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Stewardship

As a financial advisor for over 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of families, helping each to define their financial goals and designing the plan to help them achieve those goals.  I have lived in Dallas for the majority of my life and am very active in helping our community through various organizations.  In this volunteer capacity, I get to meet lots of interesting people outside of my work life.  But I’ve recently become attuned to a comment from more than one of my colleagues, generally along the lines of… “I know you work in financial services.  But I don’t know what you do.”

This has been a surprising comment to me, though I imagine that many people don’t know what financial planners really do to help them.  Rather than speak for a vast industry, I will speak for myself:  I am a steward of my clients’ assets, capital, resources, and goals, and perhaps more importantly, I teach them how to be better stewards of their assets, capital, resources, and goals. 

Stewardship is generally defined as “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” (Merriam Webster) And while we’re on the topic of definitions, let’s go back to the dictionary to show why I distinguish between assets, capital, and resources…

Asset: a valuable person or thing

Capital: Financial assets or the financial value of assets, such as cash

Resource: a supply of something (such as money) that someone has and can use when it is needed.

A-ha.

Too often we – all of us – define our assets, our capital, and our resources in strictly monetary terms.  While that element is certainly present here, the words value and need are also present; it is the focus on what we have, what we need and what we value that helps us to define our goals and become better stewards.  Stewardship is more than the classic financial advice of “stop buying a $5 latte every day and invest that money instead.”  The analysis must also consider what you need and what you value.  Do you need a $5 latte?  No.  But do you value the future gratification of achieving a financial goal more than you value the gratification of drinking a latte today?  Maybe not.

My “job” with my clients, what I do, is to help them focus on what they need and what they value, and then build their path to sound stewardship. I manage their assets, capital, and resources to match their carefully defined goals.  I strive to help my clients meet or exceed their goals, so they will gain financial confidence and a renewed appreciation for their hard-earned assets, capital and resources.

Retirement isn’t what it used to be – it is longer and less certain.  Millennials care more about where their money goes and how it is used.  Women are controlling more assets.  Demographic changes in our country are starting to shift how money is used, managed, and invested.  At the same time, some things remain gloriously consistent: you have to invest money if you want to retire, you have to spend less than you make, and you should never take more risk in your investments than you can handle. My clients embrace these principles, and rely on my stewardship to navigate whatever changes may come.