Always Start with Financial Planning

Washington Trust Bank’s Wealth Management & Advisory Services experts know the success in reaching your financial goals is to have strategic financial planning.

We lead with Financial Planning.

“Always start with financial planning,” says Zach Bethel, a Relationship Manager within the Wealth Management & Advisory Services division of Washington Trust Bank. “My primary role is to do financial planning for our clients and prospects to help them achieve their desired outcomes throughout their financial life. We find that one of the biggest mistakes that can be made is investing your assets without a financial plan.”

This commitment to strong financial planning permeates the entire Wealth Management & Advisory Services division.

“One of the keys to financial planning is really sitting down and taking time to do it right the first time,” says Jamie Sumner, Vice President and Senior Wealth Strategist at Washington Trust. “That, in our opinion, involves getting all your key partners involved: CPA and legal advice if there’s that aspect in your relationship, but also just understanding the fact that a financial plan is a living document, and it evolves over time.”

Sumner focuses on high-net-worth individuals, families and business owners, guiding them into financial plans that evolve over time. “There are a lot of life events and key things that happen that will alter the path of that financial plan, so it is key that our clients understand the thread and the importance of having all of your partners at the table when we sit down to initially discuss a financial plan.”

“Financial planning is not a one-and-done situation with our clients,” says Bethel. “We like to work with them throughout their entire financial life.”

A financial partner who is committed to you for the long run is able to understand and respond to the inevitable changes that life brings. “You can start a financial plan with a specific goal in mind but there are so many variables that come into play in life, in everyday circumstances, that you never know if that path will alter at some point,” says Sumner. “I think that’s one of the things that our clients value the most about working with Washington Trust Bank is the very hands-on approach, and not only with the client but with their key partners.”

This commitment by members of the Wealth Management team to include a client’s attorneys and tax experts and every member of their financial team is critical because these experts are involved in a client’s larger financial picture, and it is key that they are part of that discussion in creating a financial plan and reaching a client’s long-term goal. To reach that goal, the Wealth Management team considers every aspect.

“We need to see your full financial picture,” says Bethel. “We need to see your tax documents, your life insurance, your long-term care policies, your homeowners’ policies, if you own a business, all of that information. We really need all of that information to make a good accurate financial plan. We try to make this easier by giving you online access to upload your information through an aggregation tool that allows us to see your actual holdings at other institutions, the tax base on all of the assets that you own and really come up with a tax efficient way to convert those assets into your financial plan.”

While researching and gathering essential information and documenting the planning of all the involved partners falls under the nuts and bolts of financial planning, addressing the emotional side of the process is an under-the-radar and underappreciated aspect of what Washington Trust does. “Whether you’re selling a business that maybe you’d hoped would go to a second generation of your family but it's not, or you're planning for a retirement that you know in your mind looked a lot different from how it looks on paper, some of the best feedback I've gotten from our clients is helping them navigate the emotional component and understanding that there is a softer side to what we do,” says Sumner.

The members of the Wealth Management team have the background and experience to help clients understand that some of those softer and more emotional concepts of planning and realizing their dreams are essential to the process.

“The financial plan also takes out the emotions of the market roller coasters that we can experience,” adds Bethel. “Having a set financial plan removes the emotional component of wanting to sell out when assets are down and really just staying the course. We find study after study shows that the average investor underperforms the market because they make the wrong decisions because they are completely emotion driven.”

Managing the emotions, the logistics and the involvement of every financial team partner, in order to craft a detailed and unique financial plan, is what the Wealth Management team does for our clients. We work together to create a plan that provides understanding and confidence to our client’s financial requirements are met.

Financial planning is also essential if you are considering the sale of a business. Be sure to see our video on the Sale of a Business.