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Embracing Change at Curran - A Formal Letter to Clients

Dear Clients and Friends, 

I’d like to go over some changes we are making at Curran Wealth Management.

As you may know our firm began as Curran Investment Management in 2005 when our services focused mostly on investment management. Over the years, other financial services became increasingly important as we increased our emphasis on financial planning in general and retirement planning in particular. As we evolved, we changed our name to Curran Wealth Management in 2017.

I’ve realized in order to reach the next level in client services and uphold our Defining Quality promise to all of our clients, we must no longer continue to do things the same way they have always been done. This is why we are changing both the title and job function of who you know to be your Relationship Manager.

Your Relationship Manager will now be your Private Wealth Manager. I understand since the inception of Curran, we have focused on providing comprehensive investment management through quarterly performance reports and various other performance related measurements. However, the Private Wealth Manager’s objective is to look at everything you do in all areas related to wealth management to include retirement, insurance, investing and tax. The goal is to analyze and report to you in ways you can act on over time. Furthermore, the Private Wealth Manager’s job is to create a panoramic view of your financial needs and to assess your unique circumstances.

Another part of this change involves creating a team of people for each client to rely upon instead of one single person. We have introduced a Private Wealth Administrator and Private Wealth Coordinator to help with this process. The Private Wealth Administrator will be there for clients’ day-to-day needs. When, for example, you need a check, are opening a new account or you’re not sure how to access something on our Panorama Portal, the Private Wealth Administrator will be there for you.

This change will permit your Private Wealth Manager to be focused on your long term essential needs to assure your financial security and make certain nothing is sacrificed because of day-to-day routine management becoming their primary objective.

In addition, I understand there are things that happen in all of our lives and investment portfolios that need special attention. This is why we’ve created the role, Private Wealth Coordinator, who dedicates time on those case-by-case scenarios while working with our Private Wealth Managers to ensure your needs are met.

The number to reach our Private Wealth Administrator is (518) 391-4200. For all questions regarding advice with your account please call your Private Wealth Manager directly.

Now that you are aware of the changes being made at Curran, I’d like to share the reasons why I feel strongly about this transition. It seems many people believe financial security is a number. If someone had enough money, they would be financially secure. I always thought it was naïve to think so. Yes, financial security involves money but it requires much more.

My experience has taught me that to be financially secure there must be a clear understanding about the value of money. How long can it last? How much can it buy? Today $2.00 may buy a cup of coffee. But the big question is what will it buy twenty years following retirement? Unfortunately, most people think in terms of the present value of money. The value of a dollar twenty years prior to retirement does not matter. The only thing that matters is how much will the dollar buy in the future. While working it is okay to focus on the present value of money. To offset inflation and life style improvements there are salary increases and promotions that do occur routinely. The reality of ever-increasing prices become easily camouflaged. In retirement, as many as 30-40 years may pass without pay increases. The meaning of fixed income becomes apparent later but then it is too late.

Many say they are self-insured and do not require long term care insurance. Maybe? But what happens to a $1,000,000 portfolio if a spouse requires 2-3 years in long term care at a cost of $200,000 per year? The portfolio will clearly not be $1,000,000 if nursing home care is required. Plus, social security payments will be significantly reduced following the first to die. The issue is never do I have enough to pay the bill but does the surviving spouse have enough to maintain their lifestyle. And never forget the eroding power of inflation.

The analysis we provide at Curran must be unique to individual circumstances and can never be normalized over most people. The challenge for you is to recognize why a deep and thorough review is required. The challenge for us is to be able to provide the analysis and be able to modify it as circumstances change. Most importantly it must be honest and truthful and not pander to emotions. Even more importantly a review must be ongoing. Checking off the task as being done can never be allowed to happen.

Taxes require a thorough and ongoing analysis. Simply filing a tax return each year is not a strategy. It only fulfills a legal requirement. What about life insurance? Do you need it?   Are you paying too much? Do you have the right insurance? I have found over the years that most people either ignore life insurance and long-term care or over emphasize it. Our Private Wealth Managers must analyze it routinely. It is never a single decision made or not made. It is not a solution to be sold to clients but rather a need that is strategically placed in a comprehensive financial plan.

Is your estate plan ready and does it meet your family needs and your expectations?

There are 100’s of questions that could be asked of each of us. Each time I ask those questions I come to the same conclusions. There is no single place to ask them. There are too many disparate parts and too many disconnected professionals in the process. Do you have the background to be able to know what is important and to understand implications and consequences for your decisions and procrastination? Or do you need help and where do you ask for help? We cannot wait for events to cause us to take action. We must be proactive. The old saying comes to mind, “Ignorance is bliss”, but it is never part of a plan. Is ignoring to plan an option to achieve financial security?

I know we do not like to think about life events like expenses and health care associated with aging but they must be anticipated and understood.

The question I have been asking myself is: Do individuals and families have access to comprehensive financial planning? Do they actually receive comprehensive planning? I have answered both questions with no. It would seem there is access to comprehensive financial planning but is it actually being delivered? My conclusion is no because it is simply being “pieced together” in ways that make its execution very nearly impossible. At best it seems to be a document that never really forms a foundation for ongoing decisions. A plan should never be permitted to collect dust.

For example, let’s consider what happens if you were to build a new house.  You would begin by hiring an architect followed by hiring a general contractor. Your financial plan is the equivalent of your blue prints for your home. Who is you’re your general contractor? Or do you do it yourself?  I find most people are their own “general contractor” and “architect” when it comes to their financial plan. And who would be foolish enough to think the house would not require ongoing and constant maintenance. Yet it seems most people don’t treat their finances like a “house”.

Yes, there are services that say they do comprehensive planning at least in part. Accountants say they do, at least the tax preparation part. Attorneys do estate plans. Insurance salesman say they provide insurance. And there are cases when the sales pitch says they do all. However, I have never met the person who can say they are truly satisfied and believe they have an understanding and confidence in all of their financial services to include investment, tax, insurance and estate and financial planning.

This is where we come in, with an expertise in wealth management, investment management and tax services. As I mentioned previously, I understand since the inception of Curran, we have focused on providing comprehensive investment management however, we are dedicated to our Defining Quality promise which means our services can be nothing less than high quality and comprehensive.

I hope you can be patient with all of us during this time. We have big visions for what we want to accomplish. I hope you can appreciate the steps we are taking to uphold our Defining Quality promise to you.

Sincerely,Thomas Curran, Founder & CEO