Do you have a minimum asset requirement?
We work with a broad variety of clients and families across generations, and with disparate asset and income levels. Our primary concern is that the relationship is a good fit based on your needs and how we feel we can be of value to you. Therefore, we have never imposed a limitation, but prefer to judge each unique situation before determining whether an engagement makes sense or not.
Will you help me learn what I need to know?
Yes. One of our primary purposes is to help bring clarity to the financial issues that arise in our clients’ lives, to communicate in plain language, and then, through collaboration with you, to assist in finding solutions to problems.
What role will a financial advisor have in my life?
Our focus is on you as an individual or a family, understanding your evolving situation and your needs, the unique circumstances of your life, and how you want to progress over time. We then apply investment processes, tax management, estate planning, and lots of conversation to ensure that you are not only on the right track, but that you clearly understand the variables which will affect your success.
Will you help me with other relevant issues such as tax planning?
We work with clients on tax and legal matters all the time, but we are neither CPAs nor attorneys. Therefore, detailed legal and tax advice should be sought from other trained professionals. We routinely work with our clients’ other advisors, and are happy to engage as circumstances require.
How often will I be hearing from you?
This will depend on the complexity of your situation. Initial engagements for new clients tend to be very extensive, especially as we are learning about your entire financial situation, and you are learning about how we engage your concerns and problems. This process often takes several months or even longer. Once a course has been set, we will have at least one formal, annual review. In the interim, we work with you as often as you need to engage with us, and try to keep you up to date on changes in investment strategy, tax planning, estate considerations, philanthropic giving and general shifts in the financial environment.
Do you act as a fiduciary?
We do act as a fiduciary in our advisory relationships.
What type of investments do you recommend to clients?
We invest our clients’ funds primarily in publicly traded equities and fixed income, primarily using mutual funds. We seek to keep the total level of costs as low as is reasonably possible so that fees for those investments have a limited effect on long-term growth.
What is your investment philosophy?
We believe that asset growth is a long term process of saving and investing, harnessing the upward trajectory of markets in accordance with your tolerance of risk and the necessities implicit in your financial plan. We invest our clients’ funds in broadly diversified portfolios of equity (stock funds) and fixed income (bond funds), consistent with their plans. While markets do not appreciate in a straight line, we work to ensure that our clients understand the sometimes random nature of markets in the short term, and we strive to keep their focus on the long term objectives and outcomes.
How much do you charge? What is your fee?
As a general rule, we are paid an annual percentage on the assets that we manage for you, assessed on a quarterly basis. We will make this information available to you when we meet. Some circumstances require different treatment, and we work with clients to ensure a fair and transparent compensation process.
Personal Finance and Financial Planning:
How do I make my money grow over time?
Short of being lucky enough to inherit money, saving a part of what you earn is the most basic way to see your money grow. Investing those savings in a variety of investment vehicles such as real estate, private or public businesses, and fixed income investments such as bonds or bank deposits, all will help you to grow the funds you have saved. Each investment has a different risk level, and your investment process needs to comport with the level of risk you can be comfortable with so that you will adhere to your plan over long stretches of time. We will address these issues with you in our initial meetings, and return to them frequently over time.
Should we pay off our debt?
The answer to this question depends on your circumstances. Some types of debt, such as business loans, loans for education, or loans against real estate, may be prudent in moderation for long term growth of your personal and investment capital. Other loans, such as consumer loans, do not result in asset growth, and should be short-term and rare. Some types of debt are more tax advantaged than others. We can discuss your debt situation as part of our planning discussions.
I do not want to outlive my money, how shall I plan?
- Be conscious of your spending patterns.
- While income is important, saving from that income is more important. High savings disciplines often have the best outcomes. These patterns will vary depending on your stage of life.
- Invest according to your tolerance for risk, but understand that investing, unlike mere savings, will occasionally lead to volatile swings in prices. Be aware of the long-term trends in markets so that you will be better able to live with those volatile times.
- Be flexible; sometimes life will require that you take courses that you might not have considered, to achieve your goals. We can help you think through this process.
I have never worked with a financial planner before, what questions should I have?
The plan is our basic guidepost to how we will invest and how we will advise you on future actions. Therefore, one of your best questions for us when considering a financial decision is what is the long-term effect it will have on your plan. You may also be interested in how we arrive at our assumptions about future returns, how we view inflation, what our expectations are for Social Security and pension income, and what are advisable spending rates for our accumulated assets in retirement. An understanding of how the planning process works will help in accepting the occasional variances from the plans assumptions, and, most important, will allow for thoughtful exchanges between you and us regarding how to think about financial processes for successful outcomes.
How frequently will we be looking at my financial plan to update or recalculate?
Each client has different needs. Some plans need to be updated more frequently than others, as life circumstances and changes occur with greater velocity. There is no one standard. We review plans at least once a year, and often more frequently if clients need to consider options beyond the scope of the most recent plan. We strive to be available and responsive as changing circumstances warrant.