Travis Allen, CFA, CFP®, RICP®

Travis is a Wealth Management Advisor and owner of Custom Wealth Planners. Travis has been working with high-net-worth families for more than 15 years. He specializes in retirement distribution and tax planning. Learn more about Travis here.

As much as I wanted to announce my next endeavor being a large lottery win, once again Powerball has let me down. Fortunately, I have a back-up plan. I’ve made the decision to establish my own independent, fee-only RIA. I’m still wrapping up all regulatory and operational pragmatics of that, but hope to go live in the next couple weeks (or so). This is something I’ve thought long and hard about, and have some strong principles guiding this decision. I thought I would share a few of them as a setup to the broader firm announcement later this month. Thank you to everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support and kind words of encouragement over the last week. It’s made such a large jump into the unknown feel far less scary as I originally expected.

Now onto some of the core thoughts on formation of the next firm….

  1. My Family. I have a 3 (going on 16) and 9 year old in the house (along with my wonderful wife that shall remain ageless). The younger me would be in shock by the shift of priorities from professional and financial security to nights at a baseball field or “one more book” at the end of the night. I know people tend to get softer with age (I’m turning 40 this year), but I’m quickly coming to terms with the reality of just how genuinely I enjoy these moments. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some of the most successful individuals in the world. A common regret is the sacrifices required to family life in order to achieve that success. At the end of life I prefer to look back at the memories made and amazing relationships established, not the size of my balance sheet. I plan on doing great things with this firm, but always keeping a balance to what really matters.
  2. My Clients. One of the greatest joys of this profession is getting to meet and have impact on the people I serve. Whether its helping clients with the basics of finance or climbing Maslow’s Hierarchy to achieve greater fulfillment, there’s no better sense of accomplishment than bringing peace of mind to people’s life. This future firm will have that as a core focus. Yes, we’ll talk about technical market and planning related issues, but it will all be geared first and foremost towards helping people achieve the best life that they can envision for themselves. I also hope to develop strong personal relationships with all who choose to join me. I believe that’s critical to truly understand the deeper needs of clients, and frankly its way more fun to spend meetings at the golf course, wine bar, or spending time with their family.Ok, so on to some more practical items….
  3. Advice Only, No Products (And a Fiduciary at All Times). As our industry has evolved, the value of an advisor has shifted from the products they offer to the advice they provide (similar to CPA and Legal firms). Most of the recommendations I make today has nothing to do with the sale of a product, but instead the actions individuals need to take to ensure they’re on track to achieve their goals (i.e. save more in the right places, spend less/more on priorities, debt utilization, tax planning, etc.). My firm will not receive compensation for the sale of any products other than the advisory and planning services I provide. This helps ensure that my recommendations are not influenced by commissions, but instead driven solely by what is in the best interest of my clients.
  4. Engagement Options. Not everyone has investments to manage, but many need sound financial advice. There will be two core ways to get advice from the future firm:
    a.) Fee-Based Planning Engagement: Project based 1-4 meetings to get the advice you need; no ongoing advice or execution.
    b.) Ongoing Advisory Engagement: Ongoing planning advice and investment management along with execution.Further details of both will come with the official rollout, but know that getting the thorough financial advice you need doesn’t mean I have to manage your assets or disrupt existing relationships with current advisors (although you’ll quickly see the value of a coordinated strategy).
  5. Broad Scope and Proactive Advice. There are so many aspects with one’s financial life that needs regular attention. (Google “CFP® Knowledge Topics” if you want to be overwhelmed) I’ve built a skillset over my career to be an expert in the majority of those, but there are certain areas I must collaborate with outside professionals to assist with execution (I can’t refinance your house; write legal documents, etc.). Fortunately I have a great group of local and nationwide professionals covering all sorts of legal, tax, and insurance related areas that we can turn to for assistance on those fronts. Collaboration with outside professionals will be a regular staple of our relationship.This range of advice is also something that needs to be dealt with in a proactive and timely manner. It’s rare that clients are fully aware of all the issues that need to be addressed. In this realm I serve as an educator of the key issues, assist with prioritization of them, and act as an accountability partner (or handle execution for them) to ensure they’re completed.
  6. Life-Long Learning. I look back over my career and can be embarrassed by my lack of knowledge around certain topics or handling of specific client circumstances in the past. (believe it or not, early on I used to script meetings from beginning to end) I’ve learned to embrace that embarrassment as a sign of growth around where I am today. I now have the confidence to pronounce I’m pretty good at this investment/planning stuff, but hope to be similarly embarrassed 10 years from now.
  7. Evidence-Based, Straightforward Investment Strategies. Far too much of the investment industry is focused on salesmanship, not results. Fads, sensationalism, and media noise often fill the landscape of our industry and lack the priority of investments serving a grander cause (i.e. living our best life). My focus will be on blending the greater cause of life’s priorities with the best time-tested and evidence based investment strategies. It won’t always be the most sensationalist of strategies (sorry bitcoin enthusiasts), but there will always be sound basis and historical rigor backing my recommendations.
  8. Educator (Not salesman). You’ll find my general style of advising more closely aligned to teaching than prescribing. Everything in personal finance has trade-offs. The decision to payoff debt may be the best decision for one person and the worst for another. Some need to tighten the budget belt while others need to loosen up and spend to live their best life. My goal is to help educate and empower you to make personal decisions based on your own priorities and values.
  9. Communication Standards (Advisory Engagements). As clients have reached out over the last week, I’ve been affirmed that a lot of life happens day-to-day that is not always captured with a standard annual advisory review. To that end, any advisory client should expect the following:
    a.) Two pre-scheduled formal advisory reviews (and ad-hoc meetings as needed)
    b.) Quarterly check-in calls (10-15 minutes; but as long as needed)
    c.) Year-end tax planning meeting and coordination with their CPA (if needed)
    d.)Blog and Social Media posts to know exactly the things we are talking to clients about in real-time.
  10. Industry Leading Tech and Service Providers. Although independent, I will be forming an alliance with a large, recognizable firm within the industry. My firm’s independent nature allows me to harness the tremendous resources and capabilities of the larger firm, but still allowing me the flexibility to employ third party industry leading technology and service providers that are out there.
  11. Agile and Adaptable. The size of my firm allows me to be more responsive and adaptable to the needs of clients. I’m building this firm from the ground up to ensure every element of it is focused on providing the right advice, in a timely manner, and in a way that is most effective to impact outcomes for the clients. I’m always open to feedback from clients around how to make the experience better.

Lastly, I’d like to introduce you to the future Co-CEOs of the firm. Be careful of that long haired one…:)

Welcome to Custom Wealth Planning’s blog where founders Travis & Clay share their thoughts on topics that cover Money, Mindfulness, & History.

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