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What is a Registered Investment Advisor?

A Registered Investment Advisor is a firm that’s regulated by their state or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Investment Advisors’ Act of 1940. Among other requirements, this law compels the firm and its representatives to always act in the best interest of the client. The vast majority of financial advisors, including traditional broker/dealers, are not held to this fiduciary standard when investing on behalf of their clients.

What is a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is someone who has a legal duty to act solely in another party’s best interest. Fiduciaries may not profit from their relationship with a client unless they have the client’s express informed consent, and they have a duty to avoid conflicts of interest between themselves and their clients. A fiduciary duty is the strictest standard of care recognized by the U.S. legal system.

What is your approach to financial planning?

We believe strongly that financial planning and investment advisory services are closely linked, which means without preparing a financial plan, we can not know how a client’s investments should be managed. Our planning approach typically follows a three-phase schedule. Phase one is to review the scope of the planning process and gather data on the client’s financial situation and goals. In phase two, we review a draft financial plan, identify any planning gaps and discuss how to close them. The outcome of this phase is an action plan and steps for implementation. Phase three consists of a review of the action plan and development of investing and risk management strategies to support the financial plan.

What is your philosophy on investing?

Our investing strategies are evidence-based, which means that we focus on broad diversification and a tailored asset allocation strategy that fits your individual goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk. We believe it is impossible to consistently predict short-term movements in the stock market or the economy; therefore we do not utilize market timing or short-term trading strategies. We believe that the most effective ways to improve portfolio performance are to reduce commissions, fees and other investing expenses, and to effectively manage income taxes.

Do you have a minimum account size?

No, we do not require clients to have a minimum amount of assets to invest. Our minimum fee for the development of a financial plan, which covers a 12-month period, is $500.

Do you receive commissions from brokerages or mutual fund managers?

No, we do not receive compensation or incentives from any third parties. Our relationship is exclusively with our clients and we receive compensation only from them.

What are your fees and how are they paid?

Financial planning fees are estimated prior to the start of any engagement based on a number of criteria. There are no minimum asset requirements and the minimum fee for a financial plan is $500. When investment assets are subsequently managed, fees for investment advisory services are typically based upon a percentage of the net asset value of a client’s portfolio.

How often will we meet to discuss my financial plan?

We recommend meeting at least once per year to update your current financial situation, review your financial plan and consider any adjustments. We urge clients to inform us immediately of any significant change in their financial situation and are more than willing to meet at a client’s request to discuss how those changes might impact their financial plan.

Can you advise me on my other investments as well, like my 401(k)?

Absolutely. In fact, we prefer to see the whole picture so that strategies and recommendations can be applied consistently across all of your invested assets.

Do you take custody of my assets?

We do not take custody of client assets. We provide trading and custodial services through our affiliation with TD Ameritrade Institutional. If funds or securities are sent to us inadvertently, we will return them promptly to the sender. Use of an independent custodian provides the client with additional security and control over their invested assets. Although clients can allow us to trade on their behalf, we do not have access to the funds at any time.

If I’m transferring my account from another firm, do I need to sell everything first?

No, in most cases we can transfer assets over just as they are. We take care of the transfer process so you do not need to contact your existing broker. In cases where the assets are not publicly traded or are proprietary to the existing broker, we may have to liquidate before transferring funds. We will work to minimize any tax consequences in these instances.

What separates your firm from other financial advisors?

We differ from brokerage firms and insurance agencies in a number of ways, but the most important of these is in our relationship with the client. We are among a small minority of financial advisors that pledge to put our clients’ best interest first in everything we do, including the management of their investments.This ensures that they receive objective, unbiased advice in a conflict-free environment.