Peaks & Valleys: What to Make Of Market Volatility?

If you pay any attention to the financial media, you’ve certainly been subject to panicked headlines about market volatility and what it means for your investments. At times like these, we think it’s important to look at the data and provide context for these market fluctuations.

We think the one-minute video below sums it up well, but we highly recommend checking out this article from Dimensional Fund Advisors for more in-depth analysis.

Conclusion: “While market volatility can be nerve-racking for investors, reacting emotionally and changing long-term investment strategies in response to short-term declines could prove more harmful than helpful. By adhering to a well-thoughtout investment plan, ideally agreed upon in advance of periods of volatility, investors may be better able to remain calm during periods of short-term uncertainty.”

3 Easy Ways To Experience Gratitude More Than Once A Year

The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is upon us, and winter weather has arrived with crisp mornings, muted red colors, and of course… Pumpkin Spice anything. Many of us spent last weekend gathered around a massive spread of food, enjoying some much-needed time with family and friends.

If your childhood was anything like mine, then you can remember being asked that question, “So, what are you thankful for? “ As I think back on my three brothers and I taking turns sharing around the table, I also remember how challenging it was to come up with a real answer.

I always had a cop-out answer, believe me, but it was difficult to think of something that felt authentic. I was thankful for my family, my XBOX, chocolate… you get the idea. Why was it hard to express gratitude?

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As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to work with clients in an environment where gratitude and contentment are often part of the conversation. Because of this, I’ve learned that gratitude, like any other skill, must be practiced.

I’ve also learned that practicing gratitude is a MUST for a more joyful and fulfilling life. No question about it.

So, here they are…

3 Easy Ways For You To Experience Gratitude More Than Just Once A Year.

  • Write It Down – Each day when you’re making your to-do lists, prepping for the day, or find a small break during work, write down three things you’re grateful for. These don’t have to be profound; keep it simple! Pausing once per day to think about the good in your life will improve your mood and outlook for the future.

 

  • Make It Known — One super simple way for you to experience gratitude AND share it with others is by telling people when you’re grateful for them or something they’ve done. It’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds, and it can be something small. But when a friend does something to contribute to your well-being, look them in the eye and tell them. You’ll both feel great!

 

  • Hold Onto The Small Stuff — Life can be hard. Sometimes things just don’t go your way and it’s hard to see the good in anything. My encouragement to you is to hold onto the small stuff. What are the often unnoticed things that are good in your life? Maybe it’s remembering that you have a reliable car to get around in. Maybe it’s as simple as a warm cup of coffee on a cold day. Perhaps you can focus on the simple fact that you have people you love, and love you in return. Life will find ways to knock you down, and remembering the small stuff can help you get back on your feet.

I hope you use this season to reflect on all that you have and how far you’ve come. There is so much to be grateful for, and the more you can experience gratitude, the better your life will be. I challenge you to try these 3 easy tips and begin living a more fulfilled and abundant life.

If you’d like to engage in a deeper conversation about gratitude, and crafting a Financial Life Plan that reflects your values, then Schedule A Free Intro Call Today!

Why Triune Has No Minimums

You’ve heard those annoying ads on the radio…

“If you have at least $500,000 of investable assets, give us a call!”

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What does that statement tell you about the firm that is doing the advertising? Perhaps it’s that a) they place their revenues ahead of their clients, or b) they don’t have time for what they would perceive to be “small potatoes.”

Triune believes that we are called to advise ALL who are referred to us. The Declaration of Independence states that we are all created equal by our Creator. Triune believes this, and has never seen fit to provide services to certain people but not others simply based upon the amount of their investable assets.

But at Triune, we have learned that when we truly serve and care for people, without bias as to the size of the account, it all seems to work out in ways FAR better than just making more money.

This philosophy has enabled us to provide services to people who are referred to us, regardless of their ability to pay. Further, it has spawned Triune’s Residency Program, enabling us to increase the depth of our financial advisor ranks.

By making a conscious decision to serve “whomever graces our doorstep” and making sure that Triune’s message is carried on to the next generation, we are growing newer advisors who have the time to work with those who have little or no assets, and who want to learn the timeless truths of sound financial wisdom from experienced Triune Partners who have “been there, done that.”

Bottom line: we welcome your introductions to people of any economic condition and are honored that you have chosen us to come alongside you on this journey.

We’re Looking For Our “Next Generation” Triune Advisor

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We’d like to be clear from the start – Triune is always looking for that exceptional individual to be our next Resident-in-training, in hopes of becoming a Triune Advisor and Partner in the future. We have determined that our growth needs to be organic so that we can train and develop our next generation according to our unique values and culture.

What are the characteristics of the person we are looking for?

  • Achievement motivated
  • Independent mindset
  • Enterprising nature
  • Seeks a calling as opposed to a job

We will do comprehensive testing on future candidates, to help us measure their achievement, independence, and enterprising potential as it relates to our profession. For the unique individual who makes the grade, we offer a generous salary as well as benefits. During the Residency Program, candidates will have hands-on training and mentoring by our Partners, and they will spend a lot of time in real-life financial life planning meetings.

