As we begin the new year fresh from celebrating with our family and friends, I imagine just about everyone reading this has resolved to eat less, exercise more, and spend more time with family in 2017. Each of us, no doubt, has some goal in mind that we’ll either stick with or abandon in the coming weeks.

No matter the objective, early-stage momentum when one’s desire for change is strong is important to harness, but the big key to long-term success is having a clear, concrete, and actionable plan, particularly when it comes to money and wealth.

Perhaps some of you have made a commitment to pay closer attention to and better manage your personal wealth and investment portfolio in 2017. If so, I applaud you. There’s no better time than now to sit down with your team and do just that!

WealthCare in 2017

If you attended NoteExpo last year, you may have heard me use the phrase “WealthCare.” Just like with our health, which we value as highly as anything, our wealth needs an annual check-up, too. In THIS afternoon’s webinar, we will be discussing the topic in during our new Industry Expert Webinar Series. Register now for the Industry Experts Webinar at Wed, Jan 4, 2017 1:00 PM-2:00 PM PST.

Here’s what “Dr. Ryan” thinks you should consider including in your WealthCare Check-up…

1. Take Stock of Your Current Capital Deployment Budget

Here, I’m talking about that amount of your wealth setting in cash earmarked for a specific purpose, or currently un-deployed. We should always look for optimal capital deployment and avoid having our capital setting idle.

What we don’t want to do is start off the year with a negative deployment amount (i.e., un-deployed capital).

Idle capital is one of the leading drags on your portfolio that can reduce your overall return for the year. I encourage you to take stock of what amount you have deployed. Get with your team to find out what those opportunities are, given your risk tolerance, and outline the objectives for your investments.

2. Identifying Potential Liquidity Events

The topic of liquidity events often dovetails into the theme of un-deployed capital. Hopefully the latter was due to the former and not merely to poor planning.

A valuable part of being able to take stock of your wealth during your annual review is trying to forecast what time in the year you will experience a liquidity event. It’s not always possible to pinpoint the exact moment when that will happen but you may have a general idea that allows you to make plans for that purpose.

If you know that a company you’ve invested in may go public in June, you may discuss this with your advisors to look for your next capital deployment opportunity. For your deal operators, this will be helpful when it comes time for such a liquidity event. They can plan and anticipate and make their own adjustments in an effort to best accommodate you. Anticipating your upcoming liquidity dates should be part of the review process.

3) Setting Goals (“If you don’t know where you’re going…”)

One of the elements I’m constantly amazed by when talking to club members and investors about their goals for the year is how those goals are vaguely formulated or simply nonexistent. Having clear, concrete goals helps you stay laser-focused on the actual tactical strategies that can make those goals a reality.

As you sit with your advisors, being able to articulate your goals to them is critical. Of course, some advisors may not be able to understand your goals in the first place, so it may become necessary to take stock of whom your advisors are and whether replacing them should be a goal in its own right.

4) Reviewing Your Goals

You need to pay constant attention to your goals throughout the year. You know the chance of success with most resolutions is low. Consequently, we all must be vigilant with our goals. Your vigilance may include periodic face-to-face meetings with all the players on your wealth team. Most of our members realize that having at least a quarterly check-in creates the possibility that their goals will be met (including the inevitable course corrections). Put this on your calendar now.

5) Additional Tactical Moves

There are additional tactical moves to consider during your Goal Review meetings. Here are several you might look at:

  • Maximizing your contributions to tax qualified accounts, including your IRAs and HSAs. Don’t forget you’re still eligible to make a contribution to your IRA (including non-deductible IRAs) as well as your health savings account (HSA), assuming you have a qualified high-deductible health plan to go along with it.
    *Keep in mind that not only is the part that you contribute to your HSA tax deductible, the earnings are also tax-deferred, and what you withdraw for qualified expenses is tax free. That’s a beautiful trifecta! The best part is that your HSA can be self-directed just like the retirement accounts you likely have.
  • Check your Requirement Minimum Distributions (RMD) for your age. One key is strategizing with your team of advisors in order to determine where to take those RMDs from.
  • Another key element to consider is that of beneficiary designations. There are many types of accounts which have beneficiaries attached to them, including insurance policies. Who are your primary and contingent beneficiaries? Other assets to review include your bank accounts, tax-qualified accounts like IRAs, and employer-sponsored retirement plans. Finally, you should be sure to review your heirs in your overall estate plan.
  • Optimize your credit for future lending needs. When was the last time you checked your credit report? There are very unique ways to be able to utilize your credit, if you have a plan in place. Many high net worth investors don’t need to utilize credit to get credit, but it can enhance more desirable credit opportunities if you have taken advantage of it.
  • Review your overall profit and loss statement. I know budgeting is not a fun process to go through, but it’s an area with your wealth that, if handled with care and discipline, can result in additional assets on your balance sheet.
  • Get your financial documents in order. As high net worth investors, we often have an overwhelming number of documents in our portfolio, so taking a look at some of the most critical ones is key. Key ones to review include estate planning documents, particularly your power of attorneys and medical directives. Finally, if you’ve gone through any major life events, it may be time to update your trust and wills.
  • Look over your balance sheet for liquidity events. Is your balance sheet updated to reflect these events? If you have self-directed accounts, your custodian will be asking for fair market valuations for reporting purposes. If you are active with self-directed capital, this is especially critical.
  • Make charitable deductions. Whatever “charity” means to you, assess whether you accomplished your giving goals last year. If you did, congrats! There are so many opportunities for us to help those who are less fortunate. Likewise, we must plan charitable giving to benefit our tax situation. Having a charitable giving plan is important; it’s equally important to evaluate things in order to reap the highest amount of benefits.

Let’s make 2017 the best it can be!

My main message here is that a lot goes into your WealthCare Plan review. Just like a vow to eat better and exercise more, it’s the consistent follow-up that makes – or breaks – your new habit. Set yourself up for success by setting clear goals, making a plan to work with your wealth advisors on a regular basis, and committing to conferring with your high net worth friends and colleagues about topics of wealth just like you do with health.

Here’s to an abundant New Year!

All the best,

Ryan Parson, MBA, ChFC, CFP®
Heritage Capital USA

P.S. My next, in our series of Industry Expert Webinars, will be addressing WealthCare. Register now for the Industry Experts WebinarTHIS AFTERNOON, Wed, Jan 4, 2017 1:00 PM-2:00 PM PST.

If you would like to learn more about the Mile Marker Club and how it addresses where alternative investments meet your wealth accumulation and preservation goals, register now for the Informational Webinar for the Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 11:00-12:00 PM PST, webinar or other upcoming webinars.

@MileMarkerClub @HCUSA2012


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