What is Summit Reserve Group?

When people ask me what I do, I like to say, 

"I'm a financial sherpa."

Of course, the usual response to calling myself a financial Sherpa is a puzzled look (“Are you listed under ‘Financial Sherpa’ in the phone book?”), so I go on to say I’m a financial planner. 

This usually dispels the confused expression, because people have heard that term before (and yes, they’ll find it in the telephone directory).  But actually, most folks don’t know any more about what I do than they did before I said “financial planner” — so I’ll continue, explaining that building personal wealth and mountain climbing have a lot in common, and having a Sherpa can make the difference between success and failure.

In fact, building personal wealth and mountain climbing really DO have a lot in common —  and in ways that illustrate exactly why it’s smart to work with someone who lives in and knows the territory.

Mountaineering — and investing — requires experience, ability, and technical knowledge.

One of the biggest disadvantages the individual investor faces in the 21st century is the technical sophistication of the financial system.  Big data moves markets — and moves them very quickly at times — so opportunities can vanish before the solo operator even gets the news.  To help put market data to work for our clients, we can provide our clients with access to institutional money managers in an attempt to take full advantage of market opportunities worldwide.

Mountaineers — and financial planners — divide the hazards of their pursuits into two categories, objective and subjective, and address each in specific ways.

For the mountaineer, “objective hazards” are essentially threats presented by terrain or weather — avalanches, storms, crevasses, etc. — and are external to the climber.  For the investor, these would be situations that have any adverse impact on the market in general or an individual strategy in particular — from political upheaval or technological revolutions to the contraction of a specific industry or failure     of a specific company.  

“Subjective hazards” are pitfalls created by the climber’s own deficiencies, including poor conditioning (or, lack of technical knowledge and access to forecasting information for the investor), inattention, poor planning, and panic in the face of imminent threats. 

Objective hazards tend to produce more anxiety for the investor — but subjective hazards are truly the most difficult issues for any individual investor to overcome, because, ironically, it requires objectivity. 

I’ve found risk assessment is one of my most important tools in overcoming both objective and subjective hazards for my clients — so I take the time up front to build a program suited to their personal goals and temperament.  As we progress together, my job as a financial Sherpa is to be on the lookout for objective threats.  Attention will help us avoid many of these — and when unexpected threats appear, as they ALWAYS will, I attempt to help clients avoid potential mistakes caused by panic during those times when the asset they need most is a cool head.

The sunniest time of day might feel like the best time to climb — but in fact, it may be the worst.   

When conditions appear most delightful to the climber in the peak warmth of the day, that sunshine may be producing subtle changes in the landscape that could potentially lead to falling rocks, snow slides, and avalanches.  The business cycle operates in a similar way.

As an experienced financial Sherpa, I can provide assistance to my clients as we navigate the business cycle’s uneven terrain.  I can help as they try to make wise choices both when the markets are down, and when “irrational exuberance” permeates an overheated market.

 

A descent from the mountain top is just as tricky as the climb.

Not only do climbers encounter the same hazards on the way down as the way up a mountain — but the temptation to give into gravity and move more quickly can lead to an additional hazard: altitude sickness.  If the descent is not careful, measured, and correctly paced, rapid changes in oxygen level can lead to grave illness or death.

In like manner, assets must be wisely managed when an investor transitions from building to using those assets.  This is an important focus of Summit’s financial planning services, one that has allowed many of our clients to achieve their goals and have resources left for others.*