Know someone? Let us know and we will be happy to begin a conversation with them. If this is not the career for them, we are always happy to do some “career counseling” that will hopefully direct them to the right career. Thank you for thinking of us!

Happy New (401k) Plan Year!

Where did the time go? It’s 2017 already – are you ready for the New Year?

Clients tell us that competition for top employee talent in the marketplace is intense. Congrats on offering a 401k Retirement Savings Plan to your team! Do you know how it “stacks-up”? Consider making a New Years Resolution to get answers to these questions:

  1. How is your performance?

Did you know the S&P 500 was up +12.0% for the calendar 2016? (Or that +5.0% of this was following the US Presidential Election on November 8…) BUT if you missed the 3 best percentage gains days in 2016, the +12.0% gain falls to +4.4%. WOW! Further, the S&P 500 has been “up” the past 8 consecutive years, 13 out of the last 14 years, and 40 of the past 50.1

  1. Do you know how much your 401k plan costs?

If not, don’t panic, you’re not alone. 401k providers can mask various plan costs. Record-keeping. Administration. Custody. Mutual fund costs + other investment expenses. Trading fees. Broker commissions or plan consultant fees. Perhaps an even more relevant question to ask is “How muchshould my plan cost?

  1. Do your employees give a hoot?

How engaged (or not) are your employees in saving for their retirement? Do they “get” how much you are contributing on their behalf in matching or profit sharing? Do they get answers to top questions, like How much should I be saving? Am I on-track? Should I use Pre-tax or Roth after-tax dollars? Remember the adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

  1. Do you expect to be audited?

Did you know 1 in 3 plan sponsors experienced a retirement plan audit by a government agency in the past 2 years.2(Not surprising, since the Obama administration beefed-up US Department of Labor staff.) Bottom line is BE PREPARED. Demand regular plan reviews from your advisor. Keep notes – or take Minutes. Know how much your plan costs. Remit employee deferrals timely. Have a written Investment Policy Statement – and follow it!

  1. Has your 401k advisor told you about the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule?

This sweeping reform is causing brokerage firms, insurance agencies and banks to decide how – or even “if” – they will permit their reps to continue to sell and service 401k Plans. Just recently, giants like Merrill Lynch & Edward Jones announced significantchanges to their policies. For example, Merrill says it will no longer allow its reps to be paid a commission on retirement plan accounts3. The rule is scheduled to kick-in on April 10, 20174 and will likely impact you. You deserve to know how.

 

—Geoff Huber, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CKA® leads Triune’s Corporate Retirement Plans practice. His partners and clients think of him as a “401k Geek” – and he’s proud of it! Triune Financial Partners, LLC is an independent financial advisory firm serving retirement plans, family businesses, professional practices and partnerships. We are your Partner in Conversation. Learn more about 401k Benchmarking here.

SOURCES:

  1. BTN Research; January 2, 2017.
  2. Willis, Towers, Watson; September 2016.
  3. Wall Street Journal; October 6, 2016.
  4. Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/fact-sheets/dol-final-rule-to-address-conflicts-of-interest.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Diversification neither assures a profit nor guarantees against loss in a declining market. Investing involves risks including potential loss of principal and fluctuating value. This content is provided for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as tax or legal advice, nor as an offer, solicitation, recommendation or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Triune Financial Partners, LLC is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copyright 2017, Triune Financial Partners, LLC. We are likely to allow you to reproduce – please just ask us first. Thank you.

Employee Benefits: Open Enrollment

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With employee benefit open enrollment season here for many employees, it is time once again to delve into the exciting world of employee benefits. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to find this exercise quite as exhilarating as we in the financial planning business do. A recent survey by Aflac found that 23% of respondents would rather clean their toilets than research their benefits. With the complexity of the health care and insurance industry in America today, this isn’t surprising. There are far too many variables to consider than could be covered in a short article, but there are a few broad themes to consider when you receive your 10-pound packet of information.

1. Be on the lookout for free money.

Companies will often try to steer employees in certain directions especially when it comes to health insurance by offering varying levels of employer participation in costs and even contributions to tax advantages plans like HSAs. While it is important to consider your personal situation and to discuss with a health insurance expert the merits of such plans, an intentional strategy that takes into account your health and financial situation may allow for big savings.

2. Consider your actual needs when reviewing disability insurance coverage.

In working with clients, I find that most people that I come into contact with may know some of the details of the life insurance provided through their employer but rarely know the specifics of disability insurance. Many employers now offer a “base” plan and a “buy-up” plan that cover perhaps 50% and 60% of income respectively. While it’s still important to consider your actual needs and the costs, getting the maximum amount of disability insurance through work is often a great way to go. More and more employers are also offering the ability to pay for these benefits with after-tax dollars. While this may mean more taxes now, should you make a claim, the payment would come to you tax free. The mistake that many employees (especially younger) make is thinking that group coverage alone is enough. I know very few young professionals that can live, save for retirement, continue health coverage and pay medical bills on 60% of their income. If you are one of the few that can – congratulations. If you are like most of us, consider looking into a supplemental policy that you own personally, as even a short “longer” term disability (greater than 90 days usually) can wreck an otherwise sound financial plan.

