In a Nutshell: TCI Wealth Advisors is a firm that provides fee-only financial advice on investments, taxes, retirement, estate planning and other financial issues clients may encounter. The firm believes that education is essential to helping people gain control over their finances. In recognition of its work in financial education and the nonprofit space, CardRates.com has recognized TCI Wealth Advisors with its Editor’s Choice™ Award.
In the world of finance, everybody has assets and liabilities. And whether you’re optimistic or fearful of personal finance management, everybody can benefit from receiving sound financial advice.
The missing element is of course education. Knowing how you spend, what to avoid, and how to invest wisely all starts with financial education.
It is that philosophy that drove Bob Swift to form TCI Wealth Advisors.
When he was starting out as a stockbroker, Swift grew dissatisfied with having to sell products and decided to then focus on teaching finance and investments at a community college in the early 1990s.
Over time, Swift started providing investor classes out of his house. The Conservative Investor (TCI) program ran so well that Swift’s students began asking him to be their financial advisor. Thus began TCI Wealth Advisors.
TCI operates under the principle of putting client interests first and having trustworthy and open communication. It also plays into the firm’s philosophy of fiduciary duty.
While that generally means “acting in the client’s best interest,” TCI takes its fiduciary commitment a step further by ensuring that the planning process caters to each client’s specific needs.
And since TCI is fee-only, has no hidden commissions, and is 100% owned by shareholders active in the firm, that also allows TCI to avoid any conflicts of interest that may arise when a firm is owned by a company that has a proprietary product-based investment solution.
TCI currently offers financial advice on investments, taxes, retirement, estate planning, insurance, education and cash flow strategies. It is one of the largest independent, registered investment advisory firms in the western United States and offers its services nationwide.
The firm is mainly located in Arizona with offices in Tucson, Scottsdale and Flagstaff, but it also has offices in Denver, Colorado, and Reno, Nevada.
The Value of Having a Wealth Advisor
In some ways, financial planning can be a lot like going to the dentist. Some people are eager to do it, while others dread it altogether.
Some people are optimistic about financial planning but may be unaware of better investment strategies — kind of like people who can’t see that they have a cavity or two, or more.
And some people know their finances are a mess, but avoid dealing with it at all costs!
The bottom line is that we all should visit the dentist, and — just as importantly — we should understand the state of our finances and how to improve it.
Some people are in great need of improving their financial plan, people who are close to retirement, for example, or a family who needs a road map to save for their children’s college education. But, overall, most people can benefit from the financial planning of a professional advisor.
TCI Wealth Advisors can serve the needs of anyone looking for education, advice or planning strategies, but those likely to benefit the most from the firm’s services are retirees and young professionals.
TCI’s process of engaging with a client starts with the discovery phase. The firm learns about all the client’s objectives, goals, values and financial status. It’s a critical stage because the more honest clients can be about their personal finances, the better TCI can serve them to their best interest.
Scott Bennett, Financial Advisor at TCI, said that the firm is not there to judge anyone’s financial situation or past decisions. But when clients are honest about their situation, it only serves to their benefit.
After the discovery process, TCI can then help create a complete financial life strategy that fits with the client’s long-term goals. That usually encompasses retirement goals, estate planning, possible business succession or charitable gifting.
TCI can then follow up with investment planning through a mutual commitment agreement so clients have a strategy for building assets as a foundation for their future goals.
Financial Literacy and Mentorship Through Nonprofits
Education is fundamental to the financial planning process. TCI knows that educated investors are the most successful investors, and education is critical in making informed decisions.
TCI’s approach to educating clients involves teaching them to make choices based on their well-being, rather than the amount of their savings. That’s why every aspect of TCI’s service is intended to reinforce education and ensure clients are confident and competent in their personal financial management.
The company has also played a role in creating a nonprofit organization called 3rd Decade. The nonprofit is designed to provide access to professional mentoring and financial education to those in their 20s and 30s.
3rd Decade was designed for that age group because there are already a number of organizations dedicated to helping high school and college students, but there aren’t many support systems for young professionals who are just getting started with their financial life planning.
Through the 3rd Decade® Program, qualifying applicants have the opportunity to participate in financial literacy classes. Participants will also build a two-year relationship with a financial mentor who will help them establish and manage a personal financial plan.
“It’s 10 hours of curriculum, and then they get paired up with their financial mentor,” said Bennett.
After passing a financial literacy exam and full commitment to the mentoring program, 3rd Decade will award a $250 Roth IRA match to eligible participants.
Strategies For Protecting Wealth in Uncertain Times
With all this talk about wealth management and personal investments, it would be hard to ignore how that is reflected in the current state of the economy. Record high inflation, anticipation of an official recession, and a tumultuously volatile market have investors fearful of what might happen next.
But Bennett said that, while it’s never fun to watch portfolios drop as much as 30% as they have recently, these factors are taken into account with TCI, and investors should look at the long-term economic trends.
“This is part of the plan. This is baked in. We ran the financials and we do that retirement cash flow strategy,” said Bennett.
For the advisors at TCI, the market volatility we are seeing is understandable and somewhat predictable based on how economic cycles operate. Bennett said that is also why education is so important.
“We fully believe this will bounce back,” said Bennett. “Interest rates are going to smooth out. They’re rising right now and the flip side is that we will be seeing higher rates of return on those fixed income portfolios than we did before–and that’s a good thing for retirees.”
He said a lot of TCI’s clients understand that principle, and even though times are a bit scary, they’re sticking to the plan and know that these market trends come in waves.
As for younger investors, they may be feeling more of a squeeze on their disposable income. But Bennett encourages them to follow the tide and continue their regular investment contributions, noting that these are retirement-based savings like IRAs, 401Ks and the like, and these younger investors won’t be touching that money for 20 or 30 years anyway.
TCI’s portfolio is based on traditional asset classes at this time, but it also has an investment committee that is constantly looking at every viable option.
Bennett said TCI believes clients should keep costs low and have efficiencies in their investment strategy — and the market will do what it does. And in doing so, clients can use time as an asset.
With TCI’s approach to financial education and sound, rational investments, it may be wise for current investors to take a breath and look at the whole picture when considering their long-term goals and the market.