How do I know if I need an adviser?

Truthfully, not everyone does. But do you have the time, education and discipline required?

Most people need guidance as life events cause our finances to evolve over time. Successful financial planning and investment management require time, knowledge and discipline. You must know how to align your investment approach with your financial goals. A quality adviser will provide expertise for your specific needs, an investment strategy that bridges your plan with your savings and proactive recommendations to ensure you are carrying out your plan as intended.


Is there an ideal account type/size you manage?

401k rollover accounts exceeding $50,000. But let us expand...

We seek to serve clients we can truly help and who embrace our approach to planning and investing, so it is less about account size and more about overall fit. Clients who meet our $25,000 investment minimum receive financial planning at no additional cost. It does not make sense to hire an investment manager below a certain dollar threshold, after adding up costs like management and trade fees.

401k-to-IRA rollovers are ideal given the long-term nature, the ability to consolidate accounts and the superiority IRAs hold over most 401k plans. Our typical client engages us when they either change jobs or retire - events that permit a 401k rollover.


What is a Registered Investment Adviser? Why should I care?

Suppose you try on 2 shirts. The first one fits you, while the second one fits you and looks good on you. Which do you buy?

A Registered Investment Adviser firm ("RIA") recommends and manages investments for clients. The main difference between a RIA and a non-RIA is that RIA firms are held to a fiduciary standard. This requires giving advice that not only fits your situation, but is best for your situation (hence the shirt analogy). Non-RIA firms must only show that the advice given is suitable, not necessarily the best for you (legislation may change this). This does not imply that RIAs are inherently better, yet it does suggest knowing whether your adviser has your best interests at heart. Areas to exploit this include the range of services you receive, how your adviser chooses investments and the all-in costs you pay.


Which credentials should my adviser have?

We are partial to certain credentials, namely the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations. Not merely because we possess these within our team, but because we truly believe these are the top credentials within their respective disciplines. However, all knowledge must be sharpened over time. There are smart advisers who possess few credentials. There are others who have many but who have not honed their skills. So while credentials matter, there is no definitive answer.


What do you charge?

Our fee is 1.25% annually, based on account size (drops to 1.00% for clients who invest more than $1 million).

  • What you see is what you pay. This fee is the only compensation we earn, as financial planning is provided at no additional cost. For financial planning-only clients, in lieu of our management fee we assess a fee of $75.00/hour for work performed.
  • How you pay. Fee is assessed monthly, in a pro-rated manner. Ex: (1.25%) / (12) x (month-end balance)
  • This means win-win. Fee fluctuates based on account value, so our incentive is to see your investments grow.
  • No commissions or performance fees. Some advisers earn commissions tied to the funds they recommend. We do not. We are cost-conscious, primarily investing in low-cost ETFs and individual stocks.
  • We reimburse trade costs. For clients who invest $100,000 or more. Trading costs are paid to our custodian (Scottrade).
  • Flat fee rate. If a client invests more than $1 million we reduce our fee on all funds managed, not just the account balance that exceeds $1 million.

What are your philosophies?

A few of our core beliefs...

Investing:

  • Focus on absolute returns. Your goals matter more than what an index earned or what someone else made.
  • Generate consistent returns. We prefer hitting singles and doubles to the combination of home runs and strikeouts.
  • Manage investment risk. Minimizing losses helps increase overall returns.
  • Avoid group-think. For example, contrary to popular opinion it is okay to own bonds at a younger age or heavily invest in stocks at retirement. It depends on your needs, market conditions and investment approach.

Financial Planning:

  • Ignore general advice. Ditch the herd. Get specific advice for your situation. Some information is helpful but a lot of it is simply veiled marketing or product sales masked as advice. Regardless, advice given to the masses offers limited value.
  • Prioritize. Bite off what you can chew. Rank your goals and knock off what you can handle.
  • Take action. Planning is pointless without behavior. Follow through on your plan. Be disciplined.
  • Find your fit. Hire an adviser you mesh with. You should enjoy talking to him/her, and about more than personal finance.
  • Find your niche. Hire an adviser who has expertise where you need it. A good adviser will honestly portray his/her strengths.