FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(We love working with analytical clients -- engineers in particular -- partly because they ask the best questions. Here are some of our favorites.)
"What makes you different from other fee-only financial advisors?"
We're built from the ground up to work with tech professionals. Got issues related to retirement planning, 401(k)'s, IRA's, FSA's, HSA's, HDHP's, ESPP's, RSU's, ISO's, 529's, and other related acronyms? That's where we live.
But it's not just about our expertise:
Tech professionals only want to pay for what they use, so we offer customized services.
They insist on modern technology, so we use the latest (proven) financial tech.
They're analytical, so we go deep into planning and investing theory.
They like to maintain control, and to course correct over time. You're the captain, we're the navigator.
They (rightfully!) demand transparency, so we lay our cards on the table. For example, our pricing is readily available on our website
And they're often nerdy. We are, too.
(Of course, tech professionals don't have a monopoly on any of those traits, so we serve plenty of non-tech clients, as well!)
"You work in finance. Why should I trust you?"
You're right to distrust. The financial services industry is full of beautiful, charming, fast-talking salespeople who are very good at separating you from your hard-won cash.
(Sadly, we don't have any of those.)
But this is, in fact, the very reason why this firm was built to be radically transparent from the ground up:
As a registered investment advisor, we have a fiduciary obligation to you. That means we are required by law to act in your best interest at all times.
As fee-only financial planners, we accept no commissions, from anyone, ever.
We explain the rationale behind every action we take, and insist on educating our clients in our approach to investing and personal finance. We believe strongly in "trust, but verify".
"How are you going to make me money?"
In a comprehensive financial plan, we'll do the following:
Create an adaptive financial plan that uses statistical analysis to determine the best way to meet your goals. (How much should you save? Where should you put it? How much risk should you take in my investments? Can you retire early? Take an extra vacation?)
Iterate on this plan until you're satisfied that you're neither leaving money on the table (being too conservative), nor taking unnecessary risk (being too aggressive).
Using this plan, design an investment portfolio via empirically proven, Nobel prize-winning academic research that increases your odds of outperforming the market over time. (It sounds like sales fluff, but we're serious -- and we "eat our own cooking".)
Further improve your returns by reducing the tax burden on your portfolio, via tax-efficient asset location and tax-loss harvesting.
Engage in proactive tax planning. Rather than just looking for deduction opportunities when you file your taxes -- which greatly limits your options -- we plan for opportunities to save taxes next year (and beyond).
And those are just the highlights!
"How large an investment portfolio do I need to have in order to work with you?"
There's no "minimum asset level" for comprehensive financial planning; it's just a flat fee. And if we're doing comprehensive financial planning for you, there's no minimum for investment management, either. Check out our Services page for more info.
"How much time is this going to take?"
As your fiduciary, we're going to take the time to do things right. That said, we know how valuable your time is.
You'll probably end up spending 4-6 hours in meetings with us in the course of creating an initial financial plan. We can meet via videoconference or in a place convenient to you, so you don't have to drive far (if at all), and we'll always pay for the food or coffee. (Old engineer habit: every meeting is better with food or drink.)
"How about time outside of meetings, like finding documents?"
We understand just how painful this can be, so we strive to make things as painless as possible on this front, as well.
We use account aggregation software that automatically links to your banks and investment custodians, so you shouldn't have to worry about those.
Other than that. we will need electronic copies of some documents like a recent pay stub, tax return, and social security statements. If you're worried about being able to find those, don't worry -- in our data-gathering session, we can organize paperwork and/or make the appropriate phone calls to get what we need.
"Where's your form ADV brochure?"
I'm glad you asked -- everyone should always ask a prospective financial advisor for their form ADV brochure. You can download ours here, or use the SEC's website here.
"What if I change my mind about working with you?"
If you decide partway through the planning process that we're not for you, then (a) we haven't done our job, and (b) that's not your fault, so you shouldn't have to pay.
In the case of comprehensive financial planning, you can cancel anytime in the next 30 days for a full refund.
"Do you do pro bono work?"
I do. A Discovery Session is always free, and some clients find that it's enough to point them in the right direction; otherwise, I keep space open for the pro bono equivalent of Office Hours.
"How do I get started?"
It's easy to get time on my calendar!
"Where can I learn more about you personally?"
Head on over to our About page!
Don't see your question? Submit it here!