Do I Need A Financial Plan?
Do you feel unsettled when you consider a financial, career or personal decision that could impact your future? Have you recently experienced a life change and worried about how it will impact your future? Do you want assurance that you’re on the right path? Do you fear the ‘What If’? Assets or not, if any of those are the case, then a financial plan can help.
Aren’t Investment Management And Financial Planning The Same Thing?
No these are actually two very different elements of your financial situation that have gotten muddled together as firms in our industry have evolved over time. First the industry was all about investments. As the information became more readily available, firms began to turn their attention to answering some bigger questions in a client’s life and financial planning began to emerge. As financial lives became more complex with taxes, employer benefits, and complicated family needs, financial planning gained a firmer foothold, but many firms that were traditionally investments-only began to provide basic planning services as a value-add (I know, I worked for two of those firms), but they were ill-equipped to charge for the services they were providing or meet the demand for a broader and deeper scope of services.
Enter the CFP® professional. Those dedicated not just to improving returns, but to incorporating investments into a much larger, more complex total picture for clients. As client needs changed, the CFP® designation began to grow in popularity. CFP® professionals are permitted to charge for the advice they provide SEPARATE from any product or service sold. And given that a CFP® professional’s purpose to advise on a client’s TOTAL financial picture, that opened the door to providing advice on assets held at other firms such as 401(k)s or other employer plans, real estate, taxes and other areas considered ‘off limits’ for the traditional advisor which technically is restricted by industry regulations to providing investment advice ONLY on assets within their firm. And when you have a CFP® professional working within a Broker/Dealer structure where they can only be paid on products/services they sell, a quagmire evolves. By definition CFP® professionals serve as fiduciaries, legally bound to put their client’s best interests first, but serving as a fiduciary within a firm structure that only pays you to sell products creates an inherent conflict of interest. Do I feed my family or yours? The result at times was a creation of a financial planning recommendations that supports the purchase of products. I saw it happening all around me. For that reason, many advisors like myself, have left the Broker/Dealer world behind so we can work within a framework that puts the client at the center and gives us the flexibility to deliver on our fiduciary responsibility to our clients while being compensated for the VALUE we create in client’s lives.
Why Work With An Advisor vs. DIY?
One simple reason - it’s difficult to be unemotional about your own money. Even if you had the same licenses, certifications, and experience that we did, separating your knowledge from the emotion is tough. So working with a third party that respects your attachment to your money and the emotional aspects of how you spend it, but is removed enough to help you logically evaluate all options before making a decision can be the key to success.
We also know how to automate regular decisions to help keep you on the right track. Kind of a ‘set it and forget it’. By automating common decisions like deposits, withdrawals, ongoing investments and budgeting or spending habits, you have less decisions to make and less work to do reducing the likelihood that one hiccup could cause you to veer off course. Because once you are off course, it’s a lot harder to make up for lost ground that to keep your pace steady along the way.
Why Does The Complexity Of My Situation Affect How Much I Pay?
Because we know that the more complex your situation is, the more time it takes to get and keep the many pieces of your life working together in harmony -- it’s simple math. The higher the complexity, the more hours needed to address, the higher the total cost in fees. So in addition to the time you save by having us do the heavy lifting and ensuring key deadlines are met, consider how much you may be saving in the way of penalties, interest, opportunities cost, taxes or other expenses. What’s that worth to you?
What Makes A Project Complex?
There are a variety of factors we consider when gauging the complexity of a project. Here are a few examples:
- Multiple timelines and deadlines we have to track such as stock option plans, deferred compensation, tax deadlines, charitable donation schedules, etc.
- Depth of the issue trying to resolve – how far back or into the future does it span
- Involvement of others - involvement of multiple family members or other professionals, the more people we have to coordinate, the more time it can take to wrangle everyone, their information and their schedules and the more difficult it is to get consensus, keep everyone up to date, and in some cases, keeping the peace
- The quantity, liquidity, ownership and complexity of your investments
- Access to information – how readily available is the information we need and how much research will we have to do to track down or correctly classify what you have
- Complexity of your tax filing or income sources – are there trusts, businesses or other entities to be factored in
- Legal agreements that need reviewed, coordinated and followed through on – additional level of compliance, checks and balances to ensure we are doing everything we need to be – not just what you want, but what legal documents, the IRS or industry regulators require to avoid fines, penalties and other blowback for non-compliance
Do I Have To Live In Florida To Work With You?
We serve clients throughout the country. Our services and technology have been carefully structured so that we can easily work together from any location. While we have a beautiful physical office, we find many of our clients enjoy the comfort of having our meetings from home via video conference, screen sharing or phone. We find some of our best conversations come when clients are relaxed and engaged so we do our best to make that a common feature of our meetings regardless of how they are held. And we promise not to judge if you are in your pajamas.
