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Process vs. Product: Keeping Priorities in Order

Dr. Mitch Levin

Process vs. Product: Keeping Priorities in Order

» Article by MITCH LEVIN, MD, CWPP, CAPP |  Featured in the September 2017 edition of The Rational Optimist™ | January 30, 2013

The beginning of a new year is typically marked with intentions to “do better” in some form or another.  Whether we’re trying to eat less, exercise more, improve in our stress management, or enhance skill, we must first examine the fundamentals of the task and build from that foundation.  This principle stands valid when planning for retirement, investing for the future, or strategically disinvesting our wealth.  One of our core principles is the significance of one’s process, rather than one’s product.  I’ll share some ideas to clarify what I mean here.

A good way to understand why we take this approach is to simply consider the game of golf. Professional golfers often say, “It’s all about the swing; it’s not about the clubs.” While you do need to use the right club (and in the right way) to successfully get the ball where you want it to go, the process, or, “swing” if you will, is far more important. Once you have your process down, simply add the right club (tool, or financial product if you will), and your likelihood of success skyrockets.

Process vs. Product: Keeping Priorities in Order

You could spend hours selecting your clubs, only to fail because you hit the ball into a hazard or have a swing so wild you cannot get the ball anywhere near the green. It is the same way with investing. Financial advisors, insurance agents, annuity agents, stockbrokers and so forth are like “manufacturers reps,” selling products like annuities, investments, gold, mutual funds, retirement plans, real estate, etc., and too often they declare, “Buy my (insert product here) and you will succeed!” We see it differently.

We believe that the power is not in the tool; the power is in the process. Yes, deliberate success also requires integrity, strong ethics, and the expertise to determine which tool is needed, why it is needed, and the constitution to diligently monitor progress and make appropriate adjustments as needed; however, it all begins with process.

This is one reason why we believe a fee-based firm is superior. It is in the client best interest. We believe our clients should have universal access to all of the best products, or “clubs” of using the golf analogy. We believe that offering a variety of solutions on a fee-based structure gives our clients the best opportunity to achieve success in an efficient, effective and comfortable manner.  They retain control, maintain their lifestyle, protect their families, and preserve their legacies as productive members of our society and community.  And this fee-based structure creates a relationship wherein our success is contingent upon our client’s success.  We would not have it any other way.

We are not the only ones who feel this way. In the February 2012 edition of Investment News, researchers reported that finding sustainable yield for retirees has been tough in recent years. Because of this, the “four percent rule” of withdrawal (which said that if you withdraw four percent of your portfolio every year, you should not outlive your assets) has been called into question. This problem really boils down to the core of what popular-media-made investment philosophy has been during the past few years.

Chris Finefrock, Senior Analyst of ValMark in Akron, Ohio, puts it this way: in response to record low interest rates, he says, “In high volatility and equity markets, finding sustainable yield for retirees has not been an easy task. The answer to yield scarcity lies at the intersection of insurance, advisory and brokerage worlds, where independent advisors are uniquely equipped with different products and investment management tools that can work together to help generate the sustainable income and growth that retirees seek.”

We believe this clearly affirms our philosophy about independent financial advisors. It’s all about the process, not one particular product. That is why we offer universal access to an abundance of available tools. We want to offer you everything you need to stay in control, to make informed decisions, with clear disclosure and high-level transparency at all times.  To speak with one of our financial advisors in Orlando, Naples or Jacksonville, visit our website.