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?