Navigating the World of Personal Finance

A Q&A With Advisors From Stepping Stone Wealth

How do you choose a financial advisor? That’s a question people ask themselves when starting or resetting personal finance planning. For answers we talked to advisors at Stepping Stone Wealth, A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, in West Hartford. While financial markets may fluctuate, Stepping Stone’s advisors can help you stay on track by taking  the time to understand you and your goals. We spoke with Camille M. Gagliardi, CFP®, CIMA®, BFATM, MBA, Private Wealth Advisor and Chester Darling, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®, CLU®, APMA™, CASL®, Financial Advisor about the ins and outs of navigating the world of personal finance and hiring an advisor. 

1. What are the biggest financial challenges facing people today?  

Camille: I believe the biggest financial challenge facing people today is the competition amongst their goals to allocate their income.  It is confusing to know how to prioritize building up a cash reserve, paying down debt, saving for retirement and saving for college for example.  Chester: In addition, it is hard for people to take that initial leap to start working on their financial picture.  It is typically a moment of transition that initiates action. 

  1. How can people be sure they're saving enough for retirement?
    Camille: I do not believe there is a cookie-cutter formula to cover this.  Everyone’s desired lifestyle in retirement is different.  Having a written financial plan to track your progress can keep you focused on reaching the goal. Chester: This is why our team believes in creating, implementing, and reviewing progress of a client’s financial plan.  

  2. What are common mistakes you see people make when managing their money? 
    Camille: Two common mistakes are ignoring their financial lives and not having adequate cash reserves.  When you do not have adequate cash reserves, it often results in creating higher interest rate debts as unexpected events occur. 

  3. How do financial advisors help people achieve their financial goals? 
    Camille: Financial advisors help people to reach their goals by allowing them to take a step back, review the situation holistically and put together an actionable plan that can be reviewed.  Chester: They do this by creating a trusted relationship and meeting regularly to track progress to their clients’ goals.  

  4. What are the most important factors to consider when choosing an investment strategy? 
    Camille: The three factors we consider in designing an investment strategy are:  time frame, risk tolerance and taxation.  We often see that someone either takes on too much risk for a short-term goal or perhaps not enough risk for a long-term goal.  Risk tolerance is particularly tricky because the words used, such as moderate, are subjective.  We work with our clients to quantify their risk tolerance and help them to understand what has historically happened given the level of risk assumed.  Finally, a tax-deferred portfolio should be designed differently than a taxable portfolio.For example, in a taxable portfolio, you must consider the potential impact on returns of realizing capital gains.

  5. How can families ensure their financial goals are aligned with their values and priorities? Camille: It is a worthwhile exercise for a family to develop their top 5 values.  This is a part of the work we do with clients.  We often say that a decision based on your top values increases the likelihood that is the right decision for the client.

  6. What sets your approach to financial planning apart from others in the industry? Camille:  What sets us apart is the services we provide to our clients.  We welcome being a part of all financial decision making in our clients’ lives.  We understand that our clients are looking to bring in a partner, so they don’t have to face all the choices alone.  Chester: This starts by building a trusted and balanced relationship with the client. 

Stepping Stone Wealth

57 N Main St.



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