3. Compare group life insurance costs to private policies.

Many employers offer a small amount of term life coverage (perhaps 1x income or $50,000) as well as options to buy up additional coverage. When looking at purchasing additional insurance, it is important to consider both your needs with respect to amount and years of coverage as well as the cost now versus the cost in the future. Some buy-up programs have age bands that can be attractive at younger ages but can be cost prohibitive as one ages. Also, getting this coverage in place while you are young and healthy reduces the risk of not being able to obtain reasonably priced insurance later in life should health problems arise. Lastly, it is important to be intentional about considering the amount of insurance you need as rules of thumb don’t address specific situations.

4. Circling back to free money – take advantage of employer matching in retirement plans.

While some employers automatically enroll employees in retirement plans like 401(k)s to get the maximum employer match, many do not, and we see employees missing out on a “raise” of up to 5% or more in some cases by simply not taking advantage of this. While budgetary constraints may be prohibiting you from participating, consider the fact that an employee missing out on a 2.5% match for one year at a salary of $50,000 may be forgoing well over $5,000 of assets 20 years into the future. If you ever feel like you aren’t paid enough for your work, a great way to “stick it to the man” is to get all the free money you can.

It should go without saying that being intentional about getting the maximum value and protection out of coverage through work should be a top financial priority for many families. Since most of us would rather clean toilets however, we encourage you to reach out to us with questions in the coming months as you look at these opportunities. We are honored to be your Partners in Conversation!

Is Bigger Better?

Recently I noticed a local Kansas City business magazine’s list of the “Top 50 largest financial advisory firms” in the Kansas City Area.  I was led from there to the “fastest growing companies in Kansas City”.  I then was confronted with a billboard listing a local hospital as #1 in everything imaginable. When I turned on the radio I heard a commercial for a competing hospital saying that their cardiac results were the best in Kansas City. All of this has made me think about the time and effort and money that is spent to make a company look bigger and better than everyone else.

What is the result of this type of advertising and self-promotion besides adding more new customers? At the very least, it is a diversion of funds that could have been used for the servicing and care of clients in exchange for faster growth or a trophy that says they are the biggest or best. That seems like a pretty high price for “ego”! Towards the egregious side, it causes behaviors like this headline from the October 4, 2016 Wall Street Journal, “Morgan Stanley Faces Sales Contest Charges,” in which Morgan Stanley has been accused of paying bonuses to brokers to encourage them to promote securities-backed loans. In short, clients borrow against the value of their investments portfolios in order to win an internal “sales contest” that rewards the brokers financially.

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One of our favorite not-for-profits is The Global Orphan Project. 100% of donations go directly towards the care of orphans in Haiti and Africa as well as placing foster children in homes throughout the United States. The organization has been built through personal relationships without any advertising and with a commitment to provide the highest quality of care to those they serve. It is amazing how it has grown with that approach and how people flock to be involved.

So this had made me think about who we have been and what we want to be at Triune. We have made a decision to build our business on personal introductions from existing clients who know us and have a history with us. We have decided that our growth will be what it is supposed to be without any manipulation or self-promotion on our part. We will do our best to let our work and the care of our clients be our best advertising. We will accurately measure the results that our clients are receiving and will make no effort to embellish them. We will count our blessings for the opportunities that our clients and friends have given us and continue to be thankful that you have allowed us to come alongside you in achieving your personal financial goals. We are honored to be your partners in conversation. For us, that is much better than any list or billboard or media advertising that we could ever be a part of.

On behalf of Triune, we want to thank each of YOU for our success, as we know YOU are the reason we would have been on the list had we applied!

We've Moved!

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Big things are happening at Triune. Thanks to you, we are growing and expanding. From a new office, to a new partner, to the continued progress of our “Next Generation” financial planners, we have plenty to celebrate this summer – and we’re excited to share with you!

A new office in Lighton II

As we continue to grow together, we’re pleased to announce our move to a new, larger office space. We didn’t go too far — in fact, we moved right next door. (We are literally now a few steps from our previous location.) Our new home is in the identical twin building next door, Lighton II. Our address is 7400 College Blvd, Suite 300.

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Our new space gives our growing team the elbow room we need to serve you well – for example, we’ve grown from two conference rooms to four. We think you’ll like the easy access, right off the elevator, as well as the new design. Be sure to use the circle parking in front of the building for the most convenient access. We look forward to visiting with you in our new space and giving you a personal tour.

A new Partner: Bob Crew, CFP®, CFA, Certified Kingdom Advisor®

We are delighted to formally announce that Bob Crew has relocated to Kansas City from Wichita to become our newest Partner. Bob has deep roots with Geoff Huber and Jeff Jaworski, as they all three worked together in the early to mid 1990’s. Bob is truly gifted at serving clients with excellence! A Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner (CFP®), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and a Certified Kingdom Advisor®, Bob has 25 years of experience and has been with Triune as a Senior Financial Planner since 2009. His expertise includes charitable and planned giving, estate planning, and financial planning. We’re so pleased to welcome him and his wife, Sharon to Kansas City and to our Triune family.

