Having clarity into your finances helps you on your path to financial freedom and achieving your goals. In this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast, host Marc Bautis discusses how Bautis Financial’s app provides a window into your financial world where you can see information about your financial accounts, net worth, investments, goals, spending and more.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How Wealth Center can provide you with a picture on all of your finances and alleviate you from having to log on to a multitude of financial websites.
- How organizing and providing structure around your finances can ease stress and anxiety.
- How Wealth Center’s dashboard can show if you are progressing towards achieving your goals.
- Why tracking your spending is about making sure your money is going towards your priorities, not about cutting out your daily coffee.
Getting your financial house in order is not easy. Some of the common things I hear from people that walk into my office are.
- I need some structure around my finances.
- I’m not sure where my money is going every month. Or
- I have accounts all over the place. Or
- What would happen to my money if we experience a recession
They don’t feel like they are making progress with getting to their financial goals. It’s difficult if not impossible to make progress towards your financial goals if you have no visibility into what’s happening with your finances. Today we are going to talk about 10 ways you can get clarity into your finances by using our tool Wealth Center and set you up for financial success.
Treat Your Personal Finances Like a Business
The first step to getting a handle on your finances is to understand what you have and where your money is going. Wealth Center can help you put together a Balance Sheet showing your assets and liabilities as well as a Cash Flow report showing what money you have coming in and where it’s going
Balance Sheet/Spending Report
Where is your money going and is it going to the right places?
Defining and Achieving Your Goals
After you determine where you are by putting together your balance sheet and cash flow report it’s time to figure out where you want to go. Setting goals can be a tough task, but it is an important step toward securing your financial future But once you set your goals, it’s important that you have a way of tracking your progress towards achieving them. The Dashboard displays the likelihood that you will achieve each goal. If one gets off track the earlier you take action to getting back on track the better.
All of Your Accounts In One Place
The Wealth Center allows clients to have one secure place to look at everything. We see many people with multiple accounts held at different financial institutions. Most financial institutions require you to log on to each one of their websites, and it’s time consuming. You have to remember your username, your password, reset your password for numerous accounts which can become complicated. When there are too many usernames and passwords to remember it can be frustrating so what people wind up doing is ignoring their accounts. The purpose of Wealth Center is to show how someone can get visibility into their finances to actually know what’s going on. It allows people to see the big picture with all the details included.
Whenever we talk about this app one of the concerns is having your information online, who has access to it and who can be granted access to it. The app has comprehensive security measures as secure as really any bank level. There are always cyber security risks with anything but there are technical details that if someone doesn’t want to see this encryption and the multi-factor authentication, any firewalls audience that the tool has, we’d be happy to share them.
Let’s get started. When someone logs on they’re brought to the dashboard. The dashboard provides an overview of your:
- Net Worth
- Spending summary.
The spending summary includes what’s coming in and what’s going out and only the client has access to view this feature. What’s great about Wealth Center is that you can click on almost everything and it will show you more detail. For example, if we start off with the Net Worth number it shows the dollar change for that month and also the year to date dollar change. Then there’s a similar feature with Investments where it shows you the total number of your investments as well as today’s overall dollar change and the percentage change in your investments. If you were to click on “Net Worth” or “Investments” the page would redirect you and dive deeper into your Net Worth and Investments.
Track Your Progress Over Time
If you read about enabling success or having success with anything, not just finances, it correlates with being able to track changes over time. If someone is trying to lose weight, they track calories. If you’re trying to improve your finances there are different things you want to track and your net worth is one of them as well as your savings and investments.
This feature provides a great way to show that you are making progress. For example, if we start off with the Net Worth number on the dashboard it shows the dollar change for that month and also the year to date dollar change. Then there’s a similar feature with Investments where it shows you the total number of your investments as well as today’s overall dollar change and the percentage change. If you were to click on “Net Worth” or “Investments” the page would redirect you and dive deeper into your Net Worth and Investments. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your financial situation is improving, but the Net Worth and Investments feature allows you to visualize progress being made.
On the dashboard page there is a list of all the accounts that you can link. The categories that are included are:
- Cash Accounts
- Credit Cards
- Taxable Accounts
- Tax Advantage Accounts
- Life Insurance Cash Values
- Stock Options
Any of the accounts that we manage will already be linked. If you have a credit card, checking account, savings account, etc. that we don’t have access to you can link the account as long as you already have online access to the account. If you don’t, it should be pretty straightforward to set that up with the bank your account is managed at. This is an efficient way to have all your information in one spot.
