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Ask The Expert - Harbor Lights Financial Group, Inc.
Harbor Lights Financial Group, Inc.
2424 Route 34
Manasquan, NJ 08736
Harbor Lights Financial Group is a full-service financial consulting firm located on Route 34 in the heart of Wall Township. They are committed to helping their clients improve their long-term financial success through customized strategies.
As an independent firm, Harbor Lights Financial Group has no obligations to investment product manufacturers and no cross-selling quotas or other home office directives that may lead to conflicts of interest. They don’t spend their time in meetings or on conference calls with far-off senior management. Their sole focus is on serving their clients and, they act in their clients’ best interests at all times.
They are in the business of assisting clients in the accumulation and preservation of wealth. To achieve that mission, they focus the firm’s activities on a single goal: To provide expert independent financial advice and comprehensive asset management services at a reasonable cost.
With over 20 years of helping local families manage their wealth, short and long term, what would you say are some of the common misconceptions you typically run into?
Over the past 24 years, we’ve run into many misconceptions pertaining to the financial services industry. One of the most important misconceptions is that all financial advisors operate under the same platforms. Many advisors are employees of larger firms that often make markets in specific investments and/or firms or mutual fund companies that are part of their recommended list. Harbor Lights Financial Group is an independent financial planning firm and neither we nor our Broker Dealer, LPL Financial, conduct any investment banking business - nor do we own or sell any proprietary product lines. We feel this presents fewer conflicts of interest and subsequently results in a less biased set of recommendations for the client over the long term. Another common misconception pertains to confidentiality. We offer complimentary consultations to prospective clients so we can get to know them and their situation. They in turn can get to know us and our firm and can determine whether or not we will provide sensible solutions to help them achieve their objectives. Part of this process entails collecting data about the prospective client. This data is kept in the strictest of confidence. If the relationship does not move orward, the information collected is shredded to protect the potential client’s information and our own firm’s reputation.
What retirement and wealth preservation strategies are being employed today to manage risk when trying to help investors/families reach their goals?
We are living in a time of very high if not unprecedented market volatility. With that in mind, we feel it is important to focus on properly allocating assets in a sensible portfolio. It would consist of some assets that may capitalize on market growth, such as common stocks, assets that seek to protect against inflation, such as gold, natural resources and TIPS (Treasury Inflation), and other assets that focus on stability of principal with income potential, such as annuities and corporate bonds. The proper balance of the above referenced asset classes depends on many factors, such as the client’s time horizon and risk tolerance. We also feel it is important to maintain a long term perspective in order to allow a given asset allocation strategy the time to run through the various stages of the business cycle.
Over the course of their careers, many of our readers are going to need to rollover their 401k at least a couple of times. Can you describe for them how this is done?
For many years we have assisted our clients in this very important component of the retirement planning process. We have worked with retirees from companies such as Verizon, Merck, Bristol Myers Squib and, educators from local school districts. We start by reviewing the client’s entire retirement package to help them determine whether or not retirement is feasible at any given time. Many people simply add up their assets, multiply by 5% and use that figure to base their retirement decision on. We help them factor in the impact of inflation. Did you know that if we experience a 3% inflation rate over the next 24 years the purchasing power of a $60,000.00 retirement income will be cut in half if inflation protection is not built into the portfolio? Many people have a choice between a lump sum pension or a monthly annuity. Understanding the pros and cons associated with that decision is very important and requires considerable analysis. The rollover of a 401k into a self-directed IRA is a very common recommendation because it may open up investment choices and protections that are not available leaving the funds with the company’s current custodian. The rollover process is relatively simple and in many cases can be done with a phone call to the current 401k custodian requesting that the funds be transferred to a new custodian which will maintain the client’s self-directed IRA.
You probably get asked this question a lot, but what would you tell friends or family to use as a criteria when selecting the right wealth manager/firm for themselves?
I feel there are three very important criteria. First, the wealth manager should be a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP. This ensures the client that the advisor has met the rigorous educational requirements mandated by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and maintains an ongoing continuing education regimen which focuses on important topics, such as Ethics. Second, the wealth manager should be free of corporate-mandated product recommendations. As mentioned earlier, firms that operate independently typically have fewer conflicts of interest because they neither own product nor make a market in recommended securities. And finally, the advisor should have spent a reasonable amount of time in the industry. Having ridden many market cycles since the 1980s, we have seen many good markets and more than a few down markets. The lessons learned from decades past prepare you for the decades ahead.
Ken offers Securities through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC
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