Next Generation Advisors

Our next generation Advisors, Jesse Bunse and Bryan Gum, continue in their professional development. By the end of the year, they will have attained their Certified Kingdom Advisors® designation. This designation signifies their commitment to providing Biblically-wise financial counsel, and to serving Triune clients with discernment and wisdom. This winter, Jesse and Bryan will begin studies for their Certified Financial Planner™ certification.

We continue to search for Triune’s next Financial Planning Resident to hire and ask you to keep your eyes and ears open for candidates. Please email Jim Mullinix jmullinix@triunefp.com with nominations or for additional information.

Again, we are so thankful for the privilege to come alongside you and your loved ones on this journey. It is an honor to be your Partner In Conversation™.

Why Your Children Need a Next Generation Triune Advisor

Do you want your children to share your strong values about money and possessions? Do you want to be able to discuss life decisions candidly with them, knowing you’re on the same page? Do you want them to work with a financial advisor who has been trained and mentored by someone you trust? I know I do. They may be grown, living on their own and perhaps even married or parents themselves — but we still want the very best for our children. It’s this heart for our children that drives our commitment to building the next generation of Triune Advisors.

Nearly two years ago, we created the Triune Residency Program to train and develop future Triune Advisors. Potential Advisors spend between six and 12 months engaged in client meetings and diving deep into all aspects of our process. If they make the cut, they are put in a position to meet potential Triune clients.

These potential clients are often close in age to their Advisor. This allows clients to grow alongside with their Advisor, walking together through similar stages of life. As partners in conversation, Triune Advisors come alongside clients with hearts for service every step of the way.

Husbands and wives, business partners, parents and children — we love facilitating great financial conversations and strengthening life’s most important relationships. I am pleased to say that each of my three daughters have worked with our two Next Generation Advisors, Jesse Bunse and Bryan Gum.

We depend upon the eyes and ears of our existing friends, family and clients to help us meet the next generation of Triune Advisors. If you think highly of Triune, help us find our newest Next Generation Advisor. We’re grateful for your help. Know someone who fits the bill? Contact us to let us know >>

5 Reasons Millennials Need A Financial Planner

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Think you need a top-tier bank account balance to swing a financial planner? Waiting to have kids before you pick an advisor? Here’s the reality: we all need financial planning, no matter what stage of life we’re in. Millennials, we’re ready to help. There is no such thing as being too young to plan. Yes, even Millennials (generally speaking, those who were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) need financial advising. Here’s why financial planning is worth your time.

5 Reasons To Have a Financial Planner as a Millennial

1. Managing your cash flow

We’ll spare you, and won’t mention the word budget. But cash flow management is no joke. How do you and/or your spouse track your spending and saving?

2. Don’t just set goals. Achieve them!

We all have things we want to accomplish: become debt-free, buy a new house, college planning, retirement, you name it! We can set as many goals as we like, but how do we achieve them? At Triune, we use a process of regular collaboration and analysis to help you understand where you’re at, where you want to be and what needs to be done to get you there.

3. It pays to start early

Do not underestimate the power of compound interest. The greatest driver of investment returns is time. As your Financial Planner, we use your cash flow and goal setting to establish savings — systematic savings. Discipline yields contentment, and the capital markets of the world have a way of rewarding patient investors.

4. Accountability, transparency and everything in between

Ever have that thing you want to get done, but won’t do unless you know someone is holding you accountable? Welcome to the human condition. Accountability is key in many areas of life, not the least of which is your finances. Does thinking about money create anxiety for you? Are financial conversations with your spouse tense, stressful and frustrating? A big part of what we do is help couples bring all of their financial stuff to the light. By having things out on the table, we create peace of mind — even if things don’t yet look great.

5. Education from the real experts

So you landed that first job — congratulations! But what now? Roth who? IRA what? How much should you contribute, and where should you contribute it? Then there’s insurance; what does a good plan really look like? The list goes on. We’re on your side, ready to answer all these questions and many more, so you can make the right choices the first time around. We work to come alongside our clients and help them to think well and make wise decisions over time.

We’re here to help, no matter where you are in life. It’s never too early to get serious about planning — take the first step with someone you can trust.

Four Decades of Perspective

These days we are seemingly under attack by a 24 hour a day news cycle in all forms of media. We all seem to know what happened yesterday and today, but can hardly remember what may have occurred as recently as last month, let alone 6 months ago. This is particularly noticeable in the reporting from the financial press. Every day there is an analysis in the media on why stocks may have increased or decreased and everyone gives an opinion — whether we ask for it or not.

In one particular week we actually tracked financial headlines. Would it surprise you that on days when the market was down, the overwhelmingly majority of news headlines were justifying why — AND proposing all the reasons why it was only going to get worse? Then on days when the market was up, the news was exactly the opposite. Can the dynamics of a global economy REALLY change that much in the course of 24 hours???

Of course not. In fact, we know that it gets old to continuously be told stay the course because that can take on many different connotations. To some it may imply we’re not sure what to do, so let’s do nothing. At Triune, we simply mean to stick with a well thought-out and highly customized plan that was put in place long before things got volatile.

