Are You “Ahead Of The Curve” When Life Throws You Changes?

By Mark Colgan, CFP®

There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than developing a plan, only to have an unexpected event unravel it. But unfortunately, this is life. As much as we like to think we’re in control, the truth is, we rarely are.

For this reason, Montage Wealth Management is excited to announce our new financial planning program: Ahead of the Curve℠. This proactive approach weaves change into your financial planning process, balancing the inevitability of change with the goals you have for your future.

If you’re within 5 years of retirement, this concept becomes ever more important. You’re approaching a point in your life where if significant change occurs, you have less time to deal with and recover from the change. We believe the best strategy is to anticipate its inevitability and optimize the circumstances that life may throw at you.

Change Is Inevitable

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is full of change and anything can happen at any time. And as it often works out, life’s most significant changes occur when we least expect it.

Sometimes these changes result in new opportunities or push us to positive growth as we work to overcome new challenges. Other times, change can be destructive and completely derail us from our carefully crafted plans for the future. 

Either way, those who are able to cope with change are in a better position to survive and adapt. Even more so, people who are positioned to expect or even seek out change may in fact thrive.

4 Types Of Change

From our point of view, there are 4 types of change that can alter your plans. These 4 types of change are:

  • Expected and wanted change
  • Unexpected and wanted change
  • Expected and unwanted change
  • Unexpected and unwanted change

Expected and wanted change are changes that you work toward, such as graduation, marriage, and starting a family. These changes are expected because you plan for them and you look forward to them happening.

Unexpected and wanted changes are essentially strokes of good luck. These can include winning the lottery (wouldn’t that be nice?), inheriting wealth, or suddenly switching jobs if a better opportunity comes your way.

Expected and unwanted change allows us to plan for negative situations. Expected but unwanted change can include the death of a spouse, the aging process for yourself or others, or your children leaving the house and starting their own lives. This change is not ideal, but we can at least plan for it.

Unexpected and unwanted changes often bring the most challenge of the four. Unexpected, unwanted changes may include the loss of a job, incapacitating injury, terminal illness, or a stock market crash. We all hope these things won’t happen to us, but it’s good to be prepared if they do. 

Preparation Can Alter Change

While change is inevitable, many people aren’t properly prepared for it. This approach of “winging it” can be hazardous to your future.

When life presents changes, the decisions we make in response can have a huge impact. Whether we must decide how to mitigate damages or cease opportunities, the path we take at that moment will change the direction of our journey—and our future. Suffice it to say, how we respond to change is crucial.

Interestingly, with even a little preparation, we can positively influence our response to change.  If you’re unprepared for a change, you are at risk of being put in a situation where you’ll need to make decisions very quickly and while in an emotional state of mind. A clear disadvantage when compared to someone who chose to prepare for such a change before it occurred, with plenty of time to think things through logically.

Staying Ahead Of The Curve

A traditional financial planning process always starts by documenting your goals—what you want to achieve. But a lot of life’s most important events typically don’t show up on your list of goals. Changes have a way of taking people by surprise or are simply things that people don’t strive for. These are not reasons to ignore them. 

Our Ahead of the Curve℠ program helps you identify and proactively prepare for several changes, or what we call “what-if scenarios.” In fact, we continuously evaluate and update your financial plan to reflect changes that have taken place and new changes that become more likely. It is essential to increasing the likelihood you will achieve your goals.

We Can Help You Optimize Life’s Changes

At Montage Wealth Management, our approach to financial planning incorporates life’s important changes. Goals are an important part of the process, but you’re not always guaranteed to reach your goals. However, you are always guaranteed to experience change. Building change into your financial plan helps you understand how to better respond to change and influence its outcomes.

If you’re looking for a financial planner who takes a thoughtful and realistic approach to planning and helping you reach your goals, call us at 585-419-2270 or email us at info@montagewm.com to get started.

MARK COLGAN

Mark Colgan is a Founding Partner and Private Wealth Advisor at Montage Wealth Management with over 27 years of experience. Mark is passionate about providing proactive, comprehensive financial services to corporate executives and busy retirees so they can do more of what they love.

Through his proprietary Ahead of the Curve℠ planning process, Mark helps his clients prepare for change, both expected and unexpected, wanted and unwanted, so they can take advantage of the opportunities change brings and secure their future. Mark also specializes in helping people handle the logistics of a loved one’s death and is the author of Details After Death.

When he’s not working, you can often find Mark mountain climbing and working towards his goal of climbing all 46 of the high peaks in the Adirondacks. Mark lives in Honeoye Falls, NY, with his wife, Kathy, and their beautiful children, Christopher and Emily. To learn more about Mark, connect with him on LinkedIn.