Read Brian’s article on retirement planning here.
Brian will be teaching a retirement planning seminar at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Glenwood Springs on April 23rd from 6:30-9:30pm.
For more information or to sign up, please visit the CMC website.
On April 1st, Brian participated in a financial advisor panel held at Pitkin County Library in Aspen, CO. A transcript of Brian’s remarks can be found below.
MODERATOR: How long have you been in the business?
BRIAN: I’ve been a financial advisor for the past 12 years. I started out working at a wealth management firm down the road in Boulder. Before that, I was an Air Force officer for 8 years.
MODERATOR: Why did you choose line of this business?
BRIAN: This line of business exists at the intersection of two of my favorite pursuits: helping people and personal finance.
MODERATOR: What are your credentials?
BRIAN: I have two Master’s Degrees in Finance and have earned both the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designations. The first designation is pretty much self-explanatory, but the latter designation, the CFA, pertains to possessing a certain level of expertise in investment management.
MODERATOR: Do you have a minimum account size?
BRIAN: Nothing that’s carved in stone, but it’s generally about $500,000 in investable assets.
MODERATOR: Do you act as a fiduciary for your clients?
BRIAN: Yes and at all times. Only about 10% of financial advisors can say that. In my experience, that’s a figure that the investing public is really surprised to hear. Most mistakenly believe that all advisors have to act in their clients’ best interests at all times.
MODERATOR: How do you stand out from the competition?
BRIAN: My firm is completely independent; I’m not attached to, employed by, or affiliated with a larger financial institution somewhere else. Why is that important? It means I’m not pushing their products and services on clients in order to satisfy a corporate boss in Miami or NYC. My bosses are my clients and no one else. Additionally, I act as a fiduciary at all times for my clients, not just when I’m providing certain services. As we mentioned previously, that sets me apart from about 90% of the other advisors out there. Lastly, I specialize in retirement planning. I currently teach the subject as an adjunct professor at two different universities.
MODERATOR: Are financial advisors worth it?
BRIAN: That’s kind of like asking, “Are cars reliable?” They definitely can be. If they’re a competent advisor with a steadfast moral compass, I would say that they become more and more worth it as a client’s or family’s financial situation increases in complexity.
MODERATOR: What services do your provide your clients?
BRIAN: The two major services I provide are financial planning and investment management. Those two services, when combined and provided on an ongoing basis, are usually termed wealth management. I provide all three services.
MODERATOR: Tell us about your investment philosophy and how you get paid.
BRIAN: I adhere to the notion that financial markets in advanced economies are largely efficient. Therefore, I typically employ passive investing strategies by using tax-efficient, low-cost index funds in client accounts. Where financial markets are less efficient, I’m more apt to use active investing strategies.
I only get paid in two ways: either hourly fees for financial planning or a percentage of the assets I manage for investment management and wealth management. I do not sell financial products nor do I receive commissions for putting my clients in certain financial products. My goal isn’t just to find products and services that are suitable for my clients, it’s to find the best products and services for them.
A panel of four Financial Planners will illustrate how different or similar their services are. If you have been wanting to get financial advice but felt you did not have the knowledge or the wealth or the guts, this panel is for you! Come and ask your questions! No fooling…
Before investing in any crypto-related offering, consider…
(1) the three “U’s” (untraceable, uninsured, unregulated),
(2) the substantial volatility and liquidity risks, and
(3) the very real potential for fraud.
This NASAA video highlights that, unlike deposits made to a bank account, deposits into a digital wallet for cryptocurrency transactions are uninsured in case of adverse events such as fraud or insolvency. Cryptocurrencies are often traded on unregulated digital platforms lacking consumer protections. Buyer beware!
Photo credit: André McKenzie
Did you achieve your financial goals in 2018? If you found yourself short on cash flow last year or didn’t reach the savings milestones that you hoped for then it may be time to set some new financial goals for the New Year.
Prioritize for the short and long term.
Many people have short-term (within 2 years) and long-term (over 5 years) goals; the key to achieving all of them is to prioritize. The amount of money, time, and effort you dedicate to each goal depends on their importance a.k.a. their priority.
According to Investopedia “Setting goals is an important step toward becoming financially secure. If you aren’t working toward anything specific, you’re likely to spend more than you should. Setting short-term financial goals can give you the confidence boost and foundational knowledge you need to achieve larger goals that will take more time.”
Be realistic about all goals.
Setting, working toward, and achieving financial goals is a strong motivator for bigger accomplishments, but only if the goals are realistic. It can be extremely disappointing to want something that you don’t achieve.
When setting financial goals, be realistic about the time horizon, monthly budget allocation and affordability. It’s also important to set mini-goals and check in on your progress regularly. These actions will help determine if you’re on track to achieving your goal or if the plan of action needs to be adjusted.
Seek professional advice.
When it comes to your personal finances, goals are not always easy to achieve – that’s where the advice of a professional can become part of the plan. A financial advisor can help set realistic money management goals as well as create a plan to help you achieve them in a reasonable amount of time.