Triune has intentionally constructed your financial plan and investment portfolio and tied it to YOUR goals and timeframes. We know that this will serve you well. To put things in perspective, here’s a look back over the last 40 years. See if you notice any patterns supporting our approach.

1975

Saigon falls; President Ford escapes two assassination attempts, Saturday Night Live debuts, and U.S. and Soviet spacecrafts link in space.

  • Global Population: 4.1 Billion, half of whom live in extreme poverty
  • U.S. Population: 216 million
  • U.S. Real GDP: $5.49 Trillion
  • S&P 500-Year End Close: 90
  • Earnings: $7.71
  • Dividend: $3.73
  • US Postage Stamp: 10 cents

1985

Gorbachev comes to power in the Soviet Union and meets with President Reagan. Internet domain name is created. “We Are the World” is the song of the year. K.C. Royals win the World Series.

  • Global Population: 4.85 Billion
  • U.S. Population: 238 million
  • U.S. Real GDP: $7.71 Trillion
  • S&P 500-Year End Close: 211
  • Earnings: $15.68
  • Dividend: $8.20
  • US Postage Stamp: 22 cents

1995

Oklahoma City bombing is the greatest domestic terrorist atrocity in American history. OJ Simpson trial ends in acquittal after 10-month trial. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens in Cleveland. Jerry Garcia dies.

  • Global Population: 5.7 Billion
  • U.S. Population: 266 million
  • U.S. Real GDP: $10.28 Trillion
  • S&P 500-Year End Close: 615
  • Earnings: $37.71
  • Dividend: $14.17
  • US Postage Stamp: 32 cents

2005

Hurricane Katrina devastates the gulf coast. Saddam Hussein goes on trial. July 7 becomes London’s 9/11 as coordinated attacks on the bus and subway system claim 52 lives. Pope John Paul II dies; he will be canonized nine years later.

  • Global Population: 6.5 Billion
  • U.S. Population: 296 million
  • U.S. Real GDP: $14.37 Trillion
  • S&P 500-Year End Close: 1,248
  • Earnings: $76.45
  • Dividend: $22.38
  • US Postage Stamp: 37 cents

2015

A radical Islamic faction, ISIS, casts the Middle East in chaos and carries out terrorist atrocities in Paris and elsewhere. The world’s leading nations reach an accord with Iran on its nuclear development program. Yogi Berra dies. K.C. Royals win the World Series.

  • Global Population: 7.29 Billion, less than 1 in 10 live in extreme poverty
  • U.S. Population: 322 million
  • U.S. Real GDP: $16.39 Trillion (through 9/30/15)
  • S&P 500-Year End Close: 2,044
  • Earnings: $116.89
  • Dividend: $43.12
  • US Postage Stamp: 49 cents

Four decades of perspective

  • Global population is up nearly 80% and those living in extreme poverty have dropped from 50% to 10%.
  • US population is up by half through new births and immigration and holds a hundred years’ worth of hydrocarbon energy reserves.
  • Real GDP has more than tripled, meaning the real GDP per capita has soared
  • The S&P 500 rose more than twenty times, on an earnings increase of over fifteen times and a dividend boost approaching twelve times. Consumer prices (inflation) increased slightly more than four and a half times.

Surely this is the greatest accretion of real wealth by the greatest number of people in the history of the world.

The megatrends underpinning this economic and financial progress are the spread of the free market and the exponential progress in information technology. Global economies, capitalism and the capital markets of the world should always give us encouragement, despite the headlines of the day.

Now some of you might be saying, “That’s great. But I don’t have 40 years of investing life left. My investing timeframe is much shorter than that!” Here is some encouragement:

Your portfolio has been intentionally structured with low-volatility assets such as cash and/or bonds to stabilize and reduce the affects of volatility. This allows you to obtain the long-term benefits of global capitalism (i.e. owning stocks) without being forced to liquidate them in the midst of a down market in order to meet shorter-term withdrawal needs.

The investing time frame is usually longer than what you think. Traditionally, you may have thought of our investing timeline as retirement age. However, rising life expectancy now means that many people will spend as long in retirement as they did in the workforce! Therefore your portfolio simply must contain some allocation to stocks in order to keep up with enemy #1: inflation.

With Triune, know that our investments are headline proof. No matter how the press spins events in the economy, your portfolio is designed to harness the power of prosperity as it reaches greater numbers of people and markets. Of course, we relish the opportunity to discuss this further with any of you. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Thank you for allowing us to be your Partners in Conversation.

Meet Sara Van Der Weide, Client Services Manager

Meet Sara Van Der Weide, Client Services Manager at Triune.

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Her role at Triune: Sara is Client Services Manager at Triune.

What she loves most about Triune: “I like the open communication,” Sara says. “When we discuss ideas, it is an open format, and everyone is willing to listen. We get the best ideas that way!”

What and where she studied: Sara earned her degree in accounting and finance from Dakota State University.

