2023 was an eventful year for Birds Eye Wealth Planning. Over the last few years, I had seen the tides beginning to shift in the industry. I wrote about this extensively in my state of the union blog last year. As Regulation Best Interest was implemented by FINRA, the financial industry came under more scrutiny than ever before. As usual, new laws were written by politicians who had never been in the industry. In my opinion, these changes did nothing to help the client, it just created paperwork that looked like a mortgage application to open a simple IRA. This was one of a long list of reasons for my transition to full Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) underneath the Wealthcare umbrella back in July. With that move, I am now underneath the purview of the SEC and not FINRA, and more importantly, work under a full fiduciary standard. If you want to hear all the boring details feel free to call me. The bottom line is Brendan and I both dropped our series 7, will not do commission business anymore and have moved to a fee only model as fiduciaries. This move has opened a new world of options for me to provide to you as the client that I would like to share.
A big part of my decision to move to Wealthcare was the technology and partnerships they offered. They have a proprietary financial planning software called GDX 360 that I was immediately drawn to. The software is extremely user friendly and easily digestible. Once the plan is established you are given a “Comfort Zone” score which measures your probability of success. As the client, you also have a personalized website to view the plan we have created as well as link outside accounts should you want a full (Birds Eye) picture of your finances.
Wealthcare is a leader in utilizing AI and algorithms so I now have strategies in which moves to cash can be instantaneous should trouble in the market dictate that.
I have also begun transitioning a lot of assets to Charles Schwab platform. As I mentioned above, the Schwab/Wealthcare alliance allows me to be more nimble with your investments by utilizing AI. The platform fees are lower cost than I was able to provide at SEI. Additionally, the level of service has been so much better behind the scenes for myself, Brendan and Judy.
Holistiplan – I have partnered with a tax planning software company called Holistiplan. It’s an incredible tool that allows me to scan in your tax return and the system analyzes the return for potential areas that were missed or not utilized to the maximum allowed by the tax code. It also provides a great deliverable with observations you can bring to your accountant. This is not a system intended to supplant your accountant. It’s simply utilizing technology to work WITH your accountant to make sure you are taking advantage of any and all tax strategies. This is an incredible that is for Birds Eye clients.
StoneCastle – I’ve partnered with StoneCastle to provide cash management options. StoneCastle is an NYC based “bank of banks” that can only be accessed through your advisor. They partner with banks all over the country, spreading risk, optimizing yield and can insure up to $25 million dollars in FDIC insurance. They are currently paying 5% on cash accounts and there are no fees or platform charges. The only caveat is that the account minimum to open is $100K. The balance can drop below that but $100K is required for the initial opening. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the current interest rates while staying fully liquid unlike a CD.
CD opportunities – The Schwab platform now allows me to help you in the Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) space. So, if you have CD’s coming due soon and would like to explore alternative interest rate options don’t hesitate to contact me. There is no fee or charge for this as well.
Trust & Wills – Estate Planning is always something I discuss but I see it put off more often than not. I have been looking for a solution that will help us get these vital documents in place. I was able to partner with Trust & Wills so that we can get at least your basic documents in place. By utilizing your personalized link through Birds Eye, you also will recognize a significant discount on your pricing. For a married couple to complete all 3 relevant documents it’s only $233! In comparison, an attorney in this area will probably charge between $600-$1,000.
I want to thank all of you for being part of the Birds Eye family. Obviously 2022 was not a fun year. We had a lot of anxious phone calls, but we have seen a great bounce back in 2023. I appreciate the trust you put into our team and am always here to give you the best opportunity for success. As I have said before, I am constantly on the lookout to improve your experience and provide options for every part of your financial life. A lot of what I discussed above is accomplishing just that.
As usual, a huge shout out to Judy for everything she does. She keeps this whole thing running so I can do what I enjoy most, which is meeting with you. A big congratulations to Brendan on his first year complete with all his licenses. It’s a great partnership and I couldn’t be happier with our team. I will end this blog as I did last year. I need to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Birds Eye doesn’t exist without the trust you put in me and the team to manage your financial plan. While I truly believe we are the most dedicated at what we do, there is always room for improvement. Any feedback, both good and bad, is always welcome. I’m here to serve you.