David and Marijane Smith
entrepreneur (David); realtor, Newport Realty (Marijane)
57 (David); 61 (Marijane)
I’ve been investing for:
15 years for David, 20 for Marijane
David’s in his first year of retirement. Marijane has no firm plans to retire.
$500,000 to $750,000
How long we’ve had an advisor:
15 years (now called Beacon Hill Management)
The adventure begins
We met as crewmembers on a charter yacht that once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. After we married, I [David] continued to sail for fun; I never thought I’d be content in one place. I [Marijane] worked in Victoria and looked after our two children.
With a young family, we didn’t have extra money to invest, but we had a house. A neighbour who fancied himself a financial advisor encouraged us to invest our home equity in some stocks. We don’t remember the details, but his offer was enticing. Those on the block who took his bait lost their money. Thankfully for us, Marijane had stood firm; she saw our home equity as inviolable. I’m [David] now grateful for such long-term vision, especially now that Victoria, B.C., has become my true home.
Our man in Victoria
We regret not saving earlier, but we started as soon as we had disposable income. Our advisor, referred by a friend, gave us the push we needed. He was persistent, insisting that we save a monthly amount, and he followed up with phone calls if we dragged our heels.
But lots of people can be persistent (our neighbour was). What set our advisor apart was persistence combined with integrity. When he shared with us his background in banking and business, we realized he wasn’t simply an advisor. Rather, he had broad industry experience, including entrepreneurship, as did I [David]. This solid background made him trustworthy. And he trusted us in return: Once we had a good track record of saving regularly, there was no pushback when we missed a month here and there.
His financial modeling, in which we were asked questions that got progressively more detailed, helped us zero in on our goals, particularly for our retirement planning. The questions covered a range of subjects, from risk comfort level to potential travel destinations in retirement, to healthcare costs we might incur when we’re older. We’re grateful for that personal, detailed service because it gives us piece of mind.
Our advisor’s daughters became advisors, one of whom we now work with, along with her husband. The second daughter is also a partner at the firm. Between the three of them, they’ve worked in Toronto, New York, London and Singapore, so we have reason to be confident in their abilities.
It’s also helpful to work with a couple. When we have different perspectives, our advisors create clear, easy-to-understand documents showing the outcomes of our different choices (e.g., different retirement time horizons for Marijane, or the results of purchasing a second property). We both feel heard and understood, and can more easily choose a course of action.
by Michelle Schriver, assistant editor of Advisor Group.