What Make TWS Unique?

All financial planning firms are not created equal. Why TWS? Well, first off :

TWS is a Financial Planning Firm! A pretty novel concept wouldn’t you say? The landscape is chock-full of “financial advisers”, “financial representatives”, “financial this and financial that”. Most of them do not do financial planning. They may do parts of it- insurance, tax, or investment advising- but they don’t look at or advise on the whole picture. They’re like going to a cardiologist for a physical. Are they really going to take a look inside your ear?

TWS is Independent! It’s not part of a large corporate entity based 8 states and 2 time-zones away. It doesn’t get “advice” from corporate headquarters as to what might be good for its clients to buy or sell or do. Our advice goes where our clients need it to go. We don’t have a pre-set agenda designed to “make the numbers” for the shareholders. We succeed by giving personal attention and advice to our clients who we know best.

TWS is Fee-Only! It’s a confusing term, this fee-only. Maybe some people like it that way. Fee-only, fee-based- where could there be confusion in that? TWS is fee-only, not fee-based. And it’s a BIG difference. Fee-only means we don’t sell anything to you, our client, for which we’re paid a fee or commission by a third-party. No hidden revenue streams here. You know what we earn because the only person paying us is you. So what’s this fee-based thing? It’s a term created by those folks in the headquarters 8 states and 2 time-zones away to muddy the waters. People like the concept of fees, not commissions, so they needed a way to sound like they were on the same page as us. So they created fee-based. What it means is that the person working with you is doing some work for a fee (often a loss-leader) paid by you directly, and is also being paid commissions by a third-party for selling you a financial product. This is typically under the guise of helping you to “implement” the plan you paid for. The problems with this are: 1. You never know what they were paid in commissions; 2. When they change compensation models, they also change their legal responsibility to you and to whom their contractual loyalty is to. See “Fiduciary” below. We don’t change hats with our clients.

TWS is a Fiduciary! Yeah, a funky legal term. But an important one for our clients. In a nutshell it means that TWS is obligated to put the interest of its clients first and foremost- ahead of its own. We must do what’s in our client’s best interest, not our own. It’s quite a bit different than the standard for commission-receiving advisers. Their standard is one of “suitability”. They must recommend products or solutions that are “suitable” for someone in their client’s position. It doesn’t have to be the “best” solution. It doesn’t have to be the most financially advantageous (for the client). It has to be suitable. O.K. This is where the fee-based problem comes in. Their obligation switches from one of fiduciary when collecting a fee to one of suitability when they sell you a commission-paying product. TWS, as a fee-only firm, is always a fiduciary. We can’t, and don’t want to, escape it.

TWS takes a Life Planning Approach! Financial planning evolved out of the insurance world way back when. Agents- to their credit- wanted a better way to quantify how much life insurance someone should have. Prior to that it was mainly rule-of-thumb. So financial planning started as and for many firms still is an analytical, number-crunching exercise. The problem with that, we think, is that our client’s lives aren’t an analytical, number-crunching exercise. Rather, their lives are full of hopes, dreams, goals and values that they hold dear and dearly want to achieve and experience. We aren’t here to tell them to put a certain amount of money into the XYZ investment to end up with- maybe- a certain amount of money (which will be wrong because we can’t predict the future like that). We’re here to help them figure out what’s important to them, how best they’d like to do it, how much that might cost in time, money, and change (can’t always do things the same way and get different results). Then we help them figure out how to do it and help them to do it. No one on their death-bed cares what’s in their bank account. They reflect on what they did in life and maybe what they regret not doing. A good financial planner- a financial Life Planner- sees his/her job as helping clients do what they desire and end with no regrets. Pretty heady stuff for sure. But what value is an advisor if he/she isn’t helping make clients’ lives better.