Category: Blog

When Your Career Conflicts With Your Values, Where Do You Turn?

Published in: Blog |

The American author, Annie Dillard, once said: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, our careers comprise a significant portion of our time, which means our work is integral to how we live our lives day in and day out.

At The Humphreys Group, we are fueled by the work we do for our clients every day. Our advisors are inspired by a set of shared core workplace values to do their best, and we consistently encourage our clients to establish the values that guide their professional, personal and financial goals.

But what if your career no longer fits your values? What if you’ve lost a sense of purpose or direction in your work? What if you don’t feel the connection to your career that you once did? What if you lack the motivation that has driven you in the past?

Given that women today will sustain diverse professional lives and increasingly seek active retirements, this phenomenon is more common than many of us may realize. The first step toward improving the situation is to begin by examining one’s intrinsic and extrinsic goals and values.

Intrinsic values are those unique and personal factors that motivate individuals and contribute to their feelings of fulfillment at work (i.e., improving lives, creative expression, mentoring role, etc.). Conversely, extrinsic values are those that relate to the tangible rewards of employment and one’s specific workplace (pay and benefits, influencing the industry, collaboration, innovation, etc.). Having a strong understanding of your intrinsic and extrinsic values will allow you to better pinpoint what your career may (or may not) be missing, and how you can better fuel what drives your need for purpose and security.

Next, we turn to other experts who offer suggestions that help individuals explore their goals and values; develop a stronger sense of at-work purpose; clarify their career direction; and foster long-term financial security. These suggestions include:

  • Identifying your core values and determining how they influence or fit your current career and goals. This list may help.
  • Examining your organization’s values. This list may help.
  • Seeking overlap between your values and your workplace’s values. This can help you develop a plan to nurture those connections at your current job and strengthen your career goals.
  • Consider whether a workplace or career change may be necessary. Sometimes an individual’s career and goals no longer fit their values, and it’s better for all involved to re-align.

The values we have established at The Humphreys Group guide and strengthen our daily work, our company goals and our client relationships. We welcome the opportunity to help you do the same. Contact us today for assistance with developing strategies that ensure your values are supporting your goals — at work, in life and with your finances.

Why Women Are Natural Long-Term Investors

Published in: Blog |

Many of us have heard the expression, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” when faced with adjusting our attitudes to meet a long-term challenge. We at The Humphreys Group have been thinking how these words also apply to individuals and couples who aim to develop winning, long-term financial plans, and to female investors in particular.

Consider the notable lesson learned from participants in the 2018 Boston Marathon, where more women literally “went the distance” than men and gained the attention of multiple observers for doing so. Female participants — in one of the most grueling and well-known 26.2 mile races in the United States — lasted longer and finished in greater numbers when bad weather led to increasingly challenging course conditions; just 3.8 percent of women dropped from the race, compared to 5 percent of male runners.

The stamina of female marathoners did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the race, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Lindsey Crouse, a runner and NYT senior staff editor, who asserted the idea (and added related links) that women have the capacity to withstand both physical challenges and mental stresses for long periods of time — in some cases much longer than men.

In an article for Business Insider several months later, Shana Lebowitz explored the theory that women may be more driven to complete a race as their end goal, whereas men tend to want to win a race above all else. Drawing a connection between women’s racing mindset and other areas where women exhibit an attitude that relies on mental staying power, she noted: “And the implications of this gender difference go beyond marathons, or athletic prowess.”

Backing up Lebowitz’s observation are those who’ve examined the possible relationship between gender and financial investing traits. Some writers have noted differences between women and men when it comes to money-related decisions and provide evidence that women investors exhibit marathon-like behaviors when it comes to investing: they make steady choices that will result in bigger long-term financial gains and stability, and react to setbacks with less stress and emotion that men.

Others assert that the concerns some women voice about their supposed lack of investing abilities are not strongly supported. MarketWatch emphasizes that, despite professing lower levels of confidence in their investing abilities and exhibiting more risk-averse tendencies when it comes to investing, women generally possess the characteristics of solid long-term investors.

The 2020 Boston Marathon is still months away. We can’t predict April’s weather conditions, but everyone who persists toward that finish line is a winner in our book. In the spirit of those who are preparing to travel a lengthy course — including a financial one — we encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group to see how we can help you stay on track and go the distance with your investment strategy.

