Financial Planning in Practice at BentOak Capital

9 May 2023

Financial Planning in Practice at BentOak Capital

Fiduciary matters 

A fiduciary relationship encompasses the idea of faith and confidence in someone else.  Such a relationship can only happen when a person or family actively gives their utmost trust (faith, confidence) to another person or people.  We hold ourselves out as fiduciaries.  As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners, that’s a baseline expectation.  The advisors of BentOak Capital add to that baseline a genuine sense of honor, loyalty, and duty of care that goes beyond the “letter of the law” and gets to the heart of why we do what we do.  People walk into our office or talk to us on the phone about extremely personal things; perhaps things only a bare handful of people in the world know about that person.  That is a sacred trust, and we treat it as such. 

As a fiduciary, we act in the best interests of our clients, always, at all times, in every situation.  That philosophy grounds how we interact with our clients, including, but not limited to: 

  • Whether BentOak Capital is a good fit for them, or not 
  • Whether they should invest their money with us, or not 
  • Fully understanding their values, wants, and wishes as well as their financial situation.  Understanding and paying attention to how their values, wants, wishes, and financial status can change over time. 
  • What advice we offer them, and how, and when 
  • How their money is invested, both now and over time   

Behavior matters 

There’s not a lot of magic about financial planning; it’s part art and part science.  A very large part of what we do in planning revolves around facts and numbers, statistics and probability, historical data and future forecasts.  That’s the science part.  The art is how to apply these facts and statistics and probabilities to individual human beings for their benefit.  Behavioral Finance is the field of study focused on understanding the intersection between money and people, and we put a lot of stock in the insights of that field.  Sometimes the mathematically best or probabilistically best path for a client is not actually the best option for them at that time.  Maybe they won’t stick to the plan.  Maybe their priorities differ from the “optimal” priorities we might otherwise suggest.  The best financial plan is the one that provides the maximum good for the person or family in question – and that means the plan has to be implemented and maintained over the long term.  The art of financial planning is creating and implementing a strategy that will actually work in the real world, not one that is best in theory or is most comfortable for us.   

We don’t sell, we solve 

At BentOak Capital, we have a large set of tools and supplies we can take off the shelf to create and implement a realistic, actionable plan for the families that trust us.  We start from the top with a client’s values, wants, wishes, and financial situation.  Then we work our way to the bottom – the specific accounts, products, professional referrals, contracts, documents, and more.  We are product agnostic: we look to use the right tool for the specific job at hand.  Among (many) other things we need to consider: 

  • Cash flow and ongoing lifestyle needs 
  • Liquidity vs insurance as risk mitigation tool 
  • Market probability vs. contractual guarantees with regard to longevity and time horizon 
  • The desire to leave a legacy, or not 

Planning for a season or a lifetime 

A financial plan is not a one-time event captured with graphs and numbers in a document or on a website.  BentOak Capital actively seeks a long-term relationship with people who are willing to trust us, our expertise, and our experience.  Note that we want a relationship – two-way, conversational, always seeking a better understanding – and we want it to be long-term – not transactional, not defined solely by account performance relative to an arbitrary benchmark.  A financial plan is not a roadmap; getting a client from where they are to where they want to be is not simply a matter of giving directions and waving goodbye.  Real financial planners are knowledgeable guides; providing advice and options, warning of icebergs ahead, charting a course around them – always knowing that it’s the client’s job to steer the ship but actually being onboard with them. 

Telling the story 

We listen actively: seeking to understand.  We plan thoroughly: incorporating as much context as possible.  We learn continuously: there is always more to do.  We advise confidently: trusting in our experience and expertise.  We communicate humbly: knowing there are other possible answers, knowing that tomorrow, plans may need to change.  We act with faithfulness: the interests of our clients must come first, always. 


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.    

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More about the author: Chris Sargent