How she became interested in financial services: With about nine years in the industry under her belt, Sara started her career in finance as a temp role. “I have an accounting background and was asked to fill a temporary role in finance. It caught my attention and my imagination. Now, it’s all I want to do!” She found Triune while looking for a new challenge and loves her role today.

Greatest passions, outside of finance: Sara loves family first and foremost — she’s one of nine siblings! She also enjoys travel, naming Paris and Washington, D.C. as her favorite spots. “The amount of art and history in both is amazing,” she says. And she also enjoys running, especially obstacle races like the Warrior Dash.

Oh yes — and shoes: She wouldn’t call it a passion, but Sara does love shoes. How many in her collection? “I don’t even count them anymore!” she smiles. Outside Triune, she works in the shoe department at Macy’s, so she can get the first look at the new styles and build her shoe collection.

Family: Sara, along with her nine siblings, grew up in Northwest Iowa on a farm. Her family still lives there, and Sara looks forward to weekends on the family farm.

Where she goes to church: Nall Avenue Baptist Church.

Favorite Kansas City restaurant: Sara has three favorites — Rye, Room 39 and Kyoto. “They have the best crab Rangoon!”

Favorite Kansas City cookie shop: Blue Chip in Leawood.

Books she loves: Sara enjoys going to book stores to wander and pick up whatever catches her eye — she especially loves used book stores, where she can find books they don’t put in the big box stores anymore. Her favorite genres are history and suspense.

TV favorites: Project Runway and Major Case.

At Triune, we’re partners in conversation. Sara’s favorite non-finance conversation topic: It depends on who she’s chatting with, but when she is with her family, Sara loves talking current events, both local and international.

Best part of her Triune job: As Client Services Manager, Sara enjoys her wide variety of responsibilities. “I do a little bit of everything every day, and I’m always working on a different project!”

Triune Gives Thanks

During this time of Thanksgiving, our Triune family was privileged and honored to give back recently, serving others a home cooked, hot meal at Reconciliation Services, Inc.

 The Triune Staff and family volunteers at Reconciliation Services

The Triune Staff and family volunteers at Reconciliation Services

Every Friday night, Reconciliation Services provides a community meal to those living in and around the area of 31st and Troost in Kansas City. It is an opportunity for those affected by homelessness, hunger or lack of community to come together and be served, restaurant style, at a sit-down common table atmosphere. The Triune Family, including our spouses and children, served more than 450 meals that evening. We delivered plates, bussed tables, filled water glasses and just visited with the guests who came to eat that night.

 Triune Co-Founder and Managing Partner Jim Mullinix visits with a guest at Reconciliation Services

Triune Co-Founder and Managing Partner Jim Mullinix visits with a guest at Reconciliation Services

It is the mission of Reconciliation Services to assist every person who comes through their door with the understanding that each is made in the image of God. This mission ties so beautifully to the vision at Triune: to walk alongside, assist and serve our clients in their financial journey.

Not only this season, but throughout the year, we humbly thank you for being part of our Triune family and thank God for the talents He has given us to serve you, as well as the folks at 31st and Troost. We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

 Triune family members prepare the meal at Reconciliation Services

Triune family members prepare the meal at Reconciliation Services

To learn more about Reconciliation Services, Inc., visit their website at www.rs3101.org.

Four Myths Regarding Financial Planning

Common misconceptions about financial planning can prevent even the best of us from seeking advice and counsel. These may be Millennial financial planning myths, but any of us can fall for them. Here are four common money myths we’re putting to rest.

  1. “I don’t have enough money yet.”

We’ve never had a client say, “Man, I sure wish I would have waited longer to start this stuff!” Bottom line: how much you have is not of importance. Rather, it is your behavior and building strong habits that will enable you to achieve your financial goals and build wealth over your lifetime.

  1. “I have plenty of time to get to that.”

There will always be an excuse to not look at your financial life and get started. There is never an easier time — so just start. The earlier you start, the more rewarding your good habits will be.

  1. “I’m in debt and just need to focus on that right now.”

This is actually why comprehensive planning is so important, and so powerful. By using a process that begins with cash flow management and goal setting, we create a system that gets you debt-free and headed towards your goals in the most efficient way we know.

  1. “I’m not worth a financial planner’s time.”

We always find a way to help those who walk through our door — we feel it’s our responsibility. Our priority is this: We want to come alongside our clients and sit on the same side of the table in order to serve them best.

Ready to start planning? We’re here to help, and we’ll be by your side throughout to help you finish well. Let’s get started.

A Real Pro Retires from Triune

It’s been my treat for over 10 years now to call J. Emerson Hartzler my client, then colleague, and finally friend (for life). He is one of the most principled and disciplined men I’ve ever met. He invested in me deeply — and for this I doubt I’ll ever be able to re-pay him.

My dear friend Cindy introduced me to Emerson in late 2004. At the time, Emerson was COO of the largest cardiology group in Kansas City; indeed, among the 20 largest similar practices in America. Apparently, one of their Physicians had come to him questioning investment performance and expenses of their retirement plan — he had enlisted Cindy to help him address the issues. Cindy solicited my assistance, for which I will be forever grateful.