To Bring Your Financial Goals to Life, Get Strategic

Published in: Blog |

Our last blog focused on suggesting that clients examine whether their priorities and goals need a reset at this point of the year. This can be challenging and emotional work, but when it comes to setting and achieving goals, the accomplished marathoner Juma Ikangaa says it best: “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”

We at The Humphreys Group believe in preparation; we provide clients with specific steps for reaching their goals and gaining a clearer understanding of how their financial strategy can help them do so:

  • Provide a brief description of/reason for each goal. Some suggestions include: “increase current financial security,” “build retirement savings,” “strengthen family ties,” “bolster emergency funds” “pay off debt,” “afford travel,” “fund education/personal development,” etc.
  • Assess how much time, energy and any other additional resources (such as education/training) are required to reach each goal.
  • Estimate the amount of financial earnings, savings and/or investment required to achieve each goal. Begin with a “guesstimate.” We advise that these numbers can always be refined as clients gain more information and work with their advisor to understand what it will take financially to meet their goals.
  • Assign a priority status of “A,” “B” or “C” to each goal and determine the length of time you want to commit to reaching each goal. Having a sense of how important the goal is and how long it may take to achieve can help prevent feeling overwhelmed or under pressure to reach each goal. Suggested timeline categories include: Immediate Goals and Priorities; Short-Term to Mid-Term Goals and Priorities (1 to 5 Years); and Long-Term Goals and Priorities (5 Years or Longer)
  • Consider that priorities may shift. Remember, it’s okay to press “reset” from time to time!

At The Humphreys Group, we believe that priorities and financial goals can give shape to actions, and help provide long-term calm and security in our clients’ lives. We help clients prepare for success by reviewing what meeting their goals will cost in terms of their time, attention, energy and money. Contact us today to learn how you can give life to your goals with a well-prepared financial strategy.

Beating the “Dog Days of Summer”: Do Your Priorities and Goals Need a Reset?

Published in: Blog |

We’ve reached the “dog days of summer” — the time of year when ancient Greeks observed the bright Dog Star in the skies above them, and worried that uncertain times might soon follow its appearance. The constellations have shifted slightly over millennia but, by the time August arrives, many of us are still concerned about what the coming months will bring to our lives. At The Humphreys Group, we think now is the perfect time to decide whether our priorities and goals need a reset; doing so can ensure we move forward through the remaining year with renewed purpose and focus.

Here’s a quick summary of how we help clients determine if they need to rethink their priorities and goals and reset their course for the months ahead:

Priorities

  • Career and family top many people’s lists, but we also recommend a closer analysis of other life components including: health and fitness; financial well-being; leisure opportunities; creativity and educational enrichment; self-care and community ties.
  • We ask clients to review the time and energy they spend on these aspects of their lives and how satisfied they are in doing so.
  • To support clients as they clarify their priorities, we encourage them to establish the areas of their lives where they want to spend as much or more time.

Goals

  • Once clients gain a clearer sense of where their life priorities lie, and whether they want to make adjustments to those priorities, we guide them toward attainable goals.
  • We refer to a variety of tips and strategies that begin with developing “big picture, long-term goals” (such as a five-year plan), then strive to make those goals attainable on a yearly and monthly basis.
  • We explore whether the motivation for achieving their goals is intrinsic (sparked by personal drive or dreams of satisfaction), extrinsic (expectations outside of ourselves influenced by societal, professional or familial reward) or a combination of both.
  • In each instance, we acknowledge that we are doing challenging, sometimes emotional work. We embrace both the emotional and rational aspects of setting priorities and goals as we thoroughly discuss, analyze and make projections about how clarifying priorities and attaining goals may affect each client’s future.

The world has come a long way since the star-filled nights of ancient Greece, but we can continue to take time to reflect on what lies ahead for us. We support individuals’ modern-day efforts to examine their priorities and goals, and we possess the knowledge and experience to help our clients reset them in positive and proactive ways.

Contact The Humphreys Group today for more information about the strategies we use.

How to Cope with the Emotional Impact of an Inheritance

Published in: Blog |

Many of us would like to believe otherwise, but our experience and research at The Humphreys Group shows that a person’s feelings and attitudes about money can affect their approach to financial planning. We’ve also seen how emotions may exert an even stronger influence on those who’ve received an inheritance; in response, we offer our clients several strategies to help them navigate the choices and decisions that arise from inheriting a financial gift.

