Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why should I work with you?

I have a genuine desire to help people achieve financial success. Working with me is not going to be the typical financial advisor experience. We will work together on every aspect of your financial life. 401k’s, college savings, debt management, and retirement planning are just a few examples of the issues that you face in life. My clients will become lifelong partners. We will continue to develop your plan together as life changes and your financial needs change with it. My CPA and tax background also gives me an advantage over other financial advisors. Taxes are one of the biggest factors in personal finances. I am able to incorporate tax planning into each aspect of your financial life. I am a fee-only planner who abides by the fiduciary standard. That means that I have a duty of utmost good faith to act solely in the best interests of each client.

What do you offer that I can’t do myself?

I strongly believe that personal finance doesn’t have to be complicated. That means that most people are able to handle their finances on their own. This is why I offer Q & A sessions for those who want to confirm their plans with a professional. However, I have found that most people do not want to bear this burden on their own. It can be extremely stressful to handle everything by yourself. Working with me will allow you to have an unrelated third party oversee every aspect of your financial picture. We will be able to construct a plan that sets you up for long term success. As things change in your life, we will be able to adapt and change the plan. Lastly, there is a level of comfort knowing that someone will be holding you accountable to reach your financial goals.

How do you get paid?

It’s simple! Foundations Financial Planning is a fee-only firm. I get paid only by you. I am not receiving commissions or fees from other companies for selling their services. The fees presented to you are the only fees that I receive. This means that any product that I recommend to you (insurance, mutual funds, etc.) is what I believe is the best option for your situation. My responsibility is to serve your needs, and I will not make money from any of my suggested products.

What areas of personal finance do you cover?

Our goal is to be the center of your financial life. All of the following services are covered in the Comprehensive Financial Planning package. We do not believe that your finances should be viewed as separate pieces. Each aspect impacts another area of your life. The following list shows you an example of the things we will cover together.

Business Planning: We provide consulting services for clients who currently operate their own business, are considering starting a business, or are planning for an exit from their current business. Under this type of engagement, we work with you to assess your current situation, identify your objectives, and develop a plan aimed at achieving your goals.

Cash Flow and Debt Management: We will conduct a review of your income and expenses to determine your current surplus or deficit along with advice on prioritizing how any surplus should be used or how to reduce expenses if they exceed your income. Advice may also be provided on which debts to pay off first based on factors such as the interest rate of the debt and any income tax ramifications. We may also recommend what we believe to be an appropriate cash reserve that should be considered for emergencies and other financial goals, along with a review of accounts (such as money market funds) for such reserves, plus strategies to save desired amounts.

College Savings: Includes projecting the amount that will be needed to achieve college or other post-secondary education funding goals, along with advice on ways for you to save the desired amount. Recommendations as to savings strategies are included, and, if needed, we will review your financial picture as it relates to eligibility for financial aid or the best way to contribute to grandchildren (if appropriate).

Employee Benefits Optimization: We will conduct a review and analysis as to whether you, as an employee, are taking the maximum advantage possible of your employee benefits. If you are a business owner, we will consider and/or recommend the various benefit programs that can be structured to meet both business and personal retirement goals.

Estate Planning: This usually includes an analysis of your exposure to estate taxes and your current estate plan, which may include whether you have a will, powers of attorney, trusts and other related documents. Our advice also typically includes ways for you to minimize or avoid future estate taxes by implementing appropriate estate planning strategies such as the use of applicable trusts.

We always recommend that you consult with a qualified attorney when you initiate, update, or complete estate planning activities. We may provide you with contact information for attorneys who specialize in estate planning when you wish to hire an attorney for such purposes. From time-to-time, we will participate in meetings or phone calls between you and your attorney with your approval or request.

Financial Goals: We will help clients identify financial goals and develop a plan to reach them. We will identify what you plan to accomplish, what resources you will need to make it happen, how much time you will need to reach the goal, and how much you should budget for your goal.

Insurance: Review of existing policies to ensure proper coverage for life, health, disability, long-term care, liability, home and automobile.

Investment Analysis: This may involve developing an asset allocation strategy to meet clients’ financial goals and risk tolerance, providing information on investment vehicles and strategies, reviewing employee stock options, as well as assisting you in establishing your own investment account at a selected broker/dealer or custodian. The strategies and types of investments we may recommend are further discussed in Item 8 of this brochure.

Retirement Planning: Our retirement planning services typically include projections of your likelihood of achieving your financial goals, typically focusing on financial independence as the primary objective. For situations where projections show less than the desired results, we may make recommendations, including those that may impact the original projections by adjusting certain variables (e.g., working longer, saving more, spending less, taking more risk with investments).

Risk Management: A risk management review includes an analysis of your exposure to major risks that could have a significant adverse impact on your financial picture, such as premature death, disability, property and casualty losses, or the need for long‐term care planning. Advice may be provided on ways to minimize such risks and about weighing the costs of purchasing insurance versus the benefits of doing so and, likewise, the potential cost of not purchasing insurance (“self‐insuring”).

Tax Planning Strategies: Advice may include ways to minimize current and future income taxes as a part of your overall financial planning picture. For example, we may make recommendations on which type of account(s) or specific investments should be owned based in part on their “tax efficiency,” with consideration that there is always a possibility of future changes to federal, state or local tax laws and rates that may impact your situation.

I don’t live in your area, can we still work together?

Of course! I work with people all over the country. As long as you have access to the internet, we can work together. I offer the virtual meetings for two reasons. One, this offers me the ability to work with people anywhere in the country. Two, it saves time for everyone. Virtual meetings allow us to find more time to meet together without travelling.

What happens if I decide to cancel my ongoing relationship?

You can cancel the relationship at any time. My services are charged “in arrears” which means after the service is provided. You won’t have to worry about getting reimbursed for services you paid for but didn’t receive.

What are your asset minimums?

There are no asset minimums for investing clients. I do not require my clients to acquire a certain level of investible assets for them to work with me. This is one area that differentiates me from most investment advisors. It doesn’t make sense to tell people that they need to save $100,000 or more before I can help them with financial advice.

What steps do you take to protect my sensitive information?

We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to protect our clients’ nonpublic personal information. We respect and value that you have entrusted us with your private financial information, and we will work diligently to maintain that trust.