Emerson and I hit it off immediately: I found him to be thoughtful, considerate, intelligent and worldly (I imagine he found me to be immature). Initially, we had a marriage of convenience — we both had something each other needed. I was able to answer technical questions and provide less expensive, better performing options; Emerson offered access to one of the more sought-after physician groups in Kansas City. It was classic “You scratch my back, I,ll scratch yours.”

But Emerson was far more interested in me, and my development as a professional, than I could have ever dreamt at the time. He taught me how to organize and lead a Committee meeting (stay calm). No multiple-page handouts: one-pagers, no more! “If you can’t get it on one page, you don’t know it.” He reminded me that my vision didn’t always matter. I remember explaining in painstaking detail how we would come on-site to his firm to conduct wonderful workshops for his employees. He gently reminded me, “Geoff, that’s great, but just so you know, even if the Pope rolls through town, we don’t stop seeing patients.” And ultimately, “You will know you have succeeded when they know your name.”

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Turns out Emerson and my partner Jim Mullinix had met at church 30 years prior. And when they re-connected in 2005, Emerson shared with Jim his vision for the next chapter of his career. You see, he did not believe that retirement meant an easy chair and daily golf, but additionally he was driven to help regular folks make better financial decisions. This meant revolutionary notions like living within your means, spending less than you earn, saving money systematically, setting goals, giving generously and tracking your progress. He believed Triune should believe this, too.

Emerson, Mr. Principled & Disciplined, had already thought this out. He wanted to help others, with literally no regard for himself or his own personal gain. Thus, Triune’s pro-bono practice was born. As a result of Emerson’s influence, we have and will continue to serve clients without regard to their ability to pay us. Thanks to Emerson, we recognize we have no choice but do so — it’s the right thing to do. As Emerson departs, we’re committed to this important part of our company.

Emerson Hartzler, don’t be a stranger. We will miss you too much — and so we may be forced to let the air out of your bicycle tires.

If you’d like to send Emerson warm wishes on his retirement, you’re welcome to send them tothe Triune office. He’ll always be part of the Triune family.

Customer Service and Market Volatility

The recent market volatility has probably caught your attention and left you wondering, “What does Triune think about this?”

Let’s start with an analogy involving a recent family vacation. I inadvertently left my cell phone in my rental car as we returned it. We had been on the shuttle to LAX from the rental lot for less than 10 minutes when I realized it. I immediately borrowed my wife’s phone and called the rental company, hoping someone could help. After all, I had just left there and knew exactly where my phone was. I could identify the car, I knew where it was and could hopefully nip this in the bud with just a little help from the rental office.

To my frustration and dismay, I ended up getting terrible customer service. I remember thinking multiple times, “Why doesn’t anyone care as much as I do?” I knew I was the one who made the mistake, so I wasn’t blaming them. But in my efforts to correct the situation, all I wanted was to feel like someone there cared just a little bit. Getting no response from them did NOT make me feel very good.

So let’s connect the analogy to what’s going on today.

At Triune, we take the planning and management of your money very seriously. Our money, as well as that of our families, is invested in the same investments that we’ve recommended to you. We know from experience that volatility and endless media reports of how much worse it could get can leave you with lots of questions and worries about if we are doing the right thing. You simply want to know that we care as much as you do and that Triune is on top of it.

Short-term volatility is a natural part of long-term investment process. While it is no fun to wait through, it’s precisely the reason that stocks have outperformed other asset classes over long periods of time. We’ve based our approach on more than 100 years of collective experience, objective, Nobel Prize-winning academic research and experience in managing through multiple periods of volatility. So we know that, given the intentional approach we employed well before this week, reacting to the volatility is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Consider these interesting stats:

  History of S&P 500* Declines 1928-2014

History of S&P 500* Declines 1928-2014

You’ve heard us quote him before, but it bears repeating. Warren Buffett said, “The market has a very efficient way of taking monies from the impatient investors and giving it to the patient ones.”

Know that we have carefully thought through your allocation in relation to your goals, objectives and time frames. While it doesn’t prevent short term declines in a portfolio, it does put the odds of long-term success in your favor.

Most importantly, we’re here to converse with you. We welcome your calls and want to talk through all the reasons why we think the path we are on together is still the best one, and still the path that is in YOUR best interest.

The Triune Way: Transparency and the Business Owner

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I don’t think anyone is more inherently skeptical than business owners. You could write a doctorate paper on why, but in reflection, I think it is because they have been told and sold so many things that did not come true by customers, vendors and employees. To not be skeptical would be insanity.

So what does it take to earn the trust and respect of business owners? Over the years, I have found that the three criteria I apply to others are the same standards that I hold myself to as well. They are seemingly simple, but in reality I could write forever about them. It boils down to three principles:

1. Transparent and Truthful

This value calls us to humbly stand before people and tell them the unvarnished, unadulterated and often unpleasant truth about ourselves. I know no better antidote to pride. Without this foundation, the relationship is bound to never be healthy.

2. Alignment

This means I truly understand what the other person needs (and vice versa) and I will give my best effort to make sure I can meet those needs. We are on the same page with the exact same goals and expectations. Furthermore, since we have decided to be transparent and truthful, we will make the necessary adjustments on our journey.

