Sometimes it seems like there are two types of people in this world – millionaires and those aspiring to become millionaires. Whether it’s due to hard work, luck, rich parents or a lottery ticket, millionaires have one thing that many others lack – the right financial advisory team. Millionaires will pay a high price to ensure the right people are protecting and growing their wealth. But here’s a newsflash: You don’t have to be a millionaire to have a millionaire advisor!
At Global View, we have many very successful clients. Here are 10 things that these millionaires may be doing that you may not be.
1. Create an advisory team.
Choosing the right financial advisor is key to making the right financial decisions in all aspects of your life. Your financial planning team might include an attorney, wealth advisor (knowledgeable about insurance needs but who isn’t paid to sell it), portfolio manager and tax advisor. Their task is to work together to meet your short-term objectives and long-term goals. When all of these services are handled under one roof, there’s less of a chance of misinterpretation or bad communication, so look for a firm that can handle all of your needs in one place.
2. Master your impulses.
Have you ever regretted making an impulsive purchase? We’re not talking about that snap decision to buy a candy bar in the checkout line. It’s more about spending on costly items without serious consideration; the kind of behavior that keeps the credit card companies happy. Imagine how much better our finances would be if we could temper our spontaneous enthusiasm (or control our chimp) to buy things we don’t really need. A millionaire advisor likely helps clients understand the difference between wants (desires) and needs (necessities). Millionaires grow their wealth by not wasting their money on impractical purchases. (That is, until they become mega-millionaires. Then all bets are off.)
3. Understand before you invest.
One important aspect of wealth accumulation is to put your money to work through appropriate investments. Part of “appropriate” is investing in what you know. A millionaire wants a competitive edge in order to get the best tradeoff between risk and reward for their investments. That edge is knowledge. They don’t expect to hit a home run every time they step up to the plate, but they should understand the opportunities and risks before they commit money to an investment. And many work with advisors who offer sound investment advice based on extensive research and experience. If you don’t have the time to master the intricacies of a particular investment, work with an advisor or fund manager who does.
4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Staying focused on your long-term goals is so important. And it can be hard to do. When the stock market experiences ups and downs, and when everyone around you seems to be offering up advice or a perspective on what should be done because of it, people tend to make bad financial decisions. (Again, we can blame it on our chimp.) We remind clients all the time to remember their long-term goals. Establishing these goals can help foster the discipline you need to look beyond the moment.
If you aren’t spending your time and money toward achieving your long-term goals, it’s important to adjust those goals or change your behavior. Perhaps you can eliminate tasks that don’t get you where you want to be and replace them with future-oriented tasks that get the job done.
5. Protect your wealth.
A millionaire has to guard against threats. Unfortunately, when you’ve worked hard and have serious money, you become a more attractive target. There are a number of situations that can threaten your hard-earned wealth, from frivolous lawsuits to divorce. It’s important to understand what these threats are and to protect yourself from them. Especially when you have a lot of money at stake.
Download our free eBook that discusses these risks: Financial Planning for Millionaires: 5 Ways to Protect What You’ve Built (And Avoid Being a Confusopoly Victim).
6. Pay yourself first.
Speaking of revenue, a good habit to develop on the way to becoming a millionaire is to always pay yourself first. Automatically put aside a percentage of your income into retirement investments, tax-sheltered assets and other long-term vehicles that help you accumulate money. Experienced millionaires know they need to invest a certain amount of their income in long-term accounts that they let grow and compound. By skimming part of each paycheck directly into a long-term account, you can avoid the temptation to use that money on unnecessary spending.
7. Create a budget you can follow.
It’s hard to pay yourself first if you don’t know where each dollar comes from and goes. That’s the job of your budget. It is the best expression of your financial priorities and the sharpest tool for telling you whether you’re acting in accord with those priorities. It also tells you whether you are living within your means, or even better, below your means. No law says you have to spend every dollar of discretionary income. Tracking your spending against your budget can help you see where to divert spending money into investments.
8. Plan for emergencies.
No one is immune from sudden emergencies that require substantial amounts of money. This is especially important to anyone who is subject to boom and bust cycles in their careers. Health emergencies can pop up without any warning, and while having excellent health insurance is necessary, it usually isn’t enough to help you maintain your wealth and lifestyle if you’re suddenly incapacitated.
9. Plan your estate.
Everyone should have a will. Sure, the rich have more to leave to their beneficiaries, but the rest of us feel just as strongly about protecting our family in the case of our demise. At Global View, because we’ve been at this for a long time, we’ve seen the mistakes. As you accumulate more wealth, consider using trusts to fund specific people and/or causes in a way that saves you on taxes while ensuring your wishes are honored. Moreover, you can strategically deploy life insurance trusts to fund many important responsibilities in an efficient way.
10. Understand tax consequences.
Paying an appropriate amount in taxes is required of all of us. Millionaire advisors show their clients how they have considerable discretion in minimizing the tax bite they face from earnings and investments. Tax shelters, end-of-year tax selling, trusts, LLCs, charitable contributions, municipal bonds and other devices can reduce your tax burden legally and responsibly.
Wealth management requires discipline, smart thinking and coordinated planning. That’s true for millionaires, and it’s true for the rest of us as well. Using the right financial advisors will help you achieve your goals while controlling the risks that can threaten your long-term happiness.