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STORM SEASON
Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

One in Four Americans Don’t Have a Financial Plan – Are You One?

If you’ve been living your life without a financial plan, you’re certainly not alone. According to a Harris Interactive study sponsored by Nationwide Financial, 26 percent of surveyed adults with $100,000 or more in investable assets have not taken advantage of this important monetary planning tool. Thirty-one percent of them gave “I just have not gotten around to it yet” as a reason.

While it’s easy to understand how financial planning might take a back seat when family and career are monopolizing one’s time, other reasons the survey respondents cited for avoiding the task included:

  • “I don’t need one” (20 percent)
  • “I don’t know how” (16 percent)
  • “All the information I need is in my head” (15 percent)
  • “The thought of creating one is too overwhelming” (14 percent)
  • “I do not plan to retire for a long time” (13 percent)

Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents without a financial plan never intend to create one—a potentially huge mistake. In these days of a shrinking middle class and dwindling retirement entitlements, Americans are more responsible for their own financial security than ever before. Without a plan, setting and progressing towards short, medium and long term goals—such as buying a home, paying for education or saving for retirement—is exceedingly difficult. You need a map to reach your financial destination—and an investment professional to guide you.

According to the aforementioned survey results, 36 percent of respondents were not working with a financial advisor. Forty percent of them said they didn’t need professional help while 20 percent didn’t want to pay financial advising fees. Eleven percent didn’t believe they had enough assets to work with an advisor, and 6 percent were afraid to trust a stranger to handle their financial needs.

If you lack a financial plan and a financial advisor, the time to get one is now—whether you’re just entering your career or nearing retirement. Consider the following suggestions for finding and selecting an investment professional to help you navigate your financial future.

Seek out referrals. Ask your family, friends and co-workers about their financial advisors. If they’re currently working with a particular individual, ask why they chose him or her. You can also get recommendations from your accountant, tax preparer, banker or mortgage advisor as well as search for financial planners with excellent customer ratings online.

Meet with a number of professionals. Make appointments to get acquainted with your top choices. This should be a free, no-obligation meeting where you can evaluate each financial planner’s interpersonal skills. Take note of how interested they appear to be in your goals. Ask them how much contact they have with their clients and what makes their planning approach unique.

Evaluate their credentials. Investment professionals can earn more than 50 different designations. The letters after their name can tell you a lot about their experience, skills and specialties. Some of the more common include:

  • A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is trained in financial planning, estate planning and retirement planning as well as insurance, investments and taxes.
  • A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is trained in investment analysis and portfolio management.
  • A Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is trained in comprehensive financial planning.
  • A Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) is trained in the selection of investments, risk management and measurement of portfolio return.

Consider their compensation. Financial professionals may be paid through fees, commissions or a combination of the two. If commission based, the professional will earn money when you buy a product or service. If fee based, you will pay the professional for the time spent on you (a flat fee) or a percentage of the accounts managed for you. Fee plus commission professionals charge a fee for services and also receive a commission on any products they sell.