Do I Need Estate Planning? I Don’t Have An Estate
We hear this all the time. In truth, we all have an estate. Your ‘estate’ is anything you own from your car and house to your silverware and your pencil sharpener. From how your assets are titled to the decision-making authority and access to information you grant to others, these all fall under the category of your ‘estate’. And not keeping this area in sync with the rest of your financial life can have disastrous effects. We’ve seen it. So we work hard to educate you on these decisions and keep this critical and often overlooked area in sync so you, your assets, your benefits, your health, and your information are all protected.
Who Do you Work With Best?
To put it bluntly, no jerks allowed. If you are seeking assistance because you want to show how smart you are, looking for confirmation of your own biases and beliefs, or like to feel like you are working with the biggest/best on the block then we are not for you. We do not take on clients that do not respect or value our time, talent and dedication. We work harder than most advisors I know and it shows in the relationships we have with our clients, and the results we deliver. Our clients rely on us for very personal decisions, so we are very selective about the people we accept into that family. We evaluate each client as a life-long relationship. If we don’t feel we are a good fit, we are happy to help refer you to some other excellent options that may be a better fit for what you are looking for. This is hard work that changes lives and often flows into our own. So if you aren’t willing to work alongside us to make your life better, we’re not the team for you. If you genuinely want to make your life better, care about your family, career and want to make a difference, we would love to help you make that come true. We can’t wait to make your acquaintance.
How Do I Know If I Would Be A Good Fit?
This is a very good question. It's important you're able to determine our compatibility from the outset, so we do our best to be totally transparent with you about our approach. You would be a good fit for Ignite Financial if:
- You’re interested in a long-term partnership with a proactive team dedicated to helping you organize your financial life and keep it that way.
- You’re looking for a partner to help you make sense of your financial affairs, and to help you see what the future might look like based on what you have in place today and what changes could make things even better.
- You’re willing to let go of the idea of market timing. It just doesn’t work, so we follow a disciplined investment process to save our clients from making incredibly costly mistakes.
- You’re willing to meet at least annually where we can keep each other up to date.
- You value advice from professionals, and recognize that value comes at a cost.
Do You Have An Investment Minimum?
Due to the time-intensive and creative work we do, new clients may be required to meet an investment minimum dependent on the service they have selected. Currently the only minimum investment amount is for Elements - Investment Management Only. Clients opting for just that service must have a minimum of $250,000 in investable assets to join our firm as clients. For our clients opting for the Integrated service, we have a minimum annual fee of $2,000 per household which can come from a combination of investment management and financial planning fees.
What If I Don’t Meet Your Minimum? Can You Still Help?
If you don't have a large amount of investable assets yet but still need financial advice, then fear not - there are still ways we can help. Our Lifeline, Elements – Financial Planning Only, or Integrated service with automated portfolios service may be a fit for you. If we still aren’t a match, another option is to check out www.xyplanningnetwork.com or www.letsmakeaplan.org to find a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to find an advisor that more closely meets your needs. We just want to you get the help you need. We’re OK if that’s not us.
How Do You Keep My Money Safe?
By partnering with a TD Ameritrade Institutional, all of our client’s accounts are custodied with TD. That means they hold your money and investments, produce your account statements, and tax forms every year. All while maintaining the personal, one client at a time approach, best offered through an independent firm.
What Is A CFP®?
Anyone can use the title “financial planner,” but only those who have fulfilled the certification requirements of the CFP Board and demonstrating a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism can display the CFP® certification trademarks. A CFP® has specialized technical expertise with regards to retirement, estate, tax and investment planning; but the real skill comes in the ability to bring all those pieces of a person’s financial life together. And because they are held to a fiduciary standard of care when providing financial planning services, a CFP® professional is required to act in your best interest.
What Is A Fiduciary?
A fiduciary places client interests first and is held to the highest standard of care. Sounds basic, but not all financial professionals work as a fiduciary. We do.
Why Should I Pay An Advisor – Can’t I Do This Myself?
With advances in technology and ready-access to information, many individuals consider managing their investments and financial plan on their own. The reality is that both require the commitment of time and attention that drains focus from other areas of your life. Delegating those tasks to a trusted professional can ensure your money is working as hard as you do without compromising other areas of your life. With the full and active lives we lead today, the better question is not ‘Can I manage on my own?’ but ‘Why would you want to?’ And when you consider that the cost of a mistake along the way is often far higher than our fee, our clients choose us because they simply don’t want to get it wrong.
I'm Ready To Work With You. How Do I Start?
That’s great news! We can’t wait to speak with you. To get started, send us an email or call to schedule a conversation. We’ll set aside 15 minutes to have that initial discussion where we learn more about you, and allow you to learn a little more about us.