What makes fee-only planning so different?
Many financial advisors work on a commission basis. That means they get paid when you buy products from them, or invest in mutual funds that share fees with the advisor. Other advisors work on a fee-based system in which you may pay an hourly rate for a financial plan, but then your advisor also gets paid a commission when you buy one of the products suggested in the plan. Under commission and fee-based systems, the advisor has an interest in selling you certain products so they can earn commissions. Under a fee-only system, the way I work, I only get paid by you.
I don’t take any commissions or other fees from vendors, so I don’t have any incentive to sell you things you don’t need, or put you in particular investment funds. And, I can help you with financial questions that can’t be solved by traditional products for sale. I believe the fee-only way of providing advice best serves your needs.
Why is your being a fiduciary important?
As a fiduciary, I act in good faith and put your interests first. I will disclose any conflicts of interest I may have. Not all financial advisors will work this way, but most fee-only planners do. Putting your interests first is the only way I will conduct my business.
After you give me a financial plan, then what?
After I research your situation and present a financial plan, our engagement is concluded. However, there are usually follow up items that should be addressed. You can hire me to help you with those, or you can handle those items yourself. I view a financial plan as a work in progress that should be reviewed periodically. I recommend at least an annual review. All follow-up reviews are at your discretion and initiation – there is no continuing obligation.
If I only want to discuss a couple of issues with you, can we do that?
Yes – I can tailor a package of services to fit your needs and budget. You may not want or need a full financial plan, but help with a specific issue.
If I work with you do I have to give you my money to invest?
No. I do not take custody of client funds or have any control over them. Your accounts always remain in your name and under your control. I provide recommendations on how your money should be invested. It is then your responsibility to implement the plan.
If I need to buy something, like an insurance policy or a mutual fund, can you help me with that?
Yes. I have access to vendors I can recommend to you for insurance and other products. However, I do not receive any commissions or fees from any of the vendors I may suggest you work with. We are completely independent. For example, you may have a relationship with a particular brokerage or mutual fund provider and want to stay with that provider. That is perfectly acceptable to me. I can share with you my thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the particular provider, and help you make investment selections within your established parameters. You should note that any of the investments you choose will have fees separate from mine.
I don’t have any money to invest, but I have a lot of financial questions. Can I work with you?
Yes – absolutely. I can help you with advice and planning. I can help you no matter where you are on your financial path. However, if your budget for financial planning services is very limited, we may only be able to address your highest priorities. Let’s talk to prioritize your questions and see what makes sense for us to address on a limited engagement.