementation and management of the plan and all of its parts. The plan is a dynamic and living document that serves as the guideline for financial decisions using solutions that are appropriate for the different stages of a client’s life and tailored to the client’s unique circumstances, beliefs, values, personal lifestyle and life purpose.
Total Quality Care and Implementation
The implementation phase requires a consult with the client’s other advisors, including the tax professional and estate planning attorney. During this stage, the following steps are complete with meticulous attention to detail.
- Portfolio Construction
- Product Selection
- Account Funding
- Gift Distribution Schedule
Total Quality Management
Smith-Kastner is committed to providing total quality management of the plan using the Financial Independence Policy Statement to monitor and measure performance in the following areas:
- Investment Management
- Insurance Management
- Family Meetings and Philanthropy Management
Authentic Care Management
Smith-Kastner is dedicated to providing and delivering all of its services using rigorous standards of care that seek to demonstrate the importance and value of each individual client, and to exceed the expectations of service and quality. Step 8 appropriately represents the “infinite” aspect of authentic care, meaning that it begins at the first contact a client has with Smith-Kastner and does not end when a plan is created or a service is provided. It is a continuous loop that demonstrates the authentic care we have for the people who entrust us with the intimate aspects of their financial lives. We cannot guarantee results (we suggest “running in the other direction” from anyone who guarantees results), but we can guarantee care that leads to better outcomes and less errors.