1. Please tell me about the financial planning process.
Financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important things:
(1) An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and
(2) a blueprint that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future.
We believe that the financial planning process consists of seven distinct steps (see Seven Steps for details on our unique financial planning process).
At the end of the day you should remember that financial planning is a process, not an event.
2. How do you create this blueprint?
First, we focus on your goals, objectives, priorities and values.
For example, the reduction of current and future income taxes may be one of your immediate goals, funding a quality education for your children and/or grandchildren may be an intermediate goal, and enjoying a secure financial future in your retirement years is likely to be one of your most important long-term goals.
You may already be on the road to meeting these objectives and simply need a new strategy, professional insight, or to fine-tune your plan OR you may just be starting out or somewhere in between. Whatever your unique situation may be, everyone needs a periodic assessment of where they are on the road to meeting their financial goals. That’s why we do an in-depth review of your current financial situation.
Next, you need to know how you can set about achieving (or continue working toward) your financial goals.
By focusing on cash flow, investments, taxes, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues, savings opportunities and other general financial matters, we design a customized financial plan for you.
Finally, to achieve the intended results, you must implement and monitor your plan.
3. Sounds like a lot of work...is it?
We try to make the process as easy as possible for you - It may seem a bit hard at first, but the good news is, if you follow your plan and maintain a disciplined approach, you can rest well knowing you can reach your stated goals.
In addition to receiving professional advice on your most important financial concerns, we can also provide additional education regarding the implementation process, if appropriate for your needs.
4. Who can benefit most from your services?
Any individual seeking financial peace of mind can benefit from our services.
We serve people at all income levels, from all walks of life. Clients have the flexibility to work with us on either a one-time only, as-needed basis or an ongoing basis.
5. What is Fee-Only financial planning and why should that be important to me?
Since we are Fee-Only financial planners:
- Conflicts of interest regarding compensation are reduced
- We do not accept sales commissions; we work solely for our clients
- We do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, so there are no third-party relationships or outside influences to color our thinking and financial recommendations
For more information on Fee-Only financial planning, including our Code of Ethics, Fiduciary Code and member requirements, please visit www.napfa.org.
One important question you should always ask when considering a financial planner’s services: May I please have a copy of your ADV Part II? This document contains important information about the planner’s qualifications, fiduciary duties, history of any past violations, etc. Financial Bridges will be happy to send you a copy of the ADV Part II.
6. I understand the benefits of working with a Fee-Only financial planner, but I might need to obtain financial products. How will I be able to do that?
While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations and opinions regarding the purchase of the various financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy or a new mortgage, invest into a portfolio of mutual funds, or find an estate planning attorney or tax professional, we can direct you to the resources you need and/or help you obtain these products and services.
7. Does Financial Bridges provide only comprehensive financial planning?
No. Although a comprehensive financial plan can provide the greatest benefits, we can limit our advisory services to your specific needs, such as cash management and budgeting, investment analysis or college education funding.
8. My spouse and I are just beginning to build for our financial future. There is so much to learn! We need help and guidance to get started. Will you accept us as clients?
Yes. Some firms have income levels and/or net worth minimums but Financial Bridges realizes that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels, and all walks of life. Remember, "You don't have to have a fortune to start building one."
9. I have already accumulated substantial assets and think I am doing quite well. But as I progress and build for the future, things seem to be getting more complicated. I want to be sure I am on track, but I don’t always have the time or inclination to manage the myriad details by myself. Can you help me?
Yes. People who need more sophisticated financial planning or advice will find our services appealing and beneficial. If you are looking for a professional review or a second opinion to ensure you are on track, we can provide that.
10. What types of securities do you provide advice for?
We provide advice for many types of securities, including:
- Mutual funds
- Stocks (as they relate to your portfolio holdings)
- Bank deposits
- And variable and fixed annuities.
We also provide advice on mortgages, budgeting and cash flow issues, 401(k), 403(b) and other retirement programs, stock options, life and disability insurance, etc.
If it has to do with money and finances, we can provide counseling, guidance and/or resources for you. Clients are encouraged to call us when they have a major life event, such as a new job, a baby, a marriage or divorce, or if they are planning to buy a new home or start their own business.
11. If I use Financial Bridges to develop a financial plan, am I obligated to purchase the recommended products?
Absolutely not. We will offer recommendations which in our professional opinion will meet your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to purchase them.
12. Tell me about your investment philosophy.
We believe in the following fundamental principles with regard to designing an investment portfolio and making specific recommendations:
- The purpose of a client’s investment portfolio is to fund current and/or future financial objectives.
- The design of the portfolio must take into account the client’s financial objectives, tolerance for risk, needs for current income or liquidity, and special considerations such as income and estate taxes.
- No one can predict the future.
- It is difference of opinion that makes a market. Investment and economic experts provided with the same information often come to different conclusions.
- We do not suggest that we can, or that any of the money or mutual fund managers that we recommend will, make the correct decision every time. We do believe, however, that studying the historic trends and relationships of investment classes and the philosophies and approaches of successful investment managers can provide valuable insight.
- We believe that having a diversified, well-balanced portfolio, following long-term buy-and-hold strategies, and having patience, will increase the likelihood that one will achieve their long-term financial objectives.
13. How do you select investments for recommendation to a client?
Before we recommend any investment, we consider the current economic conditions, the outlook for that asset class or type of security and how this investment fits within your portfolio given your objectives and tolerance for risk.
- For equity investments, we focus primarily on the philosophies, experience and track record of the management team while gravitating towards passive investments or index funds.
- With fixed income investments, we look for the best yield available for a given quality of security. As fiduciaries for our clients, we strive to recommend the most appropriate investment vehicles to meet your objectives, while being very conscious of total expenses and risk exposure.
14. How do you price your financial planning services?
The fees are based on the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations. An estimate of fees will be provided at the end of the Get Acquainted Meeting, when your needs have been fully identified.
15. How much will my financial plan cost?
Financial planning fees are determined on a project basis; the total fee for a financial plan will vary from client to client based on the specific needs and complexity of your situation (please see Seven Steps to learn about our financial planning sequence).
An estimate is provided after the Get Acquainted Meeting, when your personal needs are fully identified.
16. Are your fees tax deductible?
Yes. Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A. It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return.
17. Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end?
While the actual engagement of services may end, many of our clients choose some sort of Continuing Client Program. Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we offer ongoing services, periodic reviews and day-to-day consultation as requested and/or needed.
18. How can I get started
a) If I have cash flow/debt management issues or "simple questions"?
The first step may be an "On-the-Spot" Advice Session. Contact us for more details.
b) If I have questions relating to retirement, investments, stock options, tax planning or preparation, or just want a second opinion?
1) Complete the confidential questionnaire.
2) Contact us to schedule a free Get Acquainted session, either via phone or in the office.
*Appointments are scheduled based on availability during regular business hours of 10-5, Monday through Friday. Expanded office hours are available to accommodate special needs or emergency situations.
Should you decide to engage the services of Financial Bridges, we will discuss which of our services is appropriate for you.