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Being clear and understood

Remember that college professor, who rambled on and then asked, “Does that make sense?” Psychologists say you interpreted his talk your way, and your classmates interpreted it their way. Hopefully, whatever way, his message came across.

Associations to our previous experiences and thoughts update our interpretations, which is why your classmates’ associations differ from yours. It’s normal. Children’s book illustrator Robert McCloskey wrote, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

As much as it was your professor’s responsibility as a communicator to get his point across clearly and effectively, it was your responsibility to receive and understand it – much like communications you’ll have with your financial advisor. My goal is also my commitment – to educate you by being clear and understood.

We listen

As I like to say, “Let’s talk!” because getting to know you is one of the most important steps in the Hefren-Tillotson MASTERPLAN financial planning process. Your beliefs about life, your ideas about money and your personal values will shape the plan we ultimately create for you. As it is two-way communication, we’ll also tell you ours.

We create a safe, secure and open atmosphere where you can speak freely, and ask questions with confidence and the assurance that you will always get truthful and well-informed answers.

Remember, advisors must know what you want to accomplish. Additionally, we must also know how you’re anticipating Hefren-Tillotson to help. Mainly, it is essential that you be clear and understood. Your advisor will truly listen to you as articulately as you are communicating what you are hopeful to accomplish.

We ask

We ask because we need to know. By looking at your unique situation and asking the right questions, we can begin to envision the financial plan that best suits your short-and long-term needs. MASTERPLAN is the prescription.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you have a million dollar portfolio. This exchange between your advisor and you on the topic of risk tolerance might sound like this: “You have told me you are willing to take no more than 20% – 25% downside risk, is that correct?” You nod and say yes.

“And, to be clear, do I understand you to mean that you will accept a $200,000 – $250,000 downside risk – in exchange for a potentially greater upside gain later – if and when market conditions warrant it?” You nod and say yes.

Your advisor is protecting you, themselves, and their firm from misinterpretations, by being clear and understood about your acceptance of downside risk. You not only confirmed your comfort level, you documented it. However, the real question your advisor will ask is: “Can you afford to take that downside risk?” As you’ll learn, the objectiveness of MASTERPLAN clearly illustrates if the risk is warranted or if it is not.

We prepare

Your plan will be as unique as your fingerprint. You’ll receive it in writing and, rest assured, as a privately-held, family-owned company in Western Pennsylvania, we’ve chosen from among the best world-class money managers and securities without the conflicts of interest or restrictions involved with the proprietary products you’ll find at other financial planning firms.

Furthermore, as a solutions-based company, we focus on the big picture. We have complete autonomy to access the securities that, we believe, are suitable for your individual situation and goals. Clearly, we want to evolve with you, your family, your colleagues, friends and neighbors.

Likewise, we want to help with 401(k), 403(b) and 529 Plans, life insurance, lending and borrowing needs, tax and estate planning, and long-term care insurance for you and your family, Mom and Dad, and other family members, prior to your retiring and reinvesting lump sums and investable assets, the culmination of years of meticulous planning.

We act

Now we put it into action, taking care to be completely objective in managing your investments. Because the MASTERPLAN financial planning process is a personal investment in who you are as an investor and as a person, it’s likely to evolve with you, and as new considerations arise. That’s the power of the MASTERPLAN approach.

Longevity is key. Having a successful financial plan isn’t as simple as “checking the boxes.” Your financial plan is what you make of it, and the effort you put into it. Ensuring your portfolio stays on track to meet your necessary goals is the essence of ongoing management.

Keeping up with the rising cost of inflation is as necessary as occasionally revising our recommendations to ensure your portfolio is doing what we planned. I’ll be there with you every step of the way. Good advisors educate their clients to make informed financial decisions – and to being clear and understood.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance does not predict future results. This report is based on data obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Hefren-Tillotson does not, nor any other party, guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report or make any warranties regarding results obtained from its usage. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the firms judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities herein mentioned.

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Hefren-Tillotson Inc. is a leading diversified financial services firm providing investment and retirement plan management and comprehensive, financial planning through MASTERPLAN® for individuals and businesses. The firm’s wealth management services are administered by Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professionals, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter holders, attorneys, Chartered Life Underwriters, and CPA/PFS’s. Hefren-Tillotson offers corporate services including 401(k) retirement planning, executive financial counseling, fiduciary reviews and workplace financial planning seminars. Founded in 1948, the firm is headquartered in Pittsburgh and has offices located in Pittsburgh, Butler, Greensburg, North Hills, and South Hills.