By Peter Mauthe Watching the NFL playoff games this past weekend, I noticed the winning teams’ quarterbacks got much of the credit and much of the press. But there are 53 players on each team’s roster and many more behind them contributing to each team’s success. That got me thinking about how few important and successful things happen because of only one person, event, or factor. For example, each flight we take has an onboard flight crew of about six that we depend on to be experienced and well trained. However, there is also an additional support team on the ground, in the tower, and in the monitor-laden control room planning and tracking every flight we take—as well as many more providing daily, active support. Another example is our health. You can’t achieve good health by taking a magic cure-all pill or by making a single choice or performing a single action. Good health is most often the result of many small, good choices and actions. Collectively, these choices and actions greatly increase the probability of achieving a long and healthy life. Note that I said “greatly increase the probability,” not “guarantee.” Investing success is more than the sum of its parts Like good health, investing success is also most often the result of many small, good choices and actions. Of course, some of you may be thinking, “What about those that win the lottery?” First, anyone who’s financial plan depends on winning the lottery is probably not thinking clearly about increasing their probability of financial success since the odds of winning are astronomically low. Second, even winning the lottery isn’t the result of just one action. Millions of people have to buy tickets and lose to allow for a single winner. A better way to increase your probability of financial success is to consistently make good choices and take positive action over a long period of time. The first choice is usually how to manage your spending to allow for saving and investing. This seems to be easier said than done. Once people conquer their spending and have savings, they must then make good decisions on how to invest those savings. I have reviewed many surveys on retirement savings. One that caught my eye recently came from a TD Ameritrade report, as described by Kathleen Elkins in an article for CNBC. The following illustration shows how much the people surveyed (2,000 U.S. adults ages 40–70) have saved for retirement. What struck me is that a shocking 79% have less than $500,000 in retirement savings. This is not much money when considering how long one is likely to spend in retirement and how costly it may become to pay for goods and services beyond retirement income sources. Besides, retirement income sources such as Social Security and pensions are likely to face many challenges of their own in the future, and they may not provide as much income as they once have. Another survey found that 41% of Americans could not afford a surprise expense of $1,000 or more. The point? It seems we all could do with a little more support to help us achieve our financial goals. We’re part of your financial support team While we can’t take all of the actions you need to attain financial success, we can help optimize your good decisions about your spending and saving habits by making good decisions on how to invest those savings. All of us at Flexible Plan work together with thousands of financial advisers to provide individuals with tailored investment advice on how to manage their savings—whether those savings are in a retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.), an individual account (personal, joint, trust, etc.), or an entity account (corporation, foundation, LLC, LLP, etc.). When we are trusted to manage investments for a client, everyone in the company has a role in making, supporting, implementing, and verifying investment decisions. Though many people are involved in these investment decisions, the decisions themselves are based on research, testing, and vetting by our experienced and knowledgeable Research team. Our Trading team then implements the decisions without subjective intervention. One of the amazing things about this process is that it is repeated every day for every client to support and augment their efforts to save and invest. This means Flexible Plan has an active approach to investment management compared to the passive approach offered by many target-date mutual funds. We employ this active approach because we understand that market and economic conditions change with time, sometimes rapidly. Over time, it is not one thing, but rather the many players’ collective choices and actions on an investor’s financial team that helps increase the probability of financial success.