  • Take time – time to grieve, to remember and to appreciate the person from whom you’ve received your inheritance. Allow yourself to adjust to new life circumstances that the person’s passing, and their gift, may cause. Don’t rush toward decisions without processing your emotions.
  • Begin to assess your financial situation when you feel emotionally ready. Review your debts, your dreams and your goals. Consider how your inheritance may help you address these.
  • Consult with trusted family members about your possible next steps. Will you use your inheritance to pay your debts down (or off)? Will you set aside funds for a child or grandchild’s education? Will you put money toward retirement? Will you direct monies toward a charity? Will you use some of the funds to travel? Explore some combination of these or other potential courses of action.
  • Work with a financial advisor to develop a long-term financial plan for making the most of your inheritance. You should also meet with your accountant and attorney to fully understand the ramifications — for instance, taxes and legal issues — related to your inheritance.
  • Resolve to review your plan, with both family members and professional advisors, on a regular basis. Checking in with these parties from time to time will help ensure that you are thoughtfully and clearly making the most of the empowering gift that an inheritance can be.

At The Humphreys Group, we realize money is an emotional issue for many people. We also know that receiving an inheritance while dealing with the passing of a loved one can heighten the emotionally-charged stakes of managing individual and/or household finances. We have the knowledge and expertise to offer assurances and strategies on how to approach financial planning in light of an inheritance. Contact our advisors today to begin the conversation.

Your Estate Plan and Your Children: What to Say and When

Published in: Blog |

We know conversations about finances and estate planning have great potential to be an “elephant in the room” for many of us, especially when it comes to conversations between aging adults and their grown children. Data from a TIAA study in 2017 showed between 75%-85% of parents and children consider financial discussions very important, but only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children were likely to initiate talk about money and estate matters.

And when families do talk about money matters? Only 9% of parents felt their conversation was very detailed, perhaps due to another statistic: 90% of parents and 70% of children said conversations about their parents’ finances and future plans happened spontaneously. However, those parents and grown children who interacted regularly and purposefully with each other to talk about their plans and wishes reported overall high levels of satisfaction about doing so.

We recommend three steps you can take to address the potential “elephant in the room”:

Step 1: Reflect

Resolve to begin detailed conversations with your children to address your financial well-being and estate plan. You should also consider what issues related to money may be challenging for you to express, as well as what kinds of responses may be difficult to handle.

It takes courage to deal with the variety of approaches, attitudes and expectations each person holds about money. Before you engage with your children, spend time thinking about your approach to and experiences with savings, spending and investing; understand how that may influence the tone and direction of your conversations.

Step 2: Prepare

Plan to talk to your children when there is ample time to calmly discuss your estate plan and any issues that may arise. Practice what you want to share, by writing it down and rehearsing. Also, be willing to ask your children even the most seemingly obvious finance-related questions. We’ve developed this list of potential questions; begin with easier topics and progress to more complex ones:

  • What have you learned from my/our example of handling finances?
  • Do you know what I/we want to do in retirement?
  • Are you interested in knowing what’s in my/our will?
  • Do you know what I/we plan to do with our property?
  • Do you know about our philanthropic goals and what we support?
  • Do you know where to find pertinent information for addressing any requirements of you?
  • Are you interested in meeting my/our financial advisor to learn more about our plans?
  • Are you aware of the things I/we pay for, today?
  • Would you be able to take those costs on if I/we weren’t able to support them anymore?
  • Do you think you’ll need my/our financial help down the road, whether it’s for smaller monthly expenses, or larger ones such as a down payment?
  • Would it matter to you if I/we used our savings for travel and leisure instead of helping with your expenses?
  • If I/we needed help paying for long-term care down the road, would you consider helping cover medical bills?

Step 3: Schedule

Agree on the time, financial topic, location and length of your discussion to help all parties remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the conversation. As a family, commit to continuing your conversations about money and estate planning — for instance, you could develop a schedule for ongoing dialogue.

During scheduled conversations with your children, revisit your financial situation and, if necessary, bring up “next topics” related to your estate plan and investments. You may also consider working with a financial advisor who can assist with keeping your conversations about finances focused and productive.

