Yield of Dreams

What CFPs Are Saying About the Fiscal Cliff (Hint: Lots of Clichés)

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While I’m getting sick of hearing the phrase “fiscal cliff,” today is actually a critical moment in the fight over the issue, as Congress is not likely to vote on something in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, according to Barbara Novick, vice chair, founder and head of government relations at BlackRock.

“The real clock is Dec. 21,” Novick said, in a webinar last week. “Why do I say that’s the real clock? 80-plus members (of Congress) do not come back Jan. 1. I cannot believe that they’re going to come in between Christmas and New Year’s simply to vote on something.”

So in honor of the continued gridlock and frustration, here are what some CFP-holders are saying about the so-called fiscal cliff:

A Lot of Clichés

“I’ve long since learned ‘when in doubt, do nothing,’” said Dan Candura of the Candura Group in Boston. “So given the uncertainty about where the compromises may appear, I have not come down from the mountain bearing a tablet with the best steps to take now. I’ll leave that to the personal finance magazines. I take a long-term view based on certain principles such as: Save More, Spend less, Diversify, Ownership beats Loanership, Costs Matter, and Don’t Let the Tax Tail Wag the Dog.”

“While I don’t believe in letting the tax tail wag the financial planning dog, we are looking closely at any opportunities that exist on a client-by-client basis,” said Lynn Ballou, managing partner of Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors.

“My biggest concern is that they will ‘kick the can’ and we will get more fear and uncertainty,” said John Hauserman, founder of RetirementQuest in the Baltimore area.

Clients Are Numb

But CFPs’ conversations around the fiscal cliff aren’t all clichés. Some say clients are numb to the uncertainty.

“I think like most of us, my clients vacillate between being numb and being concerned,” Ballou said. “On the one hand they don’t want to pay extra taxes, but on the other hand they don’t want to live in nor leave a debt-ridden country to the next generation.”

“I think that most of my clients have become somewhat immune to the uncertainty coming out of Washington,” said Dan Matthews, a financial planner with Stepp & Rothwell. “They are almost numb to it. The markets haven’t yet reacted too negatively to the whole conundrum, so clients haven’t been calling or sending e-mails with concern. Only one client requested to go to cash, but he has very little faith in the current administration and was reacting based on his personal political beliefs.”

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Casting a gimlet-eye on asset management issues.

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