25 Years Later: What Has Changed—and One Thing That Hasn’t

July 26 is the official 25th anniversary of the founding of Berno Financial Management, Inc. Statistics tell us that most new businesses fail in the first few years. I am proud of the fact that we were an early pioneer in the evolution of independent, fee-only comprehensive financial planning firms, which have become more of a model in the profession today.

Since day one, we have served as a fiduciary for our clients by always acting in your best interests. Today, the financial services industry continues to struggle with making the fiduciary standard a benchmark standard for the profession. Acting as a fiduciary is the highest standard by which to provide financial advice to individuals and families, and we will continue to abide by the highest standards possible. 

Much has changed in 25 years. Shortly after we were founded, we adopted the passive investment management concept that was prevalent among large institutions but had not been accepted in the individual marketplace. It has been humbling to see many financial service providers adopting the investment management strategies today that we have been using for many years. It is a strong endorsement of our process.

We continue to remain focused on the changes that are evolving in our world and how we can better serve our clients. For the past 10 years, we have dealt with the lowest interest rate environment that we have seen in decades. Also, inflation has been remarkably low.

In 2018, we are adapting to the largest single change in the income tax laws since the early 1980s. The estate tax laws have changed dramatically, fortunately in your favor. However, the higher estate tax exemption is changing the estate planning focus to income tax minimization while maintaining adequate control, protection, and ultimate distribution of family financial assets. It ain’t simple!

Technology has greatly improved our ability to serve clients. Again, we have been an early adopter of “account aggregation” to incorporate a client’s 401(k) retirement plan or 529 plan into their total portfolio. 

Several opportunities that we have today didn’t even exist in 1993, including Treasury inflation protected securities (TIPS), Roth IRAs, 529 plans, target retirement date funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and hybrid life and annuity policies with long-term-care insurance riders. We look forward to new opportunities in the years ahead.

One thing that hasn’t changed and never will is our appreciation for our clients. Your confidence and trust in us are never taken for granted. We are committed to working hard every day to continue to serve you better and better. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As always, please contact us with any questions, news, or comments.