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Practice Management

November 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Spending my career in the financial services business has afforded many great opportunities, frankly I believe it is one of the greatest careers one could choose. However, over the years I have seen it done well and sometimes not so well! Being allowed to write for Financial Planning Magazine has allowed me to document some of these thoughts and concepts. Below are some of the Best Practices that I have learned and worked to implement into mine and my fellow consultants practice at DDS Financial.

Articles Below:


Audit, Embrace It!

Most cringe at the word, Audit, however this type of Audit should be added to your overall planning practice.

How Advisors Become a Triple Threat

For years, advisors have waffled their way into utilizing social media, but most are failing.

What it Takes to Build a Family Office

Wealth managers are still struggling to create a full-service family office practice on a mass scale primarily because most advisors still aren’t taking the entire family into consideration. Here are some ideas that can help.

Why Independence?

At Ashworth and Sullivan we have been asked numerous times why we chose to become an independent planning firm. It’s the best choice we have ever made and here are the reasons why we made the move.

The Turnaround Artist

The 5 ideas that we learned from Jim Pohlad, owner of The Minnesota Twins. How he turned the franchise around could/should be a guide for every small business owner. See if these ideas could help your practice.

Stay Current

I am often asked, “What do you read on a daily basis?” This post identifies some of the material that i look at first in order to stay current.

Do The Math!

The math of any plan is important, but not the only facet to consider when planning. Here are 5 on-line calculators to help better do the math of planning.

Retirement Planning Atop The Three Legged Stool

Retirement Planning can get complicated; Here is a way to simplify the thought process for your clients. Focusing on three areas, Lifetime Income, Long Term Care planning and Legacy building will help you to get started with the important matters first.


The January Effect

January 23, 2012 — Leave a comment



Weekly Update – January 23, 2012


There’s an old adage you may have heard recently which says: “As goes January, so goes the year.” What is this January barometer all about? According to the Stock Traders Almanac, the month of January tends to predict the direction of the market with an 88.5% accuracy ratio, with only seven major errors record since 1950.[i] Those aren’t bad numbers.


What causes the “January effect”? Most sources attribute it to a calendar-related anomaly in the financial markets where security prices increase in the month of January because investors sell losing positions in December and reposition themselves after the first of the year, or vice-versa.[ii] While this is certainly not exact science, and it is far too early to know if January will accurately predict the rest of the year, it is interesting to note.


So far, the Bulls are really showing off. With seven trading days left to go in January, the benchmark indexes are all up between 4% and 7%. The S&P 500’s 4.5% YTD gain marks its best start since 1987![iii] So does this bull have legs? Skeptics will tell you it doesn’t and idealists will tell you it does. We’d like to tell you that we don’t know. We’re not clairvoyant. (Sorry, we know you wish we were.) What we do know is that markets don’t move up or down in a straight line, and we won’t be surprised if we experience a pullback in the weeks ahead. This is not something we fear; it’s just the nature of the stock market.


There are both positive and negative factors at work right now, and we are monitoring many of them. Europe is still on the map, and our economy is growing at a slower-than-average rate that leaves it somewhat vulnerable to external shocks. At the same time, we see the strengthening in various sectors such as financials, basic materials, durable goods, and technology[iv] as reasons to sustain our optimism that both the stock market and the economy will fare well in 2012.



Tuesday – Redbook
Wednesday – Pending Home Sales Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement 

Thursday – Durable Goods Orders, Jobless Claims, New Home Sales, Leading Indicators

Friday – GDP, Consumer Sentiment


Would you like to discuss your portfolio of investments and what is impacting it? 



Forsyth County News (Cumming, GA)

Personal Finance Fiscal Shape-Up
Winter time to re-evaluate money matters
Crystal Ledford
Published: January 12, 2012


As a follow up to the News Years Resolutions article from Crystal Ledford on January 1, 2012, Crystal has taken a closer look at Financial Planning in the new year. Read this Forsth News article that appeared in print on January 12, 2012.


Everyone knows the start of a new year is a time to think about health. According to local financial advisers, it’s also a time when many people do want to get themselves in better fiscal shape.


“Our advice would be the same regardless of the time of year,” said Todd Burkhalter, a managing partner with Catalyst Wealth Management in south Forsyth. “But this time of year is a natural break for people. It’s time for a fresh start.”


Burkhalter’s partner, David Pierce, said December and January are often some of the busiest times of the year for financial advisers.


“People have a little time off and they just got forms from their [human resources] department, so they start thinking about questions they might have or planning considerations,” Pierce said.


David Leathers, a financial adviser with LPL Financial in downtown Cumming, agreed.


“Typically, now is the time to reach out to clients and schedule time for an annual review,” Leathers said. “Typically, right after the start of a new year, you want to look at all the information from the previous year and see where you can make adjustments for the following year.”


All the financial advisers agreed that when starting to focus more on finances, people should get some advice.


Burkhalter and Pierce said financial advisers can help guide people toward better fiscal decisions.


“We can help them identify their wealth objectives and get them to better narrow things down to reach whatever they’re trying to accomplish,” Burkhalter said.


Added Pierce: “It’s like a lens or a filter. We can run many experiments on paper to find what the best scenarios are for their individual needs.”




While he had a good handle on his financial life, customer Jack Lyons said he found greater insight when he started using a financial adviser.


“These folks help break things down and find the gaps in your plan,” Lyons said. “They helped me find places where I could be saving more and planning better for my retirement.”


But that advice doesn’t always have to come from professionals. 


Burkhalter said sometimes a family member or friend can also help.


“A lot of times, it’s just getting another set of eyes on what you’re doing,” he said.


Pierce said one situation that often bothers him is older generations not sharing their wisdom with descendants.


“It’s important for different generations to speak to each other about money,” he said, noting that same goes for married couples.


“When you’re a married couple, you’re a team and you’re against things that take away your wealth together, so don’t point fingers,” he said. “Get on the same team.”


Pierce said often one partner will manage all the finances, but that’s a bad idea.


“It’s important for both to be aware of all the finances.”


When getting started, Leathers said the first step is learning to live on a budget.


“You have to learn how to create and live within a budget, and that can be the hardest part,” he said.


An important part of the budget should be setting aside funds for paying down debt.


Leathers said while some debt makes sense, high interest loans, such as credit cards, should be paid off as quickly as possible.


“Certain debts make sense, like mortgages,” Leathers said. “You can borrow a 30-year loan for 3.9 percent and that’s a manageable debt.”


But credit cards, which typically carry interest rates from 16 to 20 percent, don’t make sense, Leathers said.


While paying down high-interest debt should be a priority, savings shouldn’t be overlooked.


“It needs to be some combination of saving and paying off debt,” Burkhalter said. “If you get all you’re debt paid off, but have no savings and then have some emergency, you’re going to be right back in debt because you’re going to have to go to a credit card or some other loan.”


Burkhalter said a long-term goal is to be able to save at least 15 percent of one’s income.


“But the main thing is to just get started,” he said. “You’re probably not going to be able to go from saving nothing to saving 15 percent of your income, but maybe you can save 1 percent.”


Leathers added that it’s important to set realistic goals.


“If you have a handful of credit cards, make an effort to get one paid off and make it go away, things like that,” he said.


“You want to make goals that can be accomplished. Take baby steps.”


Copyright, 2012, Forsyth County News. All Rights Reserved.