Challenge. Grow. Share.
We believe most great ideas are the result of one person’s perception about how something can be improved. They’re not fulfilled by the solution to the problem they’re facing, so they pursue their version of how it should be.
Several years ago I joined a large life insurance company from the late 1800s that shifted gears to begin offering retirement planning in the late 70s when the 401k came on the scene.
I didn’t question the routine of things, no one did. You took orders from your ranking officer, because that’s how it’s been done for years…besides, it was mostly a commission position, so you didn’t have time to try it your way.
No longer wet behind the ears, I began to question everything, and once I understood the bigger pieces, I could see the areas for improvement.
The biggest, and most obvious, was client acquisition, and although things had since evolved from the marketing methods of the early 1900s, they had yet to adopt the tech changes from the mid/late 1990s. Cold calling, residential/business door knocking, purchased leads, and the all illusive warm market (friends/family) are still their primary source of marketing today.
Every other industry had evolved to implement one or more forms of digital marketing, search engine optimization and social media to name the big ones.
Next was the planning process and how solutions were made to clients…the majority of the advisor’s process never evolved beyond a notepad, and most of what they did was backwards.
They were looking for assets and discretionary income, to dazzle and sell historical returns, safety from the stock market, and unwarranted levels of permanent life insurance. They practiced rudimentary procedures that did not accurately describe the basis of their recommendations.
The final area of concern was product and investment. Before the fiduciary rule, large firms placed big incentives around selling proprietary funds and products, features and benefits were less of a concern, even if the consumer could get better elsewhere.
The fiduciary rule may have leveled the playing field, but it did not reduce product and fund complexity. Most advisors would have a difficult time explaining their recommendation beyond the first layer, and their eyes would begin to gloss-over at the second.
Challenging and questioning everything, instead of accepting, is what brought about the identification of these problems and the creation of Sunpath Financial to provide the solutions, but our existence is moving beyond, and is becoming my version of what it means to be a company that’s defined by its thirst for understanding.
Innate desire to challenge (we were born to question everything)
We question everything to understand the truth about the world around us, the world we live in is ambiguous, and there are a lot of unknowns.
We are driven to understand how things work, to challenge the current state of affairs and industry standards, to discover and learn the truth of our involvements.
Innate desire to grow (we desire to learn and grow)
The more questions we ask, the more understanding we have, and we stack and apply that knowledge. It’s this slow incremental change that we call growth.
Growth is what drives us to continue our work, it’s the reward for challenging ourselves to discover the problem and for the hard work finding the solution. We believe growth is the secret for a life worth living.
Innate desire to share (we desire to share our discoveries)
The only reward greater than growth is to share what you grew from so that others can do the same, which lifts the standard, resparks the challenge, and the process continues.
Sharing also works as a feedback loop to improve the questions being asked, and the solutions being assumed.
Inquisitive Minds, Genius Solutions
By creating an environment conducive to inquisition, we’re able to attract the type of minds capable of finding, solving, and explaining general problems in business and the more complex ones we often face in our industry.
Although no challenge is too big or small, most challenges stem from our comprehensive planning process. The process starts with eleven financial variables; these variables are organized into a series of scenarios.
Scenarios depict how retirement might look if one decision was made in place of another, if an unpredictable event took place, or if any variable changed.
The first set of scenarios provide a clear understanding of retirement if no changes were made to the inputs, and how the inputs would stand up when stressed tested against several major retirement risks.
The second set of scenarios are built to increase the probability of plan success through recommendations and solutions. The process for identifying and implementing these recommendations and solutions is one of the industry’s great challenges.
So we test each of the scenarios we recommend against 1000 simulations (Monte Carlo), randomizing the plan variables, to demonstrate how it would perform under change.
An example is rate of return. Most advisors simply multiply and compound an asset by an average annual rate of return, showing clients strong linear growth over time, but that’s not how it works.
In reality, two investors can have the same average rate of return, but unless they invested in the same positions over their lifetime, the order they received those returns will differ.
Provided the same annual contribution, an order of lower returns in the initial years is conducive to higher saving, as you’ll be buying the lows in the earlier years, realizing greater appreciation in later years of the big returns.
The opposite is true for those making withdrawals to satisfy income needs. Provided the same annual withdrawal, an order of higher returns in the initial years is conducive to withdrawals for income, because fewer positions are sold to meet the need, while the bigger returns are more effective on the larger balance.
Only from the example do we realize the presence of the risk. This awareness provides the opportunity to educate and recommend solutions that mitigate the impact it can have on retirement.
While some risks appear to be obvious, most are inconspicuous, which is why we seek deep understanding of the inputs, recommendations and solutions, and run a series of simulations to ensure the long-term security of the plans we build.
The complexity of this work is demanding, but rewarding, and requires talented and bright individuals.
We Build Comprehensive Retirement Plans
Our goal is to help every American step on the scale of retirement to measure their current progress against their ambitions, to build and manage a plan that solves the shortcomings.
We combine brilliant minds with advanced software, to make calculated projections about how one’s future might resort if they made one decision in place of another, if an unforeseen circumstance took place, or if their financial assumptions changed.
The first step is the hardest, so we publish and host free educational content and webinars that lead into a complimentary retirement checkup. The checkup consists of a short phone call where a financial advisor gathers income, expenses, assets, liabilities, current and desired retirement age.
That information is used to paint the picture of how retirement would look based on current assumptions, and applied to several retirement risks. Most checkups produce shortfalls, so adjustments will need to be made and maintained in order to reach their goal.
We offer a fee-based, unbiased approach to develop a plan to meet the shortfall, and maintain the retirement goal. The plan is built in a cloud-based, aggregation software that brings all financial accounts together, and updates them daily. This provides transparency and insight to progress as it’s earned.
The plan is shared during a second call and screen share, where a retirement specialist will spend 1 to 2 hours walking through and making recommendations. Toward the end of the call a schedule is set for a series of meetings between advisor and client to review progress.