It Takes A Team

By Geoff Schaefer

Geoff is a Wealth Advisor with Intergy Private Wealth. He writes for The Steadfast Fiduciary to help people live with an abundant heart, open mind, and boundless generosity.

February 9, 2024

It’s Super Bowl weekend! You know what I’m tired of hearing though? No, not Taylor Swift complaints (I actually think she is helping football more than hurting it). It’s Brock Purdy vs Patrick Mahomes commentary.  All of my favorite sport’s shows want to talk about the quarterback matchup like they are the only two people out there. Like it’s the US Open or something and we are about to watch some tennis. Football is the ultimate team sport. Eleven guys on each side of the ball, an ensemble of coaches and coordinators, management staff, all working toward one common goal- winning on Sunday. Now I understand that some positions can have more impact on a game than others, but they do not exist in a vacuum.  Take McCaffery away from Purdy, and that man doesn’t have nearly the same time to throw.  Take away Mahomes O-line and he’s limping more than Aaron Rodgers on opening night. Without solid defenses, both offenses would be too tired by halftime to make any significant push. You even have a little scrawny kicker that often times, feels more pressure than anyone when it’s his time to work.

That was a bit of a rant against the football and sports media machine, but I do have a point.  Your financial plan is not much different from a football team.  Often times, I meet with prospective clients and they view me as the potential solution to all their financial woes. A few meetings with Geoff and his team and we will be good to go for life- financial plan set! While I would like to take that credit, it would not be entirely fair or honest of me.  Once we start on the path of financial planning, we are ultimately responsible for walking it.

When you bring on a Certified Financial Planner™ and their team, what you are bringing on is a rockstar coordinator. As a player, you have blind spots. You know your position so well, but might miss some pieces.  A coordinator looks at everything, sees the risk that exist on every play and the opportunities that can be exploited. They draw up the game plan and even call nearly every single play you run, but guess what! The players run the plays. Without the players, the ball doesn’t move, no first downs, no touchdowns, nothing. The coordinators job can only go so far. Players sometimes even change the play call seconds prior to the ball snapping. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were both known for their quick audibles at the last second. Coordinators plan, but the players get it done.

Your financial planner will absolutely plan for retirement. Any good planner will consider your lifetime tax planning, insurance planning, debt management, and estate planning as well. Most financial planners will even work on setting your monthly budget up if that is the assistance you need.  This is all great, and what I truly believe is a necessity for most people, but there is a point, where the play has been called and now it is up to the player to execute.

  • You could draw up the best budget ever, but without purposeful spending, what did it do?
  • You could calculate your life insurance need to the cent, but if you don’t apply for coverage, how useful is it to know that you need that coverage level?
  • You could figure out how to save thousands on taxes if you use an Health Savings Account, start a solo 401(k) and deduct eligible expenses through your business, but what if none of that happens?
  • You could come up with the best asset allocation in the history of the investment universe, but if you don’t save into the account and invest regularly, what was it even for?

I’ve been planning long enough to see some of the best investment game plans fail for lack of execution. Trust your coordinator to come up with a great plan and excellent ideas on execution, but know that when it comes down to it, your financial plan is yours and yours alone.

It may seem daunting. You are smart and capable and confident, but it seems like a lot. It is, and we cant dismiss that, but rely on your coordinator to give you tips and ideas on what to do.  Here are a few ideas for building up your offensive line, receiving core, and backfield:

  1. When it can be automated, automate it.  This one is huge and is simply understanding yourself and human nature.  The more steps and obstacles that exists between point A and B, the less chance that we’ll get there, no matter how awesome point B is. Do extra work to automate, so less obstacles exists in the aftermath.
    • It might be more work to set up automatic contributions to investment accounts, but once you establish them, they are happening every month- no matter what!
    • Automate your budget. If the excel life is not for you, don’t do it.  Know what you spend and keep your needs through one card or account and your wants through another. If you know both should a certain amount per month, you can track that one figure versus thirty line items. Save first, spend what’s left over.
    • Auto Bill Pay.  For your needs- mortgage, phone, utilities, etc. Set as much as you can on auto pay. This will eliminate missed payments and allow time and energy to focus elsewhere.
  2. When you can’t automate- look to outsource!
    • Don’t know which investments to pick in your 401(k)? You don’t want to deal with tax loss harvesting your non-qualified account? Don’t want to determine what fixed income fund matches your investment criteria the best? Hire a wealth manager! Many financial planning firms have wealth management as well. Have it all done on your behalf.
    • Don’t want to go through quotes and underwriting with three different companies for your life, health, or long term disability insurance? That’s fine! Amazing insurance brokers exists! They’ll get you a quote, pick one that works the best and get the policy underwritten for you. All you have to is follow their process.
    • Wondering where you’ll find the time for law school since you don’t really have confidence in the will you wrote up on the back of a napkin? That is fine! There are so many excellent estate and family attorneys out there who are ready to serve and get wills, trusts, powers of attorneys and more all taken care of for you.
  3. Last one is the toughest, take some responsibility. You cant automate and outsource everything. Just like the football game, the last two yards might come down to you.
    • Focus on priorities here. Some things matter and some just don’t. What matters to you and what you can control should receive the focus here.
    • Know it will not be easy. Paying off debt versus continuing to spend is not an easy thing to do.  It’s harder to send the $5k to the credit card company today versus booking the vacation in Cancun, but one will likely execute on your game plan far better.  The best stuff is not always the easy stuff.
    • Be accountable.  The great thing about a good coach is that they are open when players come to them with a problem. Maybe your planner cannot manage one of your employees for you or deal with a family member holding up the entire family estate, but they may shed some light on it. Help with experiences they’ve seen with clients in similar circumstances and perhaps just offer perspective.

I’m looking forward to the game this weekend and like anyone I get caught up in the euphoria around the offense and the quarterbacks. As we’re watching though, let’s remember that Brock Purdy’s arm is not going to be the sole reason for success or failure. There was a gameplan developed long before game day. There are calls to be made every minute of gametime. There are tackles to finish, blocks to be made, punt coverages to maintain, and shotgun snaps to deliver. There is also what Taylor Swift wants (just kidding)! The next time your under center and feeling pressure in your financial life, know you’re not there alone. It’s not you versus everything, you have the team you’ve built up all around you.

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