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In my previous four posts I introduced my guiding principles of wealth management, along with the first four principles (links to one, twothree and four). Today I will discuss the fifth and last guiding principle:

Be specific and proactive by identifying and implementing the actions that will result in the best permanent changes

PrintOver the years, I have had the privilege of observing how clients meet challenges and tackle opportunities. Some have a knack for succeeding in any task they take on, while others seem to struggle more than they need to. Eventually, I saw a key distinction between these two groups: Successful people are usually very specific and proactive, while those who struggle tend to be vague and reactive. They set goals, but they do not follow through with a plan of specific actions aimed at meeting those goals. Consequently, instead of controlling events, they wind up responding to events. Getting stuck in reactive mode is another example of the 85% Trap.

By contrast, when successful people see a need or set a goal for themselves, they develop a specific plan of action. In keeping with the concept of the Essential 15%, they strive to find a permanent solution to every challenge, as opposed to a solution that requires ongoing effort.

In a previous post I introduced my set of five guiding principles for managing finances, the first of which was “Make Your Balance Sheet Your Friend.” Today I will discuss the second principle:

Compare your finances to standards of excellence and use them to make enhancements

Apple Orange

When people with wealth describe to me how they view their current position, they use a wide variety of yardsticks to measure themselves. Some are troubled because they are comparing their finances to friends, family, or associates who appear to be much better off. Others are troubled because they have lost a large portion of their net worth through market declines, bad investments, or business setbacks.

It is more common, though, to meet people who feel quite confident and secure because they’re doing much better than they imagined they would when they were younger. Their confidence may be fueled by the good opinion of others around them, since wealthy, successful people are often accorded tremendous respect and kid-glove treatment.

There is nothing wrong with these benefits of success, but you can’t allow them to lull you into false assumptions about your financial position. If you want to know where you really stand in terms of financial strength, you need to employ objective standards of excellence.

In this article, I will discuss what I call the first guiding principle for managing wealth:

Make your balance sheet, cash flow, and portfolio your friend

Accounting

There is a critical distinction between possessing a high net worth and having a strong balance sheet, cash flow, and portfolio. Problems in these three areas can give rise to huge frustrations and mistakes. The predicament of a gentleman I’ll call “Harry” illustrates this point.

In terms of net worth, Harry was in an excellent position, with total assets valued at somewhere north of $60 million. I would have thought it safe to assume that his balance sheet, cash flow, and portfolio were spectacular, but that was not the case. A very high percentage of his assets was locked up in a private company he owned, or in his homes and other personal property. In fact, when I first met him, his liquid and semi-liquid assets were not sufficient to sustain his rate of spending for much longer. Though he had a $3 million portfolio, he was beginning to tap it at an unsustainable rate. Harry was wealthy and he felt wealthy, but he was heading toward an inevitable cash crunch.

Part of Harry’s problem was that he needed to be more cost conscious. A lot of his cash flow problems came down to over-paying for various goods and services. His mortgage payments were much higher than they needed to be. He was bleeding cash in the form of high brokerage fees. He was paying far too much for financial advice and services that were focusing on the 85% Trap and missing the Essential 15%.

Wealthy families or their advisors rarely appreciate hearing the term “generation-skipping transfer tax” (GSTT) The nuances of this specific tax law can be quite complicated, but there’s a reason Brady Blog 04.07.16for it: families and individuals often enjoy giving from one generation to the next, and the GSTT offers a fixed rate that ensures such gifts are taxed appropriately.

There is a recent study from Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, an estimated $59 trillion will be transferred from 2007 to 2061. While not all of that is subject to the GSTT, it does illustrate how important such a tax is today – and will become for the future (simplistically thinking about our federal deficit and the upward trending expectations for servicing our debt through higher taxes—the government will get their cut!).

It’s been an annual tradition of mine to put something special together to share with clients and friends for the new year. This year, the theme is “The Big Breakthrough” and it includes three powerful tools for mastering time, focus and wealth. Watch the video presentation and download the companion worksheets below:



Big Breakthtrough Download now

File Cabinet - JaniczekI’m excited. I just upgraded my personal finance organization system and, by far, it’s the most complete, accessible, secure system supporting my efforts to be a great steward of our financial resources.

I want everyone reading this blog post to know that I have personally utilized and reviewed many, many methods of organization over the years. My observation is that most people either lack an organized system or have something too complicated, costly and/or time consuming to serve them. I hope my sharing this inspires ideas for upgrading what you have supporting you.

My system is super-simple, super-accessible, super-secure and takes hardly any time or money to maintain. Sound interesting? Read on.

Here’s a summary of the system, organized into a handful of rules:  


*Ranked/Named among Top, Best and Most Exclusive Advisors sources: Barron's March 2016, 2015, 2014; Advisory HQ March 2016; Financial Times June 2015; Five Star Professional November 2015, 2013, 2012,2011, 2010, 2009; Mutual Funds Magazine January 2001; NABCAP September 2010, 2011, 2013; Worth Magazine July 2002, January 2004, October 2004, October 2008; Wealth & Finance International, October 2014. Rankings and/or recognition by unaffiliated rating services and/or publications should not be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if Janiczek & Company, Ltd. is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services, nor should it be construed as a current or past endorsement of Janiczek & Company, Ltd. by any of its clients. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser.

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