3 Steps That Simplify Your Investment Life

John Osbon - September 30, 2015

It happens every time. A new client entrusts Osbon Capital with investment management of all their accounts. The clients are smart, capable, successful people who expect the best for themselves. But when they show us all their accounts… they are a mess!  Here are the three most common scenarios we see and how to fix them.

Stop the self-inflicted complicationSimplicity-is-the-ultimate-form-of-sophistication-quote-by-Leonardo-da-Vinci
It’s all your fault. Actually, it’s not but it looks like it is. Complicating actions (and inactions) just happen over time, and suddenly you don’t really have a good idea how much money you actually have, where it all is or if it is working for you. Here are the signs:

  • Too many accounts
  • Duplicate accounts
  • Orphan accounts
  • Left-behind 401(k) plans
  • Legacy accounts for….what purpose?
  • Underinvested accounts

Most individuals and families only need four kinds of accounts:

  • An individual account
  • A joint account
  • A trust account(s)
  • An IRA and a Roth IRA

Simple is better and so is fewer. We’ve noticed clients tend to accumulate duplicate IRAs (you only need one). Ditto for excess individual accounts. To simplify, start with an inventory of all you have and systematically close and consolidate accounts. Your investment advisor can lead the way for you.

Lift the information blackout
This is an easy change. Share your investment information with your other experts – the two key advisors who can help you make good decisions in your best interest. Those two experts are your tax lawyer and your will/trust lawyer. Your investment advisor can and should link those experts to your investment data so they can give you their best advice. Our clients do so through the Osbon Capital Portal. It has all relevant information, held securely, updated daily and available 24/7. If you have privacy or security reasons to restrict or control access we can do that for you. Again, look to your advisor for the solution.

Know your numbers
If your accounts are complicated and scattered, it’s very difficult to know or evaluate their overall performance. Nevertheless, every investor should know his or her “one big number” that captures all assets, no matter who manages them or where they are held. How can you make good decisions without this information? Our portal consolidates all your performance data (daily), not just for accounts held at Osbon Capital, but for all accounts. There are many metrics you can use to evaluate your progress (cash flow, taxes, allocation, gain/loss and more). Pick the numbers that are meaningful for you. Once again, this is a service you should expect from your advisor.

The payoff on simplicity
Since you can ask your advisor to implement these three steps on your behalf you are now free to ask the important questions, such as:

  • Am I getting enough return for my risk? (show me)
  • How are you increasing my returns by cutting taxes and expenses? (show me)
  • What rate of return should I expect?
  • How is my portfolio built today to withstand a (pick a topic: recession, inflation, crash, rising/falling rates, and so on)
  • Topics unique to you

It gets better starting today
It’s natural to procrastinate on big projects like investment simplification and consolidation. But don’t hesitate. Start now. Assign the work to your advisor, sit back and reflect on your situation, and get ready for that first ‘”my strategy meeting” that gives you control over your money. The three steps above will definitely jumpstart the process.

John Osbon – josbon@osboncapital.com

 

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