February 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - A bumpy economy may have upended the investment plans of many people, but the turbulence hasn’t kept Eve Kaplan from helping her clients to build a financial bedrock.
“People are aware that they may have to work longer than they anticipated before being able to retire,” said Kaplan, a Certified Financial Planner and owner of Kaplan Financial Advisors, LLC in Berkeley Heights. “But many are still not aware of the risks and opportunities related to a wide variety of financial products, from investments to insurance policies. I work closely with clients to understand their needs, comfort level and general situation and then help them design and maintain a sound approach to their finances.
"My average client has at least $1 million of investment assets that I manage while offering unlimited financial planning support," said Kaplan, whose number of investment assets under management has grown steadily over the last several years.
Kaplan’s 30-year investment background includes high-level domestic and international experience in the equities and mutual fund markets, the kind of exposure that helps her to guide clients in both bull and bear markets.
“People can get nervous in turbulent times and find it difficult to stay the course when it comes to their investments and planning,” Kaplan said. “Part of my job is to assist them in maintaining a long-term view that will enable them to ride through the rough patches.”
One of the ways she does that is with a “Financial Road Map.”
In a session lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, Kaplan meets with prospective clients to gain an understanding of their core values and financial goals, and to benchmark their current financial position while exploring their goals. Kaplan subsequently updates each client’s Financial Road Map at least once quarterly.
“Once we’ve established a clear understanding of their situation, in non-judgmental way, we can move on to sophisticated, long-term financial planning,” she said. “This typically includes monitoring and rebalancing assets, prudent investment in low-cost, high quality mutual funds or other investments, updating insurance needs, and crafting estate strategies. We may also look at rolling clients out of more expensive annuities, and devise ways to minimize taxes. Sometimes we get our team CPA involved beyond annual tax projection and tax filing work.”
Kaplan combines precision analytics with an approachable, inclusive style, which she says works well with many couples.
“One person may need or like a technical approach to planning but the spouse or partner may quickly feel lost,” she said. “Our approach marries the two styles. This helps clients who feel unsure about financial issues, but seek guidance from a knowledgeable professional who won't snow them under with excessive techno-talk.”
As a fee-only advisor, Kaplan said she avoids the conflicts that can arise if an advisor earns commissions from financial products providers.
“I’m not wedded to any single product or approach,” she explained. “Instead, my advice is transparent and independent, placing the client’s needs front and center.”
Kaplan’s advisory work addresses many financial planning issues, including developing strategies to help clients avoid outliving their assets, addressing retirement timing questions, starting a new business, setting up cash flow projections, college funding strategies and risk minimization, or insurance.
“Setting up an initial plan and putting it in writing is only the beginning,” she said. “To be effective, we periodically meet and I develop an updated ‘snapshot’ that shows clients where they stand in terms of financial strength. We review our investment strategy to make sure it best addresses ongoing client needs.”
Changing tax and estate planning rules, a challenging economy and other issues mean clients need to be ready to react to challenges and opportunities, Kaplan says.
“Many of them are focusing on other matters, like their family, and their job or business,” she said. “I’ve got the experience and training to deal with markets and other issues, and I, along with my team of professionals, can help them to balance their financial needs with their day to day living so they’re better prepared to meet their own goals and objectives.”