Frequently Asked Questions
Fee-only is a subtle but very important designation of how a financial advisor is compensated. A fee-only fiduciary financial advisor is legally bound to act at all times for the sole benefit and interest of our clients. This is the highest standard of loyalty, trust and care under the law. As a fee-only firm, we receive payment only for our advisory services in the form of fees paid by our clients. A fee-only structure reduces potential conflicts of interest. In contrast, a fee-based financial advisor is paid by clients for advisory services and may also receive referral fees or commissions from third-parties to recommend certain financial products and securities.
Unlike tax preparers who can help with tax filing and deductions during tax season, we are monitor the impact of taxes on a client’s portfolio all year-round. Because taxes and investments go hand-in-hand, we can assist clients with strategies at every life stage to help reduce their tax liability and stay on track to achieve their financial goals. We consider things like the timing of your income and large purchases, future expenses, and the types of investments or retirement plans that you have when developing strategies for your particular situation.
While you are still working, your tax planning strategy may include investing in a tax-deferred retirement plan that reduces your taxable income. This can be effective if you have a high income now, but anticipate potentially being in a lower tax bracket in retirement. Another option for high-income earners is a “backdoor” Roth IRA in which you first contribute to a traditional IRA and then convert that portion to a Roth IRA. This allows you to bypass IRS income limits and grow the converted assets tax free. However, income tax will be due in the year of the conversion as well as on any investment gains. Be sure to consult with your financial planner or tax preparer about your unique situation before implementing any changes.
When you begin retirement and withdraw your assets, tax planning is also important to ensure that you stay in a beneficial tax bracket and optimize your Medicare and Social Security benefits. To help minimize taxes, we consider which accounts you should withdraw from first (taxable, tax-deferred, tax-exempt), the impact of receiving Social Security Benefits, or possibly recommend a transfer of your required minimum distributions (RMDs) to your favorite charitable organization (subject to IRS limitations).
Once you are fully retired, we consider adjusting your investment strategy to minimize taxes, reduce risk, and help maximize your savings. If you have underperforming investments, we can help with tax-loss harvesting, which is a tactic used to help offset any capital gains as you rebalance your portfolio.
We work also closely with estate planning attorneys to help our clients structure tax-favorable wealth transfer strategies, with the goal of leaving more assets to their children or a charitable organization.
We like our clients to think of us as their thought partner. While the initial financial plan will provide you with a roadmap, it is only good for a moment in time, as life naturally changes. As someone who now understands your entire financial universe, we can effectively collaborate or validate a choice that will impact your finances. Almost every money decision will have a tax implication, and oftentimes there are alternative strategies that you may not be familiar with that would be more optimal to help you achieve your goals.
We will meet in-person or remotely twice per year to go through all aspects of your financial plan (cash flow, retirement income planning, tax planning, etc.) We offer continuous, ongoing advice regarding your financial affairs, including advice on non-investment related financial issues. Because we intentionally maintain a small number of clients, we are very accessible and responsive when you have a question or need ad hoc financial advice. We find our clients benefit from multiple touch points throughout the year rather than meeting once annually.
We offer several options including a flat fee for developing a comprehensive financial plan, subscription model pricing, hourly, a percentage of the assets that we manage on your behalf or provide oversight for held-away assets, or a combination of these. Our services include one-time projects and ongoing engagements that serve your individual needs.There is no obligation for us to manage your investments. And there are no hidden sales charges. The fees are fully transparent and will be determined after our introductory meeting, of which there is no charge. We charge you on a quarterly basis. Learn more here.
If you are a recipient of significant wealth, experiencing a major loss or a major life event like death or divorce, it may be time to seek financial advice. Some additional events may include:
- I have managed my investments but have accumulated a lot and do not want to make mistakes that will mess up my future.
- I am nearing retirement and want to ensure that I am on the right track.
- I just inherited money and want advice on how best to manage it.
- I was recently married and need guidance managing our finances as a couple.
- I was recently divorced or widowed, and I am unsure how best to move forward financially.
- My mom and dad are getting older, and I need help managing their overall finances.
- I previously worked with a financial advisor and I am frustrated by their lack of responsiveness and limited knowledge beyond investing.
No. There is no obligation for us to manage your assets. We provide one-time, hourly and ongoing engagements that serve your individual needs. We will work together to determine a fee structure that is mutually beneficial.
Many people that do this work have varying degrees of education and some are focused on insurance while others on investments. Even more important, not all advisors are held to the same standards. If they receive commissions or financial incentives for recommending certain financial products, this can create bias when being offered advice. Here are some helpful tips on how to find a financial advisor.
What is the difference between a Wealth Manager, Financial Advisor, Investment Advisor, Financial Planner, etc.?
While there are some restrictions on who can call themselves an advisor, it is usually best to set the individual’s title aside and instead, focus on the other aspects, like shared values, services, firm structure, education, personality fit, and fees.
A comprehensive financial plan can help when making big decisions that will impact your finances.
- When can I retire?
- Should I use a windfall to pay off my mortgage early?
- How much do I need to save to retire so I can maintain my lifestyle?
Developing a financial plan can help you evaluate each of your goals as well as compare alternatives. This process takes into consideration tax implications and prioritizing the funding of one goal over another. It is also beneficial to stress-test your plan to help ensure you do not run out of money.
If you are not working with a Financial Planner, you may not be asking yourself all the right questions as well as ensuring you have not overlooked anything.
Yes. We work locally with clients in Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound and Sewall’s Point as well as nationwide. Our services include one-time, hourly and ongoing engagements that serve your individual needs.