We’re always trying to improve the client experience and giving someone the ability to see their whole financial picture in one place is one way of making sure you’re on the right path to making progress.
Accountability Through Tasks
One of my favorite features that we want to talk about is the Tasks feature. It’s a way for us to let the client know that there’s something that requires their attention. The tasks tab can also be used if we need access to a client’s specific financial document before a meeting so that we have time to analyze it. Tasks are most frequently utilized after client meetings where we upload documents and assign tasks to the client.
The Tasks feature can go either way. We might need the client to take action or we might need to send the client something. We can assign tasks to clients and it’ll pop up on their personal Wealth Center account. An example of a task would be if we asked a client to send us their tax return or asked a client to notify us what their premium would be for a life insurance policy. When we assign these tasks, we set up a reminder and a due date. This allows everyone to stay on track with the task and make sure it’s not forgotten. The Tasks feature also allows you to view all the completed Tasks which is another way of keeping track of important information.
The task feature is a way that we can hold each other accountable too. I think everyone that comes to us wants to make progress and wants to improve their situation. It’s not just having a meeting and saying here are the things that we think should be done. It’s also making sure the steps to accomplish these goals get done.
Getting Notified Through Alerts
Another one of the favorite features on the app is Alerts. We get pulled in so many different directions during the day and alerts remind us if there is something important or critical that you may want to know about your finances.
The alerts are located under the Settings tab and there are four categories. The four categories are:
- Delivery Settings
- Personal Finance
When you view the delivery settings the two options to edit are email recipients and home page notifications. The email recipients ensure that the proper email you want linked to Wealth Center is being used. The home page notifications are your typical notifications and you can determine how long the notifications show on your home page. All these different alerts are customizable, so you can align the different ranges, dates, etc. with your personal preference.
Next up is the personal finance alerts. These are your basic financial summary alerts. You can choose if you would like to be notified if there is a low cash balance in your account, any large expenses, high credit card balances, or if you exceed your budget. All these alerts are tied to numbers so you can choose what value you would like to be notified at. An example would be setting the large expense value to $1,000, when an expense occurs that is larger than $1,000 you will receive an alert.
The investments alerts includes your typical investment activity. You can be notified if a specific type of investment transaction occurs such as transfers in/out, dividend income, capital gains income, etc. You can determine if you would like to be alerted if a stock or cash make up more than a certain percentage of your portfolio, you determine what percentage you are comfortable with. Monitoring the prices of specific stocks and or mutual funds is also available.
The last alert feature is the reminders. This is a noted feature for annual reminders. If you’re taking required minimum distributions from any of your retirement accounts you can set up a reminder that you need to meet your RMD requirements. You can also customize any important dates, whether it’s something about filing taxes or maybe just a birthday or anniversary, any date you want to remember can be included. You can align the reminders with your day-to-day life as much as you’d like to. You can also receive reminders for tasks that are assigned and any documents that are uploaded to the vault.
Organization With The Vault
Many times people come in and their main objective for working with us is wanting organization around their finances. The vault provides a way to organize your documents online, and one of the first things we do when we start working with someone is we create a folder structure within this vault. Let’s cover some of the folders that get created and how they’re used.
Some of the folders you will find are bank documents, cash flow, education, financial plan, insurance, investments, etc. When we set up the folder structure on our end we can see all the folders that have been created, but as the client if there are no documents in these folders you will not be able to view these folders until a document is uploaded to the folder.
One important folder that is also included is the Orion folder. Orion is an efficient software that we use and it creates reports for us and pulls in documents from TD Ameritrade. The Orion folder distributes its quarterly reports as well as the TD Ameritrade tax documents (1099s, etc.) and monthly statements. We were in the middle of tax season and we got asked a lot of questions such as, “Do you have my 1099?” “Do you have any IRA documents that need to be sent to my tax advisor?” These documents actually get uploaded automatically to the vault in the Orion folder. The client can easily pull their own documents that they need to send over to their tax advisor at any time.
There were two more important folders to be noted, and these are the My Documents folder and the Shared Documents folder. The My Documents folder is only for the client to access. Any documents uploaded by the client to that folder will strictly be visible from the client’s point of view but not ours. It gives some privacy for the client if they have something they don’t want to be shared with us, they can securely keep it there.
