Financial Planning

Financial Planning Overview

Lazarus Financial Planning specializes in the financial planning needs of socially responsible investors who are in their 20s to late 50s. 

Our work together is very collaborative -- with a mix of discussion, education and strategy -- and results in a cohesive financial strategy, based on what matters to you and continually adjusting to life's changing circumstances.

We address gaps and opportunities in all financial areas -- cash flow, debt, taxes, insurance, education, retirement, estate plans, philanthropy, and investments. We look at your whole picture, help you implement integrated solutions, and continually adapt to life's ever changing needs.

Effective planning integrates your evolving situation so you're always making new decisions having integrated relevant and timely information. My role is to walk alongside you, listening, bringing to your attention new opportunities, avoiding missteps, and offering advice based on what matters most to you.

We review all areas of your financial life:

life values and goals
cash flow
debt
taxes
insurance
education
retirement
estate
philanthropy
investments

...and talk about areas you don’t anticipate when you initially hire me.

Fees

There are many ways financial planners are paid, but many don’t provide a full range of financial planning services to earn their fee.

Everything is integrated at Lazarus Financial Planning -- initial financial planning, implementation assistance, ongoing investment management, and ongoing financial planning -- and included in the flat, predictable, monthly, full service retainer fee.  

Are you currently getting the same value?

Comparison of Services and Fees

Lazarus Financial Planning

Asset-based Advisor

Commissioned Advisor

Form of compensation

Flat retainer   
(based on net worth)

Percentage of portfolio
(typically 1%)

Commission
(varies by product)

Minimum investable assets

None

?

?

Puts your interests 
ahead of our own

Always

It depends

No

Cohesive overall strategy

  ? ?

Goals setting and monitoring

  ? ?

Net worth review

  ? ?

Cash flow management

  ? ?

Assistance choosing or refinancing a mortgage

  ? ?

Assistance making decisions about financing 
a major purchase or starting a business

  ? ?

Proactive tax planning and minimization

  ? ?

Review and selection of employee benefits

  ? ?

Review and selection of insurance policies

  ? ?

Education planning

  ? ?

Retirement planning

  ? ?

Philanthropic planning

  ? ?

Estate planning

  ? ?

Portfolio design, implementation and monitoring

  ? ?

Selection of specific investments for every account

  ? ?

Socially responsible mutual funds 
and community investments

  ? ?

Planning topics specific to unmarried couples

  ? ?

Planning topics specific to women

  ? ?

Harmony between couples around money

  ? ?

Implementation assistance

  ? ?

Collaboration with attorneys, CPAs, insurance agents, etc

  ? ?

Proactive review & adjustment to evolving circumstances

  ? ?

What are the fees for Financial Planning and Investment Advisory Services?

Lazarus Financial Planning is a fee-only financial planning firm, which means I am paid only by you.

  • I do not sell products -- such as: investments, annuities, or mutual funds -- to subsidize the cost of planning.
  • I do not accept commissions or referral fees based on the advice I provide you.

At Lazarus Financial Planning:

  • New clients, upon signing the Letter of Agreement, pay a one-time "getting started" fee equal to three months of the monthly retainer fee.
  • The ongoing, fully transparent, flat, predictable, monthly fee is your full service retainer fee. The following fee table outlines how I calculate your fee. 

How do I pay you?

  • You pay me directly by check, each month. I will help you set this up so it happens automatically.
  • I do not deduct any fees from your investment accounts.

Please note: the first six tier levels are currently full. If your net worth points to one of these, your retainer fee will be $1,030/month and your one-time "getting started" fee will be $3,090. I will consider an expection to this minimum for high income households who are committed to a high level of savings.

 

Net Worth
[total assets - total liability] 

Ongoing

Monthly Retainer Fee

-and-

One-Time

Getting Started Fee

$0 - $500,000 $350 -and-  
$500,000 - $750,000 $490 -and-  
$750,000 - $1 million $630 -and-  
$1 million - $1.25 million $735 -and-  
$1.25 million - $1.5 million $840 -and-  
$1.5 million - $1.75 million $935 -and-  
$1.75 million - $2 million $1,030 -and- $3,090 
$2 million - $3 million $1,455 -and- $4,365
$3 million - $4 million $1,880 -and- $5,640
$4 million - $5 million $2,305 -and- $6,915
$5 million - $6 million $2,730 -and- $8,190
$6 million - $7 million $3,155 -and- $9,465

FAQ

 

What are your credentials?

I'm a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™and a NAPFA-Registered Investment Advisor. These are the two credentials in the industry with the highest ethical and educational standards.

 

How are you compensated?

I am compensated directly by the check you write me. I am a fee-only planner, which is different from a fee-based planner.

Fee-only means you will pay none of the other fees that dominate the financial industry:

  • No commissions
  • No referral fees
  • No trailing fees
  • No churning fees
  • No account fees
  • No hidden fees

Will I always work with you, or will I be working with a junior staff person?

You will always work directly with me. 

 

Do you work with people outside of the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area?