3. All In

I have had relationships that excelled at the first two only to be submarined by the other person not being all in. Life takes work and time and if you are not all in for the long haul, the chance of a successful, long-term productive relationship is slim. That really hurts! Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” Seek those who won’t quit and avoid those who do.

I have been truly blessed with business relationships that have lasted more than 30 years. I believe the reason is that we share the same values and stand by the three principles above. If things are working out, then test the principles to see if they are part of the success. The motto “Two are better than one . . .” is more than a saying at Triune.

Slicing the World Economic Pie

Capitalism and innovation have positioned the United States as the most dominant economic force in the world for the past century. As a result, the US has also been the biggest slice of the world economic pie, historically representing more than 70% of the total world market of investable opportunity.

While the United States maintains its position as the largest single country in the world marketplace, the rest of the world is catching up. This probably comes as no surprise to you. We generally have a sense that the world is a smaller place — due, among other things, to increased ease of travel abroad and the instant reporting of news, bringing world events to our electronic devices as the event is happening.

  Global Regional Weighting of Market Capitalization

Global Regional Weighting of Market Capitalization

Evidence of the world’s shifting market can be seen over the last 40 years in the chart below, demonstrating the relative market capitalization of the US, International Developed countries and Emerging Market countries.

Recognizing the downward slope trend line of US market capitalization over the past 40 years, Triune will be making an adjustment in the composition of the equity portion of some portfolios. Although market weightings could be more heavily skewed toward international holdings at this time, note that the world market weightings are not static. They fluctuate over time, so we believe the adjustment is a prudent allocation.  Furthermore, there are reasons (lower volatility, taxes, currency risk, lower trading cost, etc.) for a home bias by maintaining an overweighted position to the US market.

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Not all Triune clients will be impacted by this change, and no action is necessary. The timing of this change in your account will depend upon the type of account (taxable or non-taxable) you own and when you take your IRA distribution. As always, we welcome your questions. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this information. It is our privilege to be your Partners in Conversation.

Thanks to You, and by God’s Grace, We Celebrate Ten Years.

 The 2005 Triune Team

The 2005 Triune Team

When Triune was formed, we were driven by ideals like collaboration, partnership and becoming a real firm. We did NOT want to be simply a collection of individual practitioners in an office-sharing arrangement. We wanted our clients to be served by more than one advisor, a TEAM of professionals. We also wanted to leave no stone unturned when researching issues for our clients, so that our advice would be rooted in academic research and facts, not in good salesmanship or groundless speculation about the impact of current events on the capital markets.

Our industry is rife with solo-practitioner shops who do a good job — but can only see things through a single lens (their own). And when that solo advisor is busy attending to important relationships in his or her family, church, kids’ schools, etc., who is there to serve the client?

Ten years has gone by fast! The future is bright.

For ten years, we have worked together collectively and collaboratively on behalf of our clients, as an independent advisory firm and as a real partnership. Adopting a ‘two are better than one’ mantra (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) inspired us to provide uninterrupted service and advice to clients. We’ve developed a reputation as an anti-Wall Street firm by not being beholden to any bank, brokerage firm, insurance company or mutual fund manager — but rather by serving you. It is our highest calling to do so with diligence, independence, competency, experience and integrity.

We realize what a substantial commitment of time, energy, capacity and trust it is to invest in a relationship with us. So we want you to know that we take this responsibility very seriously.

Thank you so much for your support. It is our honor and privilege to be your Partners in Conversation. We are looking forward to the next ten years, together!

The Triune Way: Our Residency Program

In the financial advisory and financial services business at large, the more things change, the more they stay the same. A vivid example is how the industry generally brings new potentialadvisors into the business.

In my past life (and how most still go about it), there was incentive to hire as many money-motivated, competitive, hard-driving men and women as you could find, and then throw them out into the marketplace after having provided precious little training. Then they call their family and friends to try to sell them something (under the guise of planning).

The retention rate of the industry is horrible: only 10-20% survive to make it a career. Yet they continue to put untrained, inexperienced people in front of the unsuspecting public. So is it really that surprising to learn that the majority of them fail? And did you know that your accounts — if they did sell you something — get handed over to the biggest producers in the office?

The industry’s hiring practices and commission-based compensation model are antiquated — and many people get hurt by them.

At Triune, we’ve always seen things differently. We are an independent, fee-based advisory firm. Our goal is to generate results. We act in your best interest, not those of a bank, brokerage firm, insurance company or mutual fund provider.

We want you to know that in the past year, we implemented the Triune Residency Program, which allows intelligent and highly motivated individuals to earn a salary while:

  1. Working side-by-side with experienced, credentialed Advisors in an apprentice role for their first year.
  2. Learning the back-stage of our business from an operational perspective.
  3. Becoming an active collaborator in Triune workflow processes and culture.
  4. Gauging if this is the right career for them.

We set the bar high to get into our Triune Residency Program, but for the right individual, it could be a lifelong and fulfilling calling that benefits many families and companies, as well as our community.