Choosing a Financial Advisor: Top 10 Questions Asked and Answered for You!
When prospective clients contact our firm, there are a number of questions that are asked (or should be asked) about what makes us unique. Ultimately, why is it worth your time to schedule a time to visit?
We compiled our Top 10 Questions to help you quickly determine if we should continue the conversation.
Top 10 Questions
1.All the websites/advisors I have reviewed all look the same. Why should I talk with you? I know it sounds cliché, but we are different from almost all financial advisors. Areas that make us unique:
We get to know our clients. Our true “job” is to help clients determine what is really important. We then guide them on a path to achieve their most important goals in line with their true values.
Ultimately, I want our clients to having a fulfilling and happy retirement. We help put you on a path to get there.
We practice true comprehensive planning. Most firms give this lip service as a way to sell products.
We have taken a fiduciary oath. We are required to work in your best interests. Because we aren’t selling products, we are able to sit on the same side of the table with our clients.
We are a Fee Only firm – You will know exactly what our services will cost. You will never wonder why we are recommending a product or service. The only reason will be because we think it will be in your best interest.
2.What is “Fee-Only” financial planning and why should that be important to me? Because we are Fee-Only financial planners, all conflicts of interest regarding compensation are removed. We do not accept sales commissions; we work solely for our clients. Because we do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, there are no third-party relationships or outside influences to taint our thinking and financial recommendations.
In addition, our firm is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA); as such, we must comply with a host of regulations designed to protect the consumer.
3.Is it worth hiring a financial advisor to help me? The following two articles provide insight as to how we, as a fee only comprehensive planner, are worth the investment in financial planning.
4.What Type of people do you work with? Generally our clients are within 10 – 15 years of retirement or in retirement. We have a growing niche of high income families in their late 30’s and 40’s. See Who We Help for more details.
5.What financial areas can you help me cover? It is critical to think long term to put a plan together that makes sense to you and to ensure you are doing the right things to achieve your most important financial goal in line with your values. This is how we help. You might be worried about when you can retire? Are you on track to retire? Can I help my children? I have been saving all my life and now how do I live off my investments without running out? Our ongoing wealth management services helps in the following areas:
- Financial planning for your most important goals including retirement, college, etc.
- Career Coaching for job changes including the transition to retirement.
- Ongoing attention from a Certified Financial Planner™ who looks after the details of your plan.
- Proactive assistance with the paperwork, deadlines and administration necessary to keep your plan on track
- Updated plans that reflect substantial changes in your life or your financial situation
- Professional management and guidance of all your investment accounts, even your 401k, 403b and 529 plan
- Institutional-grade investments from leading fund families including Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA Funds) www.dfaus.com
- Cash Flow planning to determine savings programs and for enjoying retirement with a well thought out plan for spending.
- Tax Planning to reduce the impact of taxes and the creation of an annual tax packet to give to your tax preparer.
- Liability and Debt Planning to achieve goals for debt payoffs and put a plan in place that makes sense.
- Client Aging Planning to carry out your wishes for aging gracefully and for end of life.
- Client Loss Process to help a spouse make sure they are ok financially and guide them through the grieving process.
- Insurance Planning Yearly update of insurance needs, including assistance with “shopping” for coverage. Ultimately the “right” coverage for the premium dollars.
- Business Planning to review both personal and business plans to make sure you are taking advantage of all the opportunities.
- Estate Planning to identify your wishes for your family and then work with an attorney so the proper plan is in place and implemented.
- Gifting Strategies to transferring wealth to your heirs and/or fulfilling charitable goals.
6.What is your approach to financial planning? Financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important things: (1) An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and (2) a blueprint that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future. It is important to remember that financial planning is a process…not an event. The following infographic will give you a good overview of our process and how we help clients. We are unusual in that we look at all areas of our client’s finances to make sure their most important goals are achieved. We become true partners to help our clients achieve their most important goals. The 7 Most Important Financial Planning Questions
Do you have the qualifications and experience to help me? The simple answer is yes. Our qualifications:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Designation – Most people think all financial planners are “certified,” but this isn’t true. Anyone can use the title “financial planner.” Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP Board can display the CFP® certification trademarks which represent a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism. And because they are held to a fiduciary standard of care, a CFP® professional is required to act in your best interest.
- NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor Membership – National Association Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial planners
- Last year, started the two year process to become a Financial Transitionist®. A Financial Transitionist® is a professional with an established career in the financial services industry or outside of it, who recognizes the importance and the power of the personal side of money and the unique challenges of transitions. Financial Transitionists® have a rich and comprehensive understanding of how people subjectively experience change, and are able to co-create their highest outcomes with them.
- An independent firm that isn’t tied to selling you products.
- Developed processes to help clients through the aging process and for life’s major transitions like death, disability, retirement, job loss, career change, etc.
- Zero discipline incidents.
- Started in the profession in 1999 and experienced in helping people just like you.
8. Tell me about your investment philosophy. As financial planners and investment consultants, we believe in the following fundamental principles with regard to designing an investment portfolio and making specific recommendations: The purpose of a client’s investment portfolio is to fund current and/or future financial objectives. The design of the portfolio must take into account the client’s financial objectives, tolerance for risk, needs for current income or liquidity, and special considerations such as income and estate taxes. The important thing to remember is that no one can predict the future. It is a difference of opinion that makes a market. Investment and economic “experts” provided with the same information often come to different conclusions. We do not suggest that we can, or that any of the money or mutual fund managers that we recommend, will make the correct decision every time. We believe that having a diversified, well-balanced portfolio, following long-term buy-and-hold strategies, and having patience; will increase the likelihood that one will achieve their long-term financial objectives. For more: Investment Approach
9.Do you have a client portal where I can see my plan? Yes, we have a great user friendly client portal for our clients. Our clients find it is a comprehensive tool that allows seeing all their finances in one place. The client portal even has the ability to track spending and a secure document storage area that allows clients the ability to keep track of their most important documents. A short video: http://youtu.be/c4y8gR453O4
10. I have already accumulated substantial assets and think I am doing quite well. But as I progress and build for the future, things seem to be getting more complicated. I want to be sure I am on track, but I don’t always have the time or inclination to manage the myriad details by myself. Can you help me? Yes. People who need more sophisticated financial planning or advice will find our services appealing and beneficial. If you have a desire to simplify your financial affairs, our Ongoing Wealth Management Service may be right for you, we will discuss these options at your complimentary initial “discovery” meeting. If you are looking for a professional review or a second opinion to ensure you are on track, we can provide that too.
11. One More – How can I get started? The first step is to contact us to schedule your complimentary Discovery Meeting. Most clients find the financial planning process to be stimulating and enlightening. The end result, of course, is greater peace of mind. We look forward to helping YOU build a brighter financial future!
Are you ready to create a plan for living the life you’ve always dreamed about? Contact us today to schedule your complimentary discovery meeting.
Your Guide to Financial Independence
Rick Epple, CFP(r)