Ask the Professionals, Volume I: Questions That Clients Ask Our CWM Team

At CWM, while we tailor our counsel to clients’ singular goals and needs, based on an individuals’ life stages and circumstances, we’ve found it’s natural for many to wonder about the same topics. Below is a look at responses to some of the most frequently asked questions our team members field on a weekly (or even daily) basis. To our clients, thank you for your curiosity and engagement. We are excited to be here to serve as your partners and as an ongoing resource to help you live richly.
Question Cufflinks

Q: What determines the financial decisions made by CWM financial advisors?

A: Above all, we look at each clients’ situation from a holistic, comprehensive view. We find our clients are often surprised with what we know about any number of smaller details that contribute to the bigger picture, such as mortgages, auto financing, tax law, home and auto insurance, umbrella insurance, earthquake insurance, and all of those other little things that people assume someone else knows more about. We jokingly say we are the Google of Finance. In all of our financial decisions, we seek to provide our clients with a realistic view of the what the market has done over the past 20-ish years and the importance of managing risk. Our investment process has continued to develop and work towards maximizing returns while reducing market risk.

- Brian


Q: How can I stay informed on the latest financial trends and advice from the CWM financial advisors?

A: This is one of our favorite questions to hear. We aim to keep our clients fully informed, starting with our Thirdly event series and quarterly Market Insights newsletter. Our Thirdlies are in-person (or virtual during COVID-19 to accommodate responsible social distancing) events intended to engage, inform, and thank our clients for partnering with us. The Market Insights newsletter, on the other hand, is written by our Chief Investment Officer, Morgan Arford, and reveals a sort of status update on the economy as a whole. Clients receive quarterly performance reports for their individual portfolios, as well. Beyond those regular touchpoints, we hope you’ll check our blog often for posts on topical issues and keep an eye on your inbox for client alerts around timely market changes.

- Anna


Q: Are you still married?

A: Yes.

Q: Happily married?

A: Yes.

- Sue


Q: I’m a new parent. What can I do to save for my child’s college?

A: Congratulations! The short answer is that 529 Plans are often the best option, and the earlier a parent, guardian, grandparent or other contributing adult saves, the better. That said, saving for college is a serious decision that depends upon an array of other factors. As you save for your children, we also want to make sure you can take care of yourself, which means building your foundation of safety by maintaining adequate reserves and opportunity funds. As your children get closer to college age, we’ll continue to happily answer any of your questions or point you to external resources, including college placement consultant Kathleen Griffin, and even acting as a sounding board as they begin to consider their own financial goals. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your children is to demonstrate sound financial decision making so that you can set an example for them to emulate and help educate them on basic financial topics. It’s an exciting time for your family, and we want to help you navigate it in the most effective way for everyone.

- Marc


Q: I’m retiring soon. How do I ensure I don’t outlive my money?

A: It depends. The decision to retire comes with a thousand important questions. As we found when working with our Boeing clients during the Voluntary Layoff package distribution in May, ensuring you don’t outlive your money, and transitioning remaining resources to heirs or charities, looks different for everyone. With the stock market’s changing nature, many clients want to feel confident that our investment process is going to help preserve their resources in periods of market decline. Chasing every bit of gain is not as important to them as preserving their current lifestyle. Yet another factor to consider is the need to create a consistent tax liability throughout retirement to avoid a common mistake: kicking the tax down the road and ending up in a higher tax bracket later in retirement. This can be the worst time to delay the tax, especially as many retirees at that stage in life no longer have deductions or tax-free income anymore. Another important consideration revolves around the timing of when to start receiving social security or how to roll over a 401k to an IRA account. We hold pre-retirement meetings with clients preparing to make this very important transition. We want them to feel confident that they’re ready to take the plunge, and what adjustments need to be made as a result.

- Brian


Q: I’m ready to start a business. How can I work to maximize my results?

A: While starting a business is certainly an exciting time, we want to approach this from a risk-management perspective to determine how much risk you need to take (or not take) in order to hit your goals. Part of that means setting up specific plans, like a 401(k) or defined-benefit plan, or other tax-advantaged savings or workplace benefits, depending upon on how your business is set up (Sole proprietorship, C-Corp, and others). Succession is also something to consider, once your business has been established, and effectively and thoughtfully transitioning what you’ve built to next generation partners or family members.

- Morgan

We hope you’ve found this Q&A useful, and we will continue to find ways to share information and connect with our clients on effective ways to reach your personal financial goals. Whether you’re seeking a financial advisor or you’ve already connected with one at CWM, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 425-778-6160 or request an appointment today for direct answers to investment and financial planning questions.

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