The Investment Scientist

How Can I Help You in 2012

Posted on: January 3, 2012

A few days ago I got a call from someone who needs financial help. He is a typical middle class person, making a middle class wage, and has not saved a lot of money.

How Can I Help?

In the past, I would have gently turned him away: “Sir, my practice has a limited capacity of serving only 50 clients. To make the most of it, I only work with doctors and small business owners who have at least $500k in investable assets or a combined household income of $400k and above.”

Maybe it’s because of my newborn son’s sickness, but I did not say no this time. I took him through the discovery process to find out where he was financially, what he wanted to achieve, and how he planed to get there.

I was able to quickly help him identify holes and gaps in his personal finances:

  1. He is funding his children’s education using custodial (UTMA) accounts. With these types of accounts, he will lose control of the money as soon as his children turn 18. On top of that, they will make it harder for their children to get financial aid.
  2. He is paying too high a rate on his mortgage. A refi would save him thousands of dollars.
  3. He is not maximizing his tax deductions. He could open two IRA accounts and deduct up to $5,000 each for him and his wife, saving them thousands in taxes.
  4. He does not have sufficient disability insurance. His family would be in a bind financially if he got run over by a bus.
  5. His financial advisor from a major insurance company is advising him to invest in expensive annuities and permanent life insurance. I pointed him in the direction of Vanguard for investments.

When all is said and done, it took me only 26 minutes. Though I did not make any money from the time I spent, I accepted his gratitude and I felt happy and energetic.

How can I help you with your personal finances and investment in 2012? You don’t have to be my ideal prospect to schedule an appointment with me.

Get my white paper: The Informed Investor: 5 Key Concepts for Financial Success.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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