Because many of us only talk about money when we have to, money conversations usually happen in the heat of the moment or when there is pressure to make a decision. Knowing when, where and with whom you will be talking about finances, and being intentional about the conversation topic and scope, can significantly improve both short- and long-term outcomes when it comes to the parent/child dynamic.

Remember, even the smallest of elephants grows larger with time — and trying to ignore it does not help move it out of the room. Contact The Humphreys Group for further advice on how you can best talk with your children about money matters.

Estate Planning Is Essential — But Even More So for Women

Published in: Blog |

When it comes to women and estate planning, we at The Humphreys Group agree with the prevailing wisdom among financial experts: Women should be advised and empowered to develop estate plans that reflect their unique life experiences. In many cases, this means the focus of a woman’s estate plan will differ from a man’s estate plan. Let’s discuss why:

Women today lead dynamic and complex work lives. More than ever, and in all aspects of society, working women are forging ahead with their professional careers. However, many women also continue to step out of the paid workforce for periods of time — most often to care for children or other family members. Such variances in employment can potentially impact a woman’s financial well-being in ways that may include lower earnings, less money in savings and fewer profitable investments over a lifetime. This means estate planning plays an important role in ensuring every woman’s long-term economic security.

Women often live longer than their partners. It’s meaningful to keep in mind that most women who lose a partner usually take over their own financial destinies, and also ultimately determine how they will allocate their finances to other family members, taxes, charities and additional sources. Should such a situation occur, it’s helpful for a woman to be prepared and to know what to expect from her estate planning efforts.

What does estate planning that incorporates a woman’s point of view look like? We encourage you to explore the articles we’ve linked to in this blog post, in addition to considering a few takeaways:

  • Develop a will, a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. These core documents are a good place to begin the estate planning journey. Women should make sure any estate planning-related paperwork reflects how they specifically wish to designate and delegate their personal and financial assets and, should the need arise, health care on their behalf.
  • Operate with a sense of security, confidence and planning. Advisors recommend that one should secure any information related to their estate plan for safekeeping and note that information about accounts and documents should be shared with a limited number of trusted individuals, among them a financial advisor. Further advice: Hold conversations with relevant family members about your estate plan long before the plan is enacted. Topics to address might include business succession plans, inheritances or proposed charitable giving.

We believe women are best served when they are knowledgeable about their family finances as well as in charge of their individual financial responsibilities and strategies. Contact The Humphreys Group to learn more about how estate planning can benefit you.

Diane Bourdo Speaks to Ellevate Network About Women’s Financial Empowerment

Published in: Blog |

From pop culture to the talking heads you see on nightly financial news programs, the investment world has long been characterized by a certain type of imagery. You know what we’re talking about: Men in suits spouting off tips about the next “hot stock.” Men on the trading floor, surrounded by ticker tape and loud bells.

What’s the common feature in each of these images? Men. Women are never included in these depictions, which has given way to a systemic bias, constructed since the early days of Wall Street: Women don’t — and shouldn’t — invest.

But the problem with that bias (beyond the obvious)? It simply isn’t true. A recent Fidelity Investments study showed that women investors actually outperform male investors by 0.4%. Moreover, women trade less often, react more patiently to market volatility and are less focused on achieving “social status” benchmarks, such as “beating an index.”

Yet, there is still a common perception among women that assumes the opposite. For instance, in the same Fidelity Investments Study, only 9% of women believed they could outperform men in investing. So, how can we change the conversation?

Last week, I teamed up with Ellevate to work hand-in-hand with a small group of women who were seeking financial empowerment and guidance. During the event, I shared some cornerstone financial skills and insights; guided participants through fundamental financial planning exercises; and helped them discover some inspiration that lies in the possibility of financial security.

Here are a few key points from our discussion:

Financial Planning 101

At The Humphreys Group, we have always believed in the importance of establishing financial goals that match up with your values — these are the people, priorities and ideals that matter most to you. Taking this approach allows you to gain a more holistic, big-picture view of your financial future and sets you on a more rewarding and intentional path toward achieving your goals.

