Putting Quality and Quantity Together
Photo by Steve Naya
“How long do you have to work before you can retire? How much money do you need to retire?” Doug Loftus, founder and principal at Wealth Dimensions, often asks his clients questions like these.
In a focus group with clients and non-clients, the Cincinnati fee-based wealth management firm found that most people are uncertain of the answers to those questions.
“For those non-clients working without an advisor, or with one that had a different process than ours, it was amazing how much un- certainty they had. They didn’t have a comprehensive plan in place in order to make the right decisions,” he says. “The reality is most people aren’t financially prepared to have the retirement they want, they just don’t know it.”
Since it was founded in 1986, the firm has refined a “discovery process,” which helps clients answer the tough questions in order to come up with a successful financial plan. Although the process accounts for the quantitative, it also looks at qualitative data, such as family dynamics, personal goals and dreams, in order to move beyond the numbers.
“I think what makes us so unique is that we focus on both the quantitative and qualitative equally. If you put the two together, there’s purpose more than numbers,” says Tom Curti, founder and principal. “It deepens our understanding of our clients.”
Probing questions allow Wealth Dimensions advisors to act as facilitators during the interview, which helps clients to think outside of the box on topics they would have rarely thought about otherwise. In fact, Curti says, “They come in for their traditional financial planning meeting, and they come out feeling far more enlightened about their future. People underestimate the role of qualitative issues in the success of their plan.”
The process benefits any client who seeks more financial certainty because it explores virtually every potential possibility, including economic and political factors. This is especially helpful in a weakened economy, which causes many to feel uncertain about their future.
“When we build the plan, we stress test it for all kinds of economic conditions,” Loftus says. “Whatever economic and political environment presents itself, you need to make sure that there is an action plan to survive the downturns.”
The firm continually reviews and monitors the plan to make adjustments if needed. This ongoing guidance is crucial because it is one more way the firm can help assure that clients will reach their goals, Loftus says.
“When someone retires, you can’t miss. You can’t be wrong. You want to truly explore all the potential possibilities, all the details,” he says. “ This isn’t just the case for retirement. With anything, you need to get down to the details so you can maximize your resources and make the most of your resources to achieve significant goals.”
With a process that requires constant observation of details, where even qualitative information is updated at annual reviews, the firm gets to know clients personally. In fact, many of their clients have been with the firm for nearly 30 years. This allows advisors at Wealth Dimensions to create relationships with multiple generations.
“We take pride in what we do. But equally important, we want to be around for the children of our current clients, for the next generation,” Curti says. “We’re working very hard to take care of our clients today, but we’re planting the seeds to be able to take care of clients tomorrow. That is profoundly more important to us as founders. We want this firm to be a legacy, to be around 50 years from now.”
Wealth Dimensions specializes in advising dentists, physicians, and business owners, but they also advise individuals and their families to help create a sustainable financial plan that meets individual long-term goals. As an independent firm, the advisors are focused on the planning process without conflict from investment product, sales or commissions.
Moreover, as registered investment advisors, they place their client’s interest first because they are held to a legal fiduciary standard.
“We embrace our fiduciary role. We’re not selling investment products, rather we’re simply advising our clients. That’s not always the case in our industry,” Loftus says.
Wealth Dimensions is located at 11300 Cornell Park Drive, Suite 300, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can reach them at 513.554.6000 or visit their website at www.wealthdimensions.com.