Reflections on our Independence

As we approach the two-year anniversary of becoming an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), I thought it made sense to reflect on the benefits of the change and summarize what has happened over the past 24 months.

You may recall that the change to RIA was intended to support us in maintaining our high fiduciary standard with limited conflicts of interest, give us more flexibility to choose the tools, resources, and business model that serves our client’s best interests, and more freedom in how we communicate with clients.

As an aside, Raymond James, our custodian, is somewhat unique in their open architecture, providing larger, growing firms like ours with the ability to operate as a fully independent RIA. That means we run our wealth management firm in the best interest of our clients as fiduciaries, while having full access to all the resources of Raymond James, a $1T+ in assets under advisement.

The following are some specific changes and improvements we have made.

Maintain our high fiduciary standard – This means that we always operate in the best interest of our clients. The move to RIA has enabled us to minimize or eliminate potential conflicts of interest, such as commissions on investments.

Flexibility to choose the tools, resources, and business model that serves our clients best. This means that we were able to design our own technology platform and have access to a greater variety of tools, especially on the financial planning front. For instance, we now employ more powerful financial planning software with more advanced tools for working with our most complex clients and simple, user-friendly tools for helping all clients model out or answer specific questions. Other tools include a tax planning system to support our comprehensive approach to tax planning, and our upgraded Client Relationship Management system that helps us more effectively manage our relationship and communications with you.

We have also added solutions to our investment management quiver:

  • Pontera – This tool enables us to provide direct management of a client’s outside 401(k), 403(b), or other type of retirement account, as well as 529’s and HSA’s. We are notified directly when there are changes to an investment line-up, can rebalance accounts on our client’s behalf and more.
  • TIAA-CREF and Fidelity – We now have access to manage client retirement accounts directly on these two platforms. This impacts educators, automotive employees, and anyone else who has a retirement plan through TIAA-CREF and Fidelity.
  • StoneCastle – Last quarter we added StoneCastle, an FDIC-insured (up to $25M) cash solution. It is a high yield account (currently 4.4%, net of fees), that requires a deposit of at least $100,000. One account, with access to more than nine hundred banks, enables us to provide an efficient and competitive cash solution with daily liquidity.

Freedom to tailor communications and add more vehicles. You may have noticed that we have several options for staying on top of financial and investment topics of interest to you. We have added our Word on Wealth podcast, covering topics such as buyouts and pensions, the SECURE Act 2.0, and more. We also provide a monthly newsletter with financial planning, market, and lifestyle information. Finally, value-add communications such as our client service calendar and beneficiary letter are being received with enthusiasm.

You may have also noticed our increased focus on snowbirds. That is people who typically move between homes in the south and the north. We have expanded that to include any client with multiple homes because all the aspects of planning (i.e., tax, healthcare, estate, insurance, cashflow, etc.) apply. We are also about to launch an increased focus on services for business owners. During every phase of business ownership, there are planning priorities that impact both the business and the individual/family. We have experience partnering with attorneys and CPAs on everything from benefits to succession and exit planning, and how it all impacts your personal financial plan.

There is more to come in the evolution of Stephens Wealth Management Group, and we are so glad you are on the ride with us.

Read more in our Newsletter

*Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Stephens Consulting, LLC, doing business as Stephens Wealth Management Group (SWMG), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Stephens Consulting. Please remember that if you are a SWMG client, it remains your responsibility to advise us, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, they are  encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. SWMG is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of SWMG’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. Links are being provided for information purposes only. SWMG is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. SWMG is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Important Disclosure.

Please Note: Stephens Wealth Management Group does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to SWMG’s website or newsletter or incorporated herein and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Browse by Category