Yes, regularly. We meet via GoToMeeting video conferencing. 

 

Your advice covers a lot of financial ground. How can one person know it all?

While I work for myself, I have a team of resources. From the very beginning I have made time to foster my network of accountants, attorneys, mortgage brokers, insurance agents and other financial advisors. Whenever I need to tap into someone’s expertise or experience, I know whom to call and my personality is such that I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. This is in addition to what I do to keep on top of it all: reading a lot, subscribing to several industry newsletters that bring my attention to cutting-edge thinking, attending 2-4 professional conferences each year, and actively participating in multiple groups of NAPFA advisors. You can read more here about some of the things I do to "keep the saw sharp."

 

Since you don’t sell any products, will you help me buy the products (such as life insurance) that I need?

Yes. I will work with any agent you like, but over the years I have learned whom I trust the most. Since I am not a licensed insurance agent, I rely on Low Load Insurance Services as my “back-office for insurance solutions", and my clients have been as happy as I have been with their skill and service. 

 

What about other professionals -- such as accountants, attorneys, mortgage brokers, or even a therapist skilled in money issues? Will you give recommendations for them?

Absolutely. I consider it an important part of my job to know which professionals will best meet your needs. I regularly take time to meet with accountants, attorneys, mortgage brokers, and therapists so that I may recommend someone trustworthy and competent. I will always offer to provide you with multiple names of people, so that you can find the person that has the best match for your personality.     

 

I already have an investment advisor, but he is only concerned about my investments. Does it make sense to work with you and still work with him?

It depends. If your investment manager is choosing individual stocks and bonds for their fee, I equate it to the mutual fund managers I choose for my clients. You’re paying a fee for investment management with either strategy. An investment manager isn’t looking at the whole picture though, and that’s where I come in, so it can be a good match.

However, if your investment manager is choosing mutual funds or ETFs for their fee, then it won't make sense to hire me since you won't need the investment management advice I offer. My financial planning advice and investment management are wrapped up together in one fee. You'd be better off hiring a fee-only planner who charges an hourly fee. That way you can get the financial planning advice you need, but you won't be paying for another layer of investment management. Check out NAPFA or Garret Planning Network.

 

Do you take control of my assets or have access to them in any way?

Your assets will be held at third-party custodians or directly by you. You grant me discretionary authority to place trades in your investment accounts on your behalf, based on the decisions you’ve made. 

 

What’s your account minimum?

I do not have investment account minimums because your fees are independent of your investment accounts. However, I do have a minimum retainer fee. It is currently either $1,030/month. My fee table is disclosed here

 

Will you give me specific advice on what stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to purchase or sell?

I provide specific advice on which socially responsible mutual funds and community investments to purchase. If you have other types of mutual funds or individual securities and want to sell them, I will design a prudent sell strategy. I also provide specific advice on the mutual funds in your 401k or 403b.

 

Do you work with people who want to use index funds or don’t want socially responsible investments?

No. I’ve chosen to work exclusively with people who share my passion for socially responsible investing. However, please visit NAPFA's website for a list of other fee-only financial planners.

 

How does your financial planning look different from the 62 page report my neighbor got?

It’s very different. For one, my financial planning process is very discussion-centric and is absolutely tailored to what I’ve heard from you. Once we begin working together, I go through each and every document you provide me, and sketch out the agendas for several meetings. My starting point as I prepare the agenda for each of our meetings is to ask myself: what is most important to discuss at this point, and what do they need to see to be able to make an informed decision? I create what I call “exhibits” to pull it all together on paper in a way that demystifies the content. For projections of your long term goals, we use interactive financial planning software to do “live planning” together in our meetings. We’ll finish each meeting by itemizing our respective next steps. We meet as often as we need to meet, to discuss what is most pressing on your mind at that point in time (or to discuss what I strongly feel needs to be discussed immediately), and keep moving forward. 

 

How often will my financial plan be reviewed?

Since my approach is more about the ongoing process of planning rather than creating a financial plan, we are in regular contact throughout the year. I describe my approach as “flexibility within discipline". Flexbility: I’m available to you whenever you need me and encourage you to proactively contact me as your life changes, plus I contact you throughout the year as I come across new information which impacts you. Discipline: we will review all parts of your financial life at least once each year.

 

I haven’t heard from my current advisor for a while now, will that be my experience with you?

No. I designed my firm to be a boutique planning firm with a select number of clients, allowing me to be very involved in the lives of my clients. 

 

Do you work with people who just want help with their cash flow?

Yes. I offer hourly Cash Flow Consultations focused specifically only on questions related to paying off your debt, saving more, spending more intentionally, and regaining control of your cash flow. Cash flow is the essential first step to successful financial planning. 

 

What should I bring to the complimentary first meeting?

Once we schedule our meeting, I’ll ask that you complete a questionnaire and return that to me at least one week prior to our meeting.  I’ll also email you several regulatory documents for you to read in advance of our meeting.

 

Did you know

less than 1.5% of financial advisors are fee-only + comprehensive?