After discussing this approach with the group, we broke down financial planning to a more granular level, introducing the concept of the “financial dashboard”: A top-level view of the key figures you can use to identify your level of financial wellness, including income, expenses and net worth. Today, there are plenty of convenient, digital tools you can use to keep a pulse on your financial dashboard, such as Mint, YouNeedaBudget and Tillerhq. By focusing on the basics of financial planning first, we set a strong foundation for the next segment of our discussion:

Investing 101

“Should you invest or save?” “Why invest in the first place?” We kicked off our discussion on this topic by answering some of the questions that all new investors face.

At its most basic level, investing is the process of buying an asset for the potential of it growing in value. As opposed to saving, investing gives you the valuable opportunity to grow your wealth over time — and regardless of what goals you have set for the future, it’s important to start investing early, proportional to your time horizon and tolerance for risk.

After reviewing some basic, yet essential investment principles, we discussed some critical steps all women should take to maximize their savings for one of the most important milestones they’ll face: retirement. Two basic steps include:

    • Maximizing Your Employer Match: Make sure you have a strong understanding of what your company offers, in terms of matching contributions, and how that affects your retirement goals.
    • Choose Your Retirement Accounts Wisely: Before jumping straight into some of the most typical savings vehicles, such as a 401(k) or a standard savings account, take time to research and evaluate your options. Review your potential tax liability with each account before making a final decision.

Take Control Over Your Financial Life 

Beyond the practices of financial planning and investing, there are countless other financial issues and challenges that affect our day-to-day lives. Should you pay off your debt or invest in a retirement account? Should you direct your savings toward your children’s college education or stock them away for your future retirement? What about insurance against unexpected events? Planning for future health care expenses?

The answers to these questions are different for every woman — because every financial situation is unique. Of course, there are general guidelines and principles that can help you get a better grasp on your money and empower you to make the most informed decisions.

The most important step is to simply get started. If you need a resource to help you put your best foot forward:

Check Out Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money”

Our new book debunks some of the problematic myths that have held women back from financial independence, while empowering you with practical solutions and actionable tips to take control of your financial life. We encourage you to download your free copy, and let us know what you think!

If you’re ready to learn more about financial planning and investing, we also encourage you to contact our team at The Humphreys Group. We can help answer your most pressing questions, and help you set and achieve your goals through the power of focused financial planning and disciplined asset management.

3 Tips to Manage Crucial Conversations With Your Parents

Published in: Blog |

We’ve acknowledged time and again that, for many of us and for a variety of complex reasons, it’s not easy to manage crucial conversations about finances with those closest to us; we also realize that talking about aging — especially when the topics are related to health care and money matters — can be difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.

As we observed in our previous post, conversations we have these days about aging and health care must account for several stark realities: Premium costs for long-term care policies have been steadily rising for decades. These costs will continue to rise as the populous baby boomer generation retires and draws on both public and private care benefits and, in general, as more Americans live longer.

We offer the following, additional pointers to help you start talking to your parents or other aging loved ones about long-term financial plans and health care:

  • Start broadly. At The Humphreys Group, we believe in examining how the “big picture” of our lives informs our financial planning. We encourage clients to examine their attitudes, goals, dream and values — not just about money, but about how these concepts guide both their short-term and long-term decisions. We encourage them to engage in similar discussions with the aging adults in their lives. (Again, most often, this will mean parents.)
  • Get specific. Once our clients are able to better understand their aging loved one’s outlook and approach to life and work, it’s time to ask more pointed questions related to the loved one’s financial health and plans. We recommend asking questions about savings and investment plans, debt load and estate plans; whether a loved one has sought professional financial advice, and health care preferences. The goal of these exchanges is to try to understand what resources are available for aging loved ones, including what they will be able to afford when it comes to their care.
  • Keep the conversation going. As financial experts, we know life, work and health conditions are subject to change, sometimes rapidly and dramatically so. With that in mind, we suggest that those who begin to ask about their loved one’s plans for aging continue to do so. This can help gauge whether or when an aging loved one may need to seek additional advice or assistance with their finances, investments and long-term health care.

With research that shows the nation’s retirement population is growing larger, living longer and requiring sustained health-related services, we believe it’s important to learn what kinds of care older loved ones want and can afford. Financial planning plays a role in talking about aging and health care, especially since rates for many long-term care insurance policies and related services are rising in response to aging trends.

You don’t have to do it alone. Contact The Humphreys Group to learn more about the steps you can take to help a loved one plan for their potential long-term health care needs and challenges.