Dialing Back the Confusion

Dialing Back the Confusion

March 15, 2024

From transparent investments to jargon-free advice, discover how we help dial back the confusion.

Dialing Back the Confusion

March 15, 2024

I recently spent too much time with a large cell phone company trying to understand my family's plan. One of us needs a new phone. When we made that seemingly simple request, the diligent rep provided a proposal involving four new "free" phones—each required a new, 36-month service commitment—and, somehow, a lower monthly combined bill. In this process, we discovered multiple add-on charges we didn't know about and which are virtually impossible to find on the bill.

I am comfortable with math and finance. I have a bachelor's and an MBA. In my previous career, mobile phone companies were some of my clients. But understanding my bill appears to require a superpower I lack. I am confused, frustrated, and exhausted.

Our bill is a black hole: utterly non-transparent and growing by the year.

This experience has me thinking harder than ever about how we can help our clients fully understand their financial position and make the best decisions they can to achieve their goals.

Here's what we have done since Old Peak Finance started more than ten years ago:

  • We primarily recommend low-cost, transparent investment products. These investments are easier for clients to understand, and they are likely to produce higher long-term returns and less likely to create tax or performance surprises. No, they are not as simple as a bank savings account, but they are an awful lot easier to understand than most of what we see in the market.
  • We avoid overly complex products. If you've ever tried to understand a variable annuity, you know what I mean. I could list many other over-engineered examples. Here's what they have in common: it's hard to understand the fees or the range of potential outcomes (i.e., the risk).
  • We try to avoid jargon. RMDs, QCDs, NQSOs, ILITs, Monte Carlos, IRRs, CCRCs, Social Security NRA, Medicare IRMAA … the list of financial planner jargon is long. I recognize that's true about any industry. But the problem is: we're talking about your money. You should understand your finances. So, we need to speak clearly.
  • We have a simple, transparent quarterly fee. We don't hide it. Our clients need to know because it impacts their total return. (Go to our website here.) The investment products we recommend have fees that, like ours, are easy to calculate and well below industry averages.
  • We talk with our clients regularly. We want their questions, concerns, and challenges. That way, we can address what matters most to them.
  • We seek to educate. Whether it's on our blog, on our website, or through client events, we create materials that will inform and clarify. We also do this pro bono with high school students, working-age adults, and retirees.

We want your input. What can financial planners like Old Peak Finance do to help you better understand your financial situation? Email us your thoughts.

Life is complicated enough. Your financial plan should simplify your life, not make it harder.

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This article is not intended to provide tax, legal, accounting, financial, or professional advice. Readers should seek advice from qualified professionals who can review their specific circumstances. Old Peak Finance endeavors to provide information that is accurate and current. However, we cannot guarantee that this information has not been outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect by new research, legislation, or other changes. Old Peak Finance has no liability or responsibility to any individual or entity with respect to losses or damages caused or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained on this website.

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