The Dialogue with Russ Kefauver

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 85th installment visiting with Russ Kefauver, financial planner at Kefauver Financial Planning & Wealth Management which does thoughtful financial planning, investment advice and financial management.
 
Why is your company in business? The simple answer is 'People are living longer'. Three-decade retirements are no longer uncommon, and supporting three-decades of retirement income is the central financial planning problem of our time. With that in mind, we believe that every future can be improved with thoughtful financial planning, investment advice and financial management. And it’s not just about the technicalities of managing investments that will do the job. In our work together we focus as much on your life story we do the markets. That’s in order to understand important details needed for a thoughtful plan that forms the backbone of our work together. We want to understand what matters - hopes and possibilities. We call these the 'Big Ideas', and successful financial planning supports them. It also helps prevent overreactions to momentary market conditions or life stressors - what we call the 'Big Mistake'. We’re in business as much to help avoid that, as to improve the prospects for brighter futures through sound financial planning and management.
 
Describe what you do. We are convinced that successful investing involves consistent action toward life-long goals with a well-designed plan. So we help clients build and manage one that supports that, and that helps avoid mistakes. It’s a goal-focused and plan-driven approach - we don’t attempt to outguess the economy or the markets. The financial planning then becomes a comprehensive road map and guide as you set about achieving your lifetime financial goals. And planning is flexible - when your life situation or goals change, so does the planning we use to accommodate them. Our process includes advice and associated portfolio management, risk management, and other things you might expect, all in accordance with the evolving plan. In this way we help clients realize their big ideas, avoid big mistakes, and as we say, help folks enjoy more of life’s simple pleasures.
 
Describe your customers. Kefauver Financial Planning & Wealth Management tends to focus on the financial needs of families and professionals, especially those in what we call the eight critical years before retirement. Our clients come to us realizing that creating a lifetime financial and investment plan is not something that should be done alone and without a professional they trust. And once we move into the planning and management process, they look to us for help managing the plan, and even staying on it when that's not easy to do. Ultimately, we work with those who look to us for serious planning and investment assistance, and we strive to give them the attentiveness deserving of that important honor.
 
How do the ecnonmic and political environments affect your business? The U.S. economy is one of the most resilient the world has ever seen. Through thick and thin, one crisis after another, one election cycle after another, it ebbs and flows, contracts, and bounces back again, and again. And yet, the news and financial media will have you believe that there is always another crisis, another issue casting doubt, or even another can’t miss opportunity, right around the corner. To all of that, I say this: Ignore it, and stick to your plan. We do want to be aware of the world around us, and no plan is cast in stone. But if your life goals haven’t changed much, your long-term plan shouldn’t change much either - regardless of the noise.
 
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1. I wish I had taken it to heart sooner that financial markets can't be timed with any consistency. We don't know when it's the right time to be in and out of the markets, and I'm happy to report no one else does either. It is not important and thank goodness it isn’t, because nobody can do it. Read almost any of Warren Buffett’s annual reports, and he’ll proudly tell you he can’t time the market, and never tries.

2. I also wish I learned right off the bat that it's impossible to consistently pick the "best investments" and build portfolios that "outperform". Those are the type of ideas that sell books, not that produce successful financial outcomes. Understanding this could give many a head start on building a financial planning business centered around the concepts that really matter, instead of those that don’t.

3. Critically, I’m glad that it didn’t take very long to realize that fees are often under-emphasized by so many advisors. This should have been emphasized in my early training, but wasn’t. What you’re being charged for the services provided has to be fair, transparent, and understood clearly. The entire financial industry is rife with fees that are difficult to see or understand, and that may not be commensurate with the services actually received. We do our best to disclose these things, use a fair fee structure, and make sure clients understand what they’re paying for, and that fees do matter.
 
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