Before you invest you have to know why you're investing.
The rate of return you need to earn determines your level of risk.
Your level of risk determines your portfolio design.
Improper tax planning can lower your portfolio value.
Before we invest, we need to determine your investment goals. Your investment goals can typically be defined as the amount of money or income that you need for something now and/or in the future. Once the amount of money or income that you need is determined, an investment plan can be developed to help you reach your goals.
Investing without knowing your goals, is like getting in your vehicle and driving around endlessly until you are lost without a map or GPS. Investing requires a fairly clear and well defined roadmap for the highest probability of long-term financial success.
As with any goal, you have to determine the path to reach the goal. This leads to determining the rate of return you need to earn. Your required rate of return is the minimum amount of return that is needed to reach your investment goals over a given period of time. Your required rate of return is typically not the highest rate of return.
Once your required rate of return is determined, an investment plan can be developed with the highest probability of reaching your required rate of return. It is your required rate of return that determines how much you should have invested in stocks, bonds and cash.
Designing your asset allocation (fancy for what type of market exposures do you need in your portfolio) starts with determining the amount of risk you need to have in your investment plan to reach your financial goals. Therefore, once we know your required rate of return from the prior step, we can then determine how much risk you need to take in your investment plan, which then determines what asset allocation strategy may be appropriate for your investment plan.
Our philosophy is to always work with you to design an investment plan with the least amount of risk needed related to your required rate of return. This way you know what the minimum amount of risk is you need to assume to reach your financial goals, and if you choose to take more risk, it's because you want to, not because you need to take more risk.
Taxes should never be a primary driver of investment decision making, but improper tax planning can disrupt even the best and most well-intentioned investment plan. We help to minimize your taxes by locating your investment assets in specific types of accounts based on your tax situation.
Less tax efficient investments are typically held in your qualified tax-deferred retirement accounts, while tax efficient investments are typically held in your non-qualified taxable accounts.
In addition, when market opportunities allow, we use tax-loss harvesting strategies to generate tax losses in your non-qualified taxable accounts that can then be used to offset capital gains to help lower your current and future taxes.