- Are you a fiduciary?
- Yes. A fiduciary is a person or institution given the power to act on behalf of another in situations that require great loyalty, honesty, and trust. Fiduciaries you may already be familiar with include physicians, accountants and attorneys. In the investment advice industry, fee-only financial planners are also fiduciaries. These individuals are hired to act in your best interest and must set aside their own personal motives in favor of your goals.
Many firms, and virtually all of the major ‘big-name’ firms, are ‘dually registered’ as investment brokers as well as Registered Investment Advisors. This allows them to act as a fiduciary in the financial planning process, thus the fiduciary ‘standard’, while adopting a “suitability” standard when it comes to investment selection. Under the “suitability” standard, an investment can be recommended even if it’s more expensive and pays a higher commission as long as it’s considered “suitable” for the client. A fiduciary has no such luxury.
I believe it is in the best interest of investors to work with a financial advisor who ALWAYS acts as a fiduciary. I am a fiduciary – this is fundamental and I would not have it any other way.
- What do you specialize in?
- I specialize in planning for retirement and creating income in retirement. This is a very specialized field and one that takes a lot of time. I have put in place the key experts, technology, and processes to help my clients retire with the confidence they need.
That being said, retirement is a lot more than just generating income. The best retirement plans take a comprehensive approach to life goals in addition to financial goals. As such, I integrate comprehensive planning to make sure I cover all areas of your finances, not just the investments.
- How often do I receive statements and reports?
- The custodians I use, Charles Schwab, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, send monthly statements to all clients for all accounts. These statements show account balances, trades, cash flows, and unrealized gains. Statements are available in paper as well as through email.
In addition, I send a detailed performance report each quarter clearly showing how your investments are performing and the fees that paid.
Safekeeping of Your Assets
- What steps do you take to insure the safekeeping of my assets?
- The safekeeping of your assets is of utmost importance to me. Accordingly, I have created a system of checks and balances to ensure the highest levels of security.
First, I never take custody of your money. All accounts are maintained in your name with leading financial service firms, such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, or TD Ameritrade, who act as custodians of your assets.
Second, monthly account statements are delivered directly to you from Fidelity, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade and you receive a confirmation statement anytime activity occurs in your account. Third, you enjoy access to your accounts through Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade websites and storefronts.
- Are my accounts protected from theft, fraud, insolvency, errors and omissions?
- I never take custody of my client’s assets. Whenever you write a check for deposit to your account, it should be made out to the custodian, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, or TD Ameritrade. These custodians also have SIPC insurance, which protect investors against fraud.
On a personal note, I keep my and my families personal investments at Charles Schwab and most of our clients choose Charles Schwab due to their great reputation and size. I also carries errors and omissions insurance.
- How is my privacy protected?
- Your privacy is of utmost importance to me. I comply with all privacy laws affecting financial institutions. Each year, my clients receive our Privacy Statement that outlines this responsibility in detail. Those standards are reviewed regularly to ensure they cover all forms of communication. I will not release any information to any person who is not directly named on your account unless I have your permission to do so, with the exception of legal and regulatory authorities.
- Does you have access to my money?
- Your assets are held in custody in your name at Charles Schwab, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade. I am never in custody of any of your assets. Instead, I am granted limited power of attorney to do three things in your account: (1) trade securities in accordance with your Investment Policy Statement; (2) request that Schwab/Fidelity/TD Ameritrade send a check to a client directly or to a client’s bank; and, (3) be paid a quarterly management fee from the account based on our Investment Advisory Agreement. I have no other access or authority.
Planning and Investments
- What is a financial plan and why do I need one?
- I believe that an investor’s money should never be managed without first looking at all aspects of their financial lives. Financial planning can provide a tremendous amount of relief and peace of mind. Similar to creating a blueprint prior to construction of a new home, a financial plan can provide clarity for the future and set proper expectations for what you can and cannot accomplish. A financial plan will also provide key action items you need to take to improve the probability of accomplishing your goals.
Your financial plan is a fluid document that I update as your life changes. I will regularly update your plan each time we meet with real time values and data. The tool I use tracks your account values and calculates the probability of achieving your financial goals 24/7.
- Do I need a financial plan if I only want you to manage my money?
- Yes. Having a financial plan in place is crucial to your success. It is the guiding document that outlines your goals and the steps I will take to get you there. Without a plan, it is nearly impossible to manage your money effectively. Building and managing a portfolio without a plan would be like building a home without a blueprint. I offer a financial plan as part of my wealth management service and do not charge extra.
- What is the minimum account requirement for your services?
- I require $750,000 for investment management services. This minimum is waived for referrals from existing clients. This minimum is calculated by adding together all of your accounts that I manage.
- Do I lose control when you manage my assets?
- No. I have a Limited Power of Attorney that only authorizes me to make trades on your behalf and to withdraw my quarterly fee. You remain in total control of your assets with the flexibility to terminate our agreement at any time.
- Is my money liquid and accessible?
- Yes. After all, it is your money and I want you to have it when you need it. I do not utilize or recommend investments that contain any surrender fees or exit penalties of any kind. All of my recommended investments are 100% liquid and accessible.
- Do you invest in the same investments that you recommend to me?
- Yes. To do otherwise would be unprofessional, at best. I think I build some of the best diversified portfolios in the world; it only makes sense that I invest my own money the same way.
Think about it … does it really make sense for a financial advisor to recommend one thing to you and then invest their own money in something else? All elite financial advisors that I’ve ever met invest right alongside their clients. When their clients prosper, they prosper and if their clients suffer then they suffer. The best advisors “eat their own cooking.” To be clear, my personal wealth follows the same investment philosophy as my clients.