We’ve worked too hard to mess things up now!

“We’ve done well saving for retirement, but what happens if market returns are lower than expected? Will we have enough to maintain our lifestyle? Will we need to work longer?”

– James and Mary

Getting to know James and Mary – we understood their fears.

James and Mary were worried about the future. What if the market drops and doesn’t recover for ten or more years? What effect could low returns have on their investments and their retirement goals?

They were referred to us by friends who are also clients of Brilliant Advice. Although their portfolio had recovered, James was still scarred by the hit their investments took during the Great Recession of 2008.

They knew the closer they got to retirement, the less time they would have to recover from another drop in the markets, and that any mistakes going forward could be costly.

They realized their current financial advisor didn’t have the skills necessary to guide them through their next chapter in life. They would need an advisor who could help them develop a strategy for their stock options and also analyze some other more complex retirement assets.

They wanted reassurance they could retire in the next three to five years and still maintain their lifestyle.

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They had two big fears: a long-term market decline and choosing the wrong advisor to manage the complexity of their financial assets.

Together we crafted a plan – we showed them how to handle the inevitable market downturns.

We analyzed. We assessed their portfolio. We gathered their account statements and did a deep dive look into their investment portfolio. We analyzed their past investment results to see how their portfolio performed. We looked at how their portfolio was positioned, where the risks were, and if the risks were necessary to achieve their retirement goals. We then examined their portfolio’s expected return as it was currently positioned.

Our in-depth analysis showed James and Mary that they had opportunities available to improve their expected returns. We found ways to reduce the impact of taxes. We also considered their fees and expenses, and identified ways to reduce their costs without compromising their investment options or future return potential.

James and Mary had been sold an annuity by their advisor four years ago, when they were particularly concerned about the financial markets. It had appreciated by 8%, which equates to a return of only about 2% per year. This variable annuity product was saddled with total annual expenses of 2.5%. In addition to the annual expense headwind, many of the underlying subaccounts had performed very poorly. James and Mary were surprised to learn how much their advisor had received as a commission and they were disappointed by the annuity’s low returns. After this experience, their trust in professional advisors had been shaken.

We discovered that James and Mary had never gone through a comprehensive financial planning process. Their previous advisor had created what he called a “financial plan” ten years ago, but over the years as their financial situation changed their financial plan was never updated.

We went to work. James and Mary hired Brilliant Advice. They appreciated the time and attention we put into analyzing their portfolio and how we clearly outlined steps that could help them position and protect their investments from future market declines while giving them the retirement cash flow they needed to maintain their lifestyle.

“We feel that Brilliant Advice is the right firm for us. They understand our concerns and have the skills to help us with some complex issues. They helped give us the confidence we need as we approach retirement.”James and Mary

Our recommendations were backed up with sound reasoning that was delivered in a way they could fully understand.

We created a multi-year, disciplined strategy for James’ stock options. We projected different growth percentages for their options and examined the effects on their financial plan.

We discussed with James and Mary the choices available to them with their variable annuity – from using a product from a lower-cost annuity provider to surrendering the annuity and investing the proceeds.

We put their money into action – they have an investment strategy that responds well to market dislocations.

After completing a risk assessment, James and Mary agreed on the risk level that would give them the security they wanted with the investment results they needed. We developed an investment strategy that would allow them to maintain their current lifestyle throughout their retirement years, even if the financial markets were to experience long-term declines.

We used investment vehicles that are structurally designed to benefit from volatile markets and/or that are not affected by them.

James and Mary were also pleased to learn that Brilliant Advice does not receive any compensation from the investment product providers. They could see that our interests were aligned with theirs.

James and Mary confidently live their lives – they have a clear vision of their retirement lifestyle.

With our clear and transparent process James and Mary have come to trust us as their professional financial advisor who always acts in their best interest and is their true advocate.

We meet with James and Mary several times a year. Now, whenever the markets take a dip, they are confident their investments will be able to successfully weather the storm.

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How do we know who to trust?

We’ve built our business and worked hard. How do we get our money to work as hard as we have? There are so many different types of advisors, how do we know they are looking out for us?
Mike & Kimberly’s story…


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How do we tie it all together?

We think we’ve saved enough. We have many investment accounts spread out among different brokerage firms. We know we are not managing our accounts well, but we don’t have time to figure out a plan.
David & Jennifer’s story…


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Can we do it all?

Everyone depends on us – our children and our parents. We want to make sure our family is provided for but we also need to make sure we have enough as we age. How will the choices we make today impact our future?
Tony & Jackie’s story…



These case studies are hypothetical in nature, for illustrative purposes only, and should not be considered investment advice. The information is intended to illustrate services available at Brilliant Advice, and is not intended as a testimonial or endorsement of Brilliant Advice, as an investment advisor. These case studies do not necessarily represent the experiences of other clients, do not reflect actual investment results, nor is a guarantee of future results. The investment strategies discussed are not appropriate for every investor and take into consideration a client’s investment objectives and financial needs. Clients should review with Brilliant Advice the terms, conditions and risks involved with specific services and products.