This article will be appearing in a local newspaper this week and I wanted to post it here so you could see it first. I had to post it exaclty how it was approved for compliance reasons.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Gaddis and I am the financial consultant for NBDC Financial Services, which is a trade name of the National Bank of Delaware County. We offer our products and securities through Infinex Investments, Inc., for which I am the Investment Executive. As such my offices are located at the Bank’s branches in Walton, Andes, Franklin, Hamden, Stamford and Roxbury.

Please contact me at cgaddis@infinexgroup.com or call
me at 607-865-4126. You may also visit our website to learn
more at http://www.nbdcfinancial.com.

HOW TO “GET THERE” IN TOUGH TIMES

By: Chris J. Gaddis, Financial Consultant

We’re not out of this yet. We are truly facing historically challenging times, and I want to talk to you about the five steps that you need to take to ensure your financial stability. What’s the secret? A Plan.

Every day we make decisions that impact our financial futures, whether we are aware of it or not. The goal is to have a future in which we can retire and live comfortably. It is easy to make arbitrary decisions based on hope and instinct, but to truly arrive, you need a plan.

I explain this to my clients with a simple illustration. You are starting a road trip to an exotic location. You have never been there before. Would you start out without taking or even looking at a map or just shoot from the hip and drive? You would probably start with a plan. Otherwise, you could waste precious time and money. It is the same with your financial goals. If you don’t have a plan, how can you expect to get there on time, and with money to spare?

But how do you plan?

First, pick an advisor. Some of you may think you are able to do this on your own, but studies have shown that this is generally not the case. Most advisors are paid to be up-to-date on their financial knowledge so that they can monitor your investments regularly and with diligence. Many of us are too busy with our own jobs and lives to perform these tasks, and they are too important to ignore. If investment management is not high on your list of priorities, you owe it to your future to look for a trusted advisor, if you don’t already have one.

Many times, prospective clients ask why they should hire me; what sets me apart? My answer is simple. It’s ME. All investment consultants have access to the same basic products and have the same fee structures. The client must be comfortable with ME as a person and as a financial confidante, and he must know that I will represent his best interests – not mine and not my company’s. Don’t settle.

Second, look for someone who does not work on commission. Too often, an advisor risks conflict of interest when he must choose between recommending a product that will cost you less and provide the same benefit versus choosing one that may not match your needs, but provides him with more income. I am not paid by commission. Most advisors will act honorably, but you don’t need the headaches from those who don’t.

Third, determine your risk tolerance, and review it at least annually. Most good advisors will want to sit down with you so that you can fill out a risk assessment questionnaire. You will want to assess your risk tolerance before moving forward with your plan, because your tolerance will indicate what kind of return you might expect on your portfolio and directly dictate how likely you are to achieve your goals within your time frame.

Assessing your risk tolerance, paying attention to proper asset diversification and planning thoughtful allocation will help you feel comfortable with your investments and with your plan for the future. You must be able to sleep at night, and I do, too.

Fourth, assess your goals and determine a plan to achieve them. In a traditional financial plan, there are six areas of planning: estate, risk (insurance coverage), budget, retirement, goals (i.e. new home, marriage, education, vacation, etc.) and tax planning. You will determine exactly what is necessary to meet your goals and even exceed them. A good advisor will walk you through many other financial actions, like recommending ways to save money by budgeting, paying down debt, building a cash reserve and ultimately, reaching financial freedom.

If you own a business, Step Four is where you would work it into your plan. Finding an advisor with expertise in this field will be of great value in making decisions. Many advisors have designations after their names, such as CFP, CRPC, CPA and MBA, among others. I have my Masters Degree in Business Administration, a strong background in business and entrepreneurism. These are among the additional attributes that I bring to the NBDC Financial Services table, which can be of great value to the client.

Fifth, implement your plan and follow through. It is as simple as that. We live in an “I want it all” society, with an “and I want it now” chaser. Learning to delay our gratification allows us to better position ourselves to save for the future and not have to struggle from pay check to pay check. Remember, a plan means nothing if it isn’t implemented and stayed with. You are in charge of your future, so no one can do it, but you.

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