The Shared Documents folder is a secure way to send documents back and forth. If you go back a couple of years the cyber security concerns weren’t like they are now. The documents we send back and forth may have sensitive or private information on it so we do not like to send these documents through email. The shared documents is a safe way of exchanging data. Let’s say the client has a form that they need to fill out or sign, we can upload that document to the shared documents folder. The client can pull that document down, do whatever they need to do with it and upload it back to the folder once complete. It’s a much more secure exchange of information than it would be if we were to email.
Below is a link that shows what financial documents you should keep, how long you should keep them for, etc. It explains different things like legal documents, your benefits, insurance policies, taxes, property, and family documents. It lists out all the specific documents that are a good idea to keep and the vault is a great place to keep him.
Knowing Where Your Money is Going
Budgeting is a word that scares most people. Wealth Center has a great mechanism for tracking your spending and creating a budget that allows you to see if you’re on track to staying within your budget.
When you link your credit cards or debit cards you can track your spending, but we won’t see your expenses so that’s completely confidential. When you link those cards it will automatically pull in your transactions and categorize your expenses. Sometimes an expense might get mischaracterized, but you can edit the category of any expense very easily.
You’re also able to create a budget and there is a variety of categories offered so you can make it as detailed oriented as you wish. For example, if you want to make sure you were only spending $100 a month on dining out you can incorporate that into your budget. This is where those alerts come back into play, and if your alerts are set up Wealth Center will notify you if you’re approaching your budget or if you have gone over budget.
This feature helps clients keep track of their expenses and see where their money is actually going. The nice part about this feature is that you can track your spending based on the current month, the past 30 days, or you can customize it and look at whatever time frame you’re interested in viewing. This tool is a great place to start for the people who are trying to figure out how much they are spending or for those who find tracking their expenses to be intimidating. Begin by linking some of your credit or debit cards, maybe start with just one card. Even if you’re nervous to view your expenses you should rip that band aid off and maybe you’ll notice that it’s not as painful as it sounds.
By tracking your spending it’s what really gets you that clarity. It’s not about saying you can’t go to Starbucks and get a coffee. It’s more about having your money that comes in and making sure it’s going to the right places. Tracking your spending is one way of knowing whether someone is on track to hit their goals. Goals are attached to a cost such as allocating money towards retirement. If you’re tracking to save up for your kid’s education, there needs to be money that gets allocated to this goal. This is a way of ensuring that your money is working for you and going to the right places.
Understanding What I’m Invested In
The last thing I want to talk about is the investments feature. As mentioned earlier, upon logging in clients can see a big button that says, “Investments.” When you drill into that, you can actually get a lot of information about those investments. Everything from your account details, what holdings or securities are in the account, the account’s performance, transactions, and how the value has changed over time. The investments sections also show if there were any buys, sells, money deposited, money withdrawn, etc. It allows clients to get that clarity into everything and provides a feature mechanism to be able to see what’s going on at all times.
The other feature with investments is you can get a risk number associated with the investments in your portfolio. I always talk about wanting to know what risk you’re comfortable with and correlate that with how much risk you have and then how much risk you should have in your accounts. With market fluctuations people become more attuned to the risk they have in their portfolios and start to realize that investments don’t always go up over time.
You want to have the right amount of risk in your accounts, you don’t want to be too aggressive but you don’t wanna be too conservative. There is probably a certain amount of risk that you should have in order to reach your goals. This all comes back to how can we set you up on a path to achieve your goals? How to make progress on your goals over time? And where do you stand with these goals? This investment piece is one part that really helps provide that clarity. You can view this all on the desktop, on your laptop, or there is a mobile app that you can use which is very easy to set up. The mobile app has all the features that you can see on your computer. You can also view them on your phone or tablet as well.
Getting a Wealth Center Demo
Those are the main features. Victoria helps our new clients get on board with the tool. If someone has questions whether they’re a client or not a client and just wants to see a demo of how it works they can reach Victoria by setting up a meeting through her calendar link: https://calendly.com/victoria-102 or if you have any questions and just want to email her to set up a time you can reach Victoria at [email protected].
A lot of people like to get started and do things by themselves, so we also have a page on our website where someone can actually get started and play around with Wealth Center by themselves. You can test it out on our website at https://bautisfinancial.com/discover-how/. Take it for a test run and see if it can help you achieve your goals. Thank you all for listening to the Agent of Wealth podcast and have a great day!
Thank you for listening to the Agent of Wealth podcast. Click this subscribe button below to be notified when new episodes become available. The information covered represents the views and opinions of the guests and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Bautis Financial. The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial planning and investment advice. Always seek the advice of your financial advisor or other qualified financial service provider with any questions you may have regarding your investments and financial planning.