Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a financial plan necessary?
We believe all of our clients should go through the rigor of the financial planning process. A financial plan establishes our clients’ goals and priorities and provides a road map to help them get there. Many of our clients tell us that the first time they had focused and meaningful conversations regarding their finances was at our table. For many, money isn’t something they are comfortable talking about; for others, it is a source of stress in their relationship. Some clients are quite knowledgeable about their finances yet seek out a professional opinion; others worry they know too little and want to be educated in a nonjudgmental setting. Our goal is to put a plan in place so it is easier to make financial decisions, stay on track, and reduce anxiety.
What does a comprehensive financial plan entail?
We work with clients in two distinct phases: financial planning and investment management. Our planning process typically involves three two-hour meetings. At the first meeting, the focus is on establishing a relationship, helping clients understand who we are and how we work. We do a lot of listening to provide clients with an opportunity to express their hopes and concerns. Time permitting, we begin fact-gathering, following up with an open-items list, as needed.
The second meeting is dedicated to introducing clients to the initial plan, utilizing online, sophisticated, and time-tested planning tools. We review all of the facts in detail to be sure we have a full picture of our client’s financial universe. At this meeting, we often discuss various what-if scenarios and highlight possible challenges and opportunities.
The third meeting is focused on specific planning recommendations as well as an in-depth review of investments. At the conclusion of the meeting, we discuss moving into the second phase, a long-term investment management relationship. This is a mutual decision, as we want to be certain that it is the right fit for both parties.
Our years of experience have shown that onetime planning is not enough. True value comes from a long-term relationship with an advisor who plays both the role of planner and investment manager.
What is your approach to investment management?
As independent financial advisors, we can offer our clients a wide range of investment options. Our philosophy is to position portfolios to get the job done without assuming more market risk than necessary. For many of our clients, we work with mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), believing strongly in diversification. We have access to third-party managers for specialized portfolios, such as tax-advantaged, income-oriented, stock sector, and socially responsible (impact investing) portfolios.
Education is a cornerstone of our practice. We spend as much time as needed to help our clients understand what they own and why. We meet with clients regularly. At each review meeting, we’ll update the financial plan at no additional cost, using it as a guide to help us make informed investment recommendations.
What do you charge for services?
The initial financial plan ranges in cost from $1,800 to $2,500. Many plans centered on one household fall on the lower end of the range; however, we also deal with more complex planning situations that involve trust arrangements, business interests, and sophisticated tax matters.
We work on a fee basis, meaning that advisory fees are applied as a percentage of only the assets under our management. Our compensation is directly tied to portfolio performance, so our goal aligns with our clients, which is to see assets grow over time. We believe in transparency and review fees annually. Advisory fees are assessed on a sliding scale based on total assets under management. Annual fees start at 1.25% and down to 1.00% for accounts of $1.5 million and above. For assets of $2 million and above, they are negotiated.
Who do you work with?
We work with individuals and families who are ready to map out a financial future. Often, the initial outreach is due to a transitional event, such as impending retirement, inheritance, or change in career or marital status. Our clients are engaged community members ready to commit time and energy to the process of developing a comprehensive financial plan. Many of our clients are academics, medical professionals, nonprofit leaders, artists, writers, and business owners. Each financial plan is created to meet their distinct needs, as no two households are alike.
Are you accepting new clients and do you have an investment minimum?
We continue to welcome new clients. To ensure that we are never stretched too thin at the expense of existing relationships, we require a starting investment amount of $500,000.