An advisor can also help create investment strategies for your financial goals that align with your risk tolerance and time horizon. According to Marketwatch “Median annual returns for 401(k) holders who got professional help were 3.32 percentage points higher than returns for people who invested on their own.”
Don’t just save. Invest wisely.
A major benefit of seeking professional financial advice is the advisor’s investment knowledge and industry expertise. Of course, the option to invest on your own is an option, but when it comes to money, paying for service from an expert is definitely worth the cost.
A financial advisor doesn’t just help you find extra disposable income to save; they help you invest wisely so your money grows over time. The more your money grows, the faster you’ll achieve your goals.
If you have specific financial goals for 2019, contact me today and let’s create a plan to achieve them!
Brian Littlejohn is a Fiduciary Financial Advisor at Sherwood Investment Management, a fee-only wealth management firm in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Brian is a CFP® professional and a CFA® charterholder. He has also earned an MBA and a Master’s Degree in Financial Analysis. He has over a decade of experience helping clients achieve their financial goals and occasionally teaches investing and financial planning courses as an adjunct professor.
Brian has been selected to teach a retirement planning course for Franklin University as an adjunct professor in the spring. Here are the details:
FPLN-450 Retirement Saving/Income Plan (4 Credits) – 12 weeks in length
An introduction to retirement planning concepts, procedures, and issues for individuals, businesses, and business owners. Topics include understanding and evaluating client retirement objectives, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, tailoring retirement plans to client needs, funding retirement plans and investing plan assets, retirement planning for individual clients, post-retirement monetary needs, tax considerations in retirement planning, and retirement plan distributions.
On this Veterans Day, if you know someone who has (a) been seriously injured while serving in the military or (b) lost a loved one who was serving, please encourage them to reach out to me (707-776-7331 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if they are eligible to receive free financial planning advice for life. It’s a great benefit for a truly deserving group of Americans!
Over 90% of Americans think that financial advisors should be fiduciaries. However, less than 10% actually are. I think we can safely assume that there are MANY people out there who incorrectly believe that their advisor acts in their best interest at all times. The article below does a good job of sorting everything out.
Brian R. Littlejohn Earns Prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst Designation
NOVATO, CA, October 2, 2018 – Brian Littlejohn, a registered investment advisor at Sherwood Investment Management in Novato, CA, has earned the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation.
The CFA charter, the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world, represents a tradition of upholding the highest standards of education and integrity in the investment profession. The charter is recognized globally by employers, investment professionals, and investors as the definitive standard by which to measure the competence, integrity, and dedication of serious investment professionals.
Recipients of the CFA charter have successfully completed the CFA Program, a graduate-level, self-study curriculum and a series of three intensive examinations taken sequentially, which, in total, takes most candidates between two and five years. Candidate surveys report that preparation for the three exams typically requires at least 900 combined hours of study.
The CFA Program, which is administered by CFA Institute, the global not-for-profit association of investment professionals, sets a standard that is acknowledged around the world for measuring the competence and integrity of financial analysts, portfolio managers, and investment advisers. Currently, more than 100,000 investment professionals in 135 countries and territories hold the CFA charter.
The first CFA exam was administered in 1963. Due to the rigor of the program, only around one in five candidates who enroll in the CFA Program pass all three exams and meet the professional and ethical requirements to earn the charter. Earning the designation demonstrates mastery of the skills most needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s fast-evolving global financial industry.
Administered worldwide in English, the CFA Program is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills required every day in the investment profession and covers ethical and professional standards, securities analysis and valuation, international financial statement analysis, quantitative methods, economics, corporate finance, portfolio management, and performance measurement.
Brian has worked in the financial industry for 11 years. A graduate of Clemson University, Brian began his financial career at The Wealth Conservancy as an investment advisor in Boulder, CO in 2007. He then founded Sherwood Investment Management in 2014.
“I am thrilled to finally receive my charter,” Brian said. “It represents the successful culmination of hundreds of hours of study and a demonstrated commitment to professionalism and ethics. I’d like to thank my family and friends for all their support and understanding over the past several years.”
John Bowman, CFA, Managing Director, Americas at CFA Institute, explained what motivates candidates to make such a significant investment of their time and energy to seek to earn the CFA designation.
“For 50 years, candidates have sought to earn the CFA charter for two chief reasons,” Bowman said. “One, to expand and test their knowledge of current practice across a broad range of investment topics, and two, to demonstrate to clients, employers, and peers their mastery of a demanding body of knowledge.
“In the past decade, as the CFA Program has been adopted as a worldwide standard, the charter also has become an ‘international passport’ to work in financial markets anywhere in the world,” Bowman concluded.
Notes to Editors
About CFA Institute
CFA Institute is the global association for investment professionals. It administers the CFA and CIPM curriculum and exam programs worldwide; publishes research; conducts professional development programs; and sets voluntary, ethics-based professional and performance-reporting standards for the investment industry. CFA Institute has more than 115,000 members, who include the world’s more than 100,000 CFA charterholders, in 138 countries and territories, as well as 138 affiliated professional societies in 60 countries and territories. More information may be found at www.cfainstitute.org.