What is PathBridge Financial?
I am a financial advisor who is not going to be a perfect fit for every person seeking guidance.
Why? Because PathBridge Financial was designed for a very particular type of client. I developed a firm for people nearing retirement (or retired already), and who love to travel.
So what in the world does that look like?
B.P.F. – Before PathBridge Financial
When I left my last job at one of those large, unnamed financial institutions, I had a decision to make. (Actually, the institution appears on my LinkedIn bio, but I thought “unnamed” financial institution added some mystery.)
The easy path – find a position at another firm and resume my career doing the same thing. I am not someone who hates the corporate world. And I certainly was not the bitter, angry dude who sits in a cubicle all day badmouthing management while frequently shooting glances at a retirement countdown clock.
I worked with a great group of people, and I thought we were adding real value to our clients’ lives. I enjoyed the work, and I was happy to go into the office each day. Sure there was some mind-numbing bureaucracy, but there were also some phenomenal benefits! Oh, how I miss employer-sponsored health care!
The harder path was starting a firm from scratch. Where do I begin? What if I fail? What do I do when my computer freezes up 20 minutes before a client Zoom meeting, and there’s no tech-support line to call? Questions I’ve had to answer.
Eventually, I embraced the challenge of starting a firm of my own. Computer issues be damned!
The idea of helping clients with the financial part of their lives excited me. I won’t go through my entire bio (you can find it here), but I’ve had a long career in the finance world, and I’ve picked up some valuable knowledge along the way. I wanted to share this hard-earned insight and make a difference in the lives of people looking for help.
The investment and financial planning world is complex and can be challenging to navigate when it’s not your full-time job. But ignoring it is not an option. I’ve seen the change that comprehensive financial planning can make in people’s lives, and it can be monumental.
Why Focus on Retirement?
The 10-15 years before retirement are crucial to your financial future. Salaries tend to peak, images of life in retirement start to come into focus, and there’s still time to make meaningful changes, although it’s running out quickly. You’re not alone if you’ve recently woken up in a cold sweat and asked yourself, “Do I have enough money to retire?”
Each one of us goes through a similar process when preparing for retirement, and by working exclusively with clients at this stage of life, I can deliver customized solutions. As in medicine, would you rather work with a generalist or a specialist?
People Who Love to Travel
Traveling adds another dimension to retirement planning. Expenses often jump in the two to three years after retirement as bucket list items are crossed off. Failing to plan for these expenses will lead to a budget shortfall and can damage retirement and travel dreams.
Health insurance, including Medicare, is a minefield for travelers. Many policies will not cover you overseas, and those that do often won’t protect you past 60 days.
Additional areas of financial planning important to travelers are obtaining the right credit card and buying travel insurance. The right credit card can offer extremely valuable perks such as generous sign-up bonuses, complimentary checked-bag fees, and airport lounge access. The right card may also include travel insurance, which can often allow you to skip the expense of buying a separate policy.
I have experience working through these issues with clients, and as an avid traveler, I’ve tackled many personally. Again, would you like to work with a generalist or specialist?
PathBridge Financial is a small firm. Is this good or bad? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Some people feel all warm and fuzzy when they enter the wood-paneled offices of a multi-billion dollar banking institution such as Wells Fargo. A firm with an army of financial specialists at their disposal and tremendous resources.
Unfortunately, you also can be exposed to less than ideal practices. I’m not pointing the finger at any one bad actor. But I have worked in the industry long enough to witness less-than-ideal practices at several firms.
At large institutions, unless you’re a client with tens of millions of dollars, your account can be passed around to junior advisors with little experience. There is often pressure for advisors to invest client money in company-run products, regardless of whether they are the best alternative.
Large, public companies are also under pressure from shareholders to maximize earnings each quarter. Questionable revenue-generating activities can be the unfortunate result.
On the other end of the spectrum are small firms. Regrettably, I have no wood-paneling. I also don’t have an army of financial specialists sitting in offices down the hall. I do, however, have an outside network of specialists who can help when their expertise is needed.
I can guarantee that your financial plan and portfolio will be customized using products that are best suited for your situation. There are no proprietary products to be pushed here.
When you call PathBridge Financial, you’re going to talk to me. And I’m never going to pass your account off to a junior associate because I’m leaving for another firm. There’s also a succession plan in place just in case I’m run down by the proverbial bus.
Did I skew the benefits of working with a small firm a little in my favor? Hell, yes! I’m slightly biassed, and that’s why I started a small firm instead of going to work for another large institution. There is no right or wrong answer. This is a very personal decision, so do your homework and decide what’s best for you.
There are many ways a firm can be paid for financial advice. Fee-only firms do not earn commissions on the products they sell and are compensated exclusively by clients. This fee structure reduces the likelihood of a conflict of interest arising and your hard-earned money going into a high-commission product sold to you so your advisor can afford a Christmas cruise.
PathBridge Financial is, and always will be, a fee-only firm. I have also never been on a Christmas cruise. For more on the benefits of a fee-only advisor, please see the following article at smartasset.com: “What Is a Fee-Only Financial Planner?”
I’d love to say that I’m the outgoing life of the party – the type of advisor that will enter a room of 100 and leave a half-hour later with 50 new friends. I am not. I’m an introvert. I prefer small groups as compared to a packed room, so networking is not my strongest attribute.
All is not lost, however! Introverts are known as good listeners, analytical, observant, and trustworthy. Yes, I’d say that describes my 20 plus years in the financial industry.
My financial planning style involves listening intently to client issues and carefully analyzing the data presented. Trustworthy? I have chosen to operate as a fiduciary because doing what’s in the best interest of my clients is non-negotiable.
So, no, I will not walk out of that room with 50 new “friends”. But I might walk out of the room, having made a meaningful connection with one or two good people. And building meaningful connections is what being a financial advisor is all about.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve noticed I like to inject a little humor into my writing. The world of financial planning can get awfully dry sometimes. There’s no reason for this.
I’m sure there are readers who roll their eyes when my attempt at humor falls flat, but if I can get a slight chuckle every so often, I’ve made financial planning more fun. I know when I find a topic fun, I am more likely to remember the material and implement the information into my own life. Most people react in the same way.
The investment knowledge of financial advisors can range from very little to expert level. Some advisors will contract the investment portion of their business to a third party. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s the right thing to do in situations where the advisor’s investment knowledge is lacking.
I am on the other side of the spectrum. I have spent a good portion of my financial career analyzing and managing investments. I am a CFA® Charterholder, in addition to a CFP® Professional, a distinction only a small percentage of financial advisors can claim.
I manage globally diversified portfolios with the goal of keeping fees as low as possible while monitoring performance. Tax efficiency is a focus, and investments are chosen based on a long-term time horizon.
PathBridge Financial is not for everyone. However, if you’re looking for a small firm that specializes in helping clients prepare for retirement with a focus on minimizing taxes, reducing fees, and personalized service with a touch of humor, you’re in the right place. If the idea of working with a fee-only, fiduciary with investment expertise, who takes pride in pro-active listening and in-depth analysis, you may have found a home.
I decided to become a financial advisor to help people, so if any reader ever has a question or concern, big or small, please reach out. I’ll do my best to help. Financial/Retirement planning can be complicated and confusing, so if you decide you’d like an experienced guide to help you navigate the way – PathBridge Financial is here for you.
If you’d like to see exactly what a comprehensive financial plan looks like that was specifically designed for travelers, please enter your information below. My promise to you, never any SPAM.
David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.