This practice is centered around knowing what is important to YOU.

Our Solutions

We can’t say that we have a magic bullet that will solve all problems. And we have no special door to the “tree of money”. What we do have is a comprehensive process.

A little bit of history on how this process has been developed:

Twenty years ago, we were fortunate enough to be accepted into an association that was on the leading edge of true wealth management. This small group of comprehensive wealth managers is focused on delivering a client experience that well surpasses any advisors. We don’t just manage a portfolio, we deliver a full solution to both optimize and increase the chances that clients reach their goals. Our association looks at every aspect of the client’s life: taxes, insurance, assets and liabilities, etc. We share how to find new tax savings, how to view asset allocation, and how to deliver an exceptional client experience.  Over the last 20+ years, this association has grown into a family of advisors that can be found in almost every state.

What does this have to do with you? Process! 

As a community we have continued to sharpen our skills, so that we can deliver an experience like no other planner. We all took the opinion that if we all put our best ideas into the “pot” that the sum total of what each advisor would be left with would be a process and a practice that was much more advanced than any of our peers.

From a high-level, clients go through these initial steps:

Step 1. Financial Review

Step 2. First Year Integration

Step 3. Ongoing management – Either:

  • Financial Planning Client
  • Wealth Management Client

Financial Review

First stage in any relationship is “buy-in”.  We can’t lead our clients, if they don’t believe that we know what we are talking about. So, we offer a Financial Review. It’s not free. It is a $500 investment in your future!

Our financial review is meant as a way for you to see how well we work together… and to deliver at least $500 in value!

Here is a short list of financial questions/actions clients have asked us to answer in a meeting:

  • Review prior tax returns for missed deductions.
  • Tax planning for current year.
  • Recommendation of possible tax strategies to consider.
  • Review of current asset allocation and investment location for tax efficiency (we don’t give future asset allocation in the financial review meeting for the simple reason that asset allocation should be looked at regularly).
  • Evaluation of performance of current investments.
  • Review of Financial Life Cycle position.
  • Retirement/Financial Independence Analysis.
  • Insurance Review.

 

Here is a typical Financial Review Process:

  1. Pre-Meeting
    1. You schedule a time to meet
    2. We will send you a welcome email that contains:
      1. A questionnaire and a list of documents we will need.
      2. Another document that has a list of questions clients typically want answered in this meeting