Putting the Right Team Together for your Financial Future

Consider a typical day in your life as a pilot. You walk onto a plane and prepare for takeoff. You’re focused on your instruments, the weather, your flight plan. But who supports you so you can execute a successful flight? A lot of people. You depend on the ground crew, gate agents, flight attendants, dispatchers, air traffic control, airport personnel and many others. You place your trust in these professionals and they commit to supporting you so you can safely transport a plane full of people. There’s a lot riding on what you do, and you need the support of trained professionals to help ensure your success.

The same is true of your financial success. In order to execute a successful financial future, you need the support of trained professionals.

There’s a lot riding on your finances, and as an airline pilot, you face unique financial challenges, including:

  • An unpredictable industry – Including airline bankruptcies, bailouts, mergers and acquisitions, as well as events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Expectations – Airline pilots are known to have high salaries and often face pressure from co-workers, family members and friends to showcase a certain lifestyle. Trying to live up to these expectations can take a toll on your long-term financial security.
  • Mandatory retirement – With mandatory retirement at age 65, you have one shot to get this right.
  • An unexpected medical condition – If, during your annual medical certification renewal, you are diagnosed with a disqualifying medical condition, you may be at risk of losing your job.

A qualified financial advisor who has experience working with pilots can help you navigate unexpected events, strategically save and invest, help analyze pension decisions and allow you to live a comfortable life within your means while preparing for your long-term financial security.

Finding the right advisor can be difficult, and you need someone with more than just a winning personality. Focus first on competency. A properly qualified advisor should, at a minimum, be a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner. Preferably, he or she would also hold advanced degrees in business or finance and have a deep team to assist in areas beyond just financial planning and investing, providing services such as tax planning and estate planning.

Once you’ve found a competent advisor, be on the lookout for conflicts of interest. The vast majority of advisors are conflicted, meaning either they, their firm or both earn compensation based off of transactions or decisions you make. Ask any advisor you are considering if he or she is a Registered Investment Advisor that is “always and only” acting as a fiduciary for you. A fiduciary must fully disclose any potential conflicts of interest and is always required to act in your best interest.

A recent study by Vanguard in 20191 has shown that delegating financial responsibilities to an advisor can increase your level of confidence, help you maintain a disciplined process for managing your wealth and encourage constructive financial behavior – all of which may to lead to better outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, a financial advisor can relieve the burden and anxiety that comes with substantial wealth, providing you with more time to focus on what truly matters.

You wouldn’t navigate a flight without the support of qualified professionals, why would you navigate your finances alone?

Ready to take the first step in planning for your financial future? Aviation Financial Freedom can help. We are a specialty practice of Creative Planning, a Registered Investment Advisory firm with more than $60 billion in assets under management. Each of our teams specializes in working with pilots and includes an attorney, a CPA and a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner. These experienced professionals work with you to develop personalized financial plans that take into consideration your unique role as a pilot along with a wide variety of other factors, including your current financial situation, goals for the future and any challenges you may face. If you’d like to begin the process of delegating your finances, please schedule a call.

1 “Putting a Value on Your Value: Quantifying Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha”, Vanguard Research, February 2019.

As a Partner and Managing Director of Creative Planning, Andrew leads the firm’s regional office in Orange County. He and his team practice in the areas of investment management, retirement planning, tax and estate planning, business succession planning as well as charitable planning. His additional responsibilities include serving as a member of the firm’s Investment Committee where he helps shape firm wide strategy.

Christopher James is a pilot for Delta Air Lines and a member of the Aviation Financial Freedom practice development team. He supports Creative Planning’s Aviation Financial Freedom specialty practice by building bridges between the aviation community, with its specific financial wellness needs, and the firm’s comprehensive approach to financial management. He is passionate about helping other members of the aviation community reach their full potential, both professionally and financially. Chris has been in the airline industry for 13 years. He is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and flies the Airbus 320 aircraft.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.