At Topel & DiStasi, comprehensive financial consulting is the cornerstone of our wealth management approach. We believe that effective planning is an ongoing process that evolves over time through a partnership between client and trusted advisor, not a one-time, boiler plate production of statistics. We provide our clients with personalized, independent and actionable advice that reflects their specific circumstances and life goals.
Our proprietary planning approach helps our clients to determine and prioritize their financial objectives, and turns them into quantifiable benchmarks. Our planning techniques rigorously examine and filter data from all components of a client’s financial life to develop a framework for organizing and monitoring each area going forward. We use best-in-class tools and analytics to create a plan that will serve as the basic outline for all of our future strategies and recommendations. Because we understand that over time, the needs, goals and circumstances of each client will change, we continually update our plans to insure the integrity and relevance of the underlying assumptions.
A successful financial plan develops from a successful relationship between client and advisor. It will serve as a beacon in times of stress and volatility, but even more important is the ongoing partnership which truly drives the process and results. At Topel & DiStasi Wealth Management, we will be there with you every step of the way to see your plan through to its fruition.
Successful investment management involves exposing our clients to broad asset class diversification based on their specific goals, risk tolerance, and time-frame. Because we believe that emotion is the single biggest detriment to achieving positive long term returns, we employ a strategic asset allocation approach with a systematic re-balancing technique. By making investment decisions not based on what we believe will happen, but on what has happened, we remove the emotional decisions caused by swings in the markets and yet still take advantage of the natural volatility underlying them. There is an overwhelming body of evidence to suggest that accurately determining the direction of the markets in the near term on a consistent basis is highly unlikely. In addition, it can be costly and inefficient from a tax perspective. Instead, we coach our clients to expect and tolerate short term volatility to keep them from undoing or undermining the positive advantages of their long term investment strategies.
Tax consequences are considered for all of our investment recommendations, and special care is taken to ensure that investments are made in appropriate accounts, whether taxable or tax-deferred, resulting in the highest level of efficiency. Because we realize that over time, taxes and fees have a negative impact on returns, we frequently employ the use of exchange traded funds and indexes to increase the tax efficiency and lower overall investment costs to the client. In addition to ETFs and indexes, open and closed-end mutual funds, stocks, bonds, REIT's, alternatives, managed accounts and limited partnerships are all available on our investment platforms to fill allocations where appropriate.
At Topel & DiStasi Wealth Management, our open architecture allows us to offer investment management services on either a fee-only or commission basis, depending on the preference of the client.
We take great care in identifying and analyzing our client’s exposure to risk including property loss, liability, health, loss of life, disability and long-term care. Determining how to manage these risks is paramount in developing a successful plan, and is an integral part of our comprehensive planning process. In some cases our clients are in a position to ‘self-insure’ against these risks, but in many cases, insurance or some other structure is needed to help mitigate the negative effects of such exposure.
In our experience, the lack of adequate cash reserves and proper risk protection are the most common mistakes made in managing one’s financial plan. An unanticipated disability or long-term care need for example, can quickly do irreparable damage to a client’s investment program or retirement nest-egg. Our wealth management process places an emphasis on identifying risks and providing tailored solutions to address them.
When insurance solutions are needed, our firm has access to a broad selection of providers which allows us to shop for the right features and best pricing available on behalf of our clients. From simple insurance to complex estate planning strategies, our clients can be confident that they are receiving expert and unbiased guidance for their protection needs.
Clients face an ever changing and complex landscape when it comes to estate planning issues, which include a broad array of concerns and opportunities, including the use of wills and trusts, optimal forms of property ownership, appropriate beneficiary designations, estate and gift taxes, philanthropy and strategies for property transfer between family members and across generations.
Our team of Certified Estate Planners and Certified Financial Planners® works closely with our client’s attorneys and other representatives to ensure that we are all working in concert to create strategies that take advantage of opportunities and adequately address each client’s unique estate planning objectives.
If you do not currently have representation, we can also provide referrals to some of the most qualified estate planning specialists in the area to provide the necessary legal work.
Qualified Retirement Plans
At Topel & DiStasi we have extensive experience in setting up, monitoring and providing education for qualified retirement plans for small businesses, non-profit organizations and public companies. Our access to multiple providers allows us to tailor each plan to our client’s business, providing the features and benefits which are most important to them. Because we have no affiliation with the providers, we can work closely with our clients to identify their specific needs and challenges, have the providers compete for their business, and give truly unbiased advice in helping them select the plan that works best for them.
Once the plan is in place, we help each business develop a customized education and information strategy to insure that its employees get the most they can out of the plan. Many businesses define the success of their retirement plan by the level of employee participation, and while that is an important factor, we believe that a plan’s efficacy at replacing the retiree’s income stream is a far better barometer of plan success. For this reason, ongoing employee education and workplace financial planning play a lead role in our approach to servicing qualified retirement plans.
In addition to implementation, monitoring and education, we provide comprehensive financial advisory services to senior personnel as part of employer-sponsored compensation packages.
Socially Responsible Investing
Socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as socially conscious investing, is an investment strategy which is concerned with both the financial return and the overall social good of the underlying investments in a portfolio. Generally, socially responsible investors favor corporate practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights, and diversity. Some also seek to avoid businesses involved in areas of concern such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons and the military. In addition, there are numerous religious organizations that promote the exclusion of businesses engaged in areas which run contrary to their religious beliefs.
Socially responsible investing is not a new concept, extending from the Quakers in the 1700’s through the divesting efforts in South Africa in the 1990’s to today’s ‘Green’ movement. Over the past decade, however, socially conscious investing has grown substantially, and recent studies have significantly undermined the long-held belief that investors must be willing to settle for lagging investment returns to invest in a socially responsible manner.
At Topel & DiStasi Wealth Management, we support our clients who are committed to SRI by offering access to a large breadth of SRI options across our platforms. We start by helping clients frame their definition of social responsibility, and then use multiple screens to filter out the areas of concern and promote desired company attributes while filling out their allocations. While we do everything we can to apply the social agendas of our clients to their investments, it is important to remember that from a retail standpoint, socially conscious investing is still in its infancy. Compared to other more traditional investment vehicles, there are a relatively limited number of SRI options available. We remain committed to monitoring the rapid growth of this type of investing, and continually update our clients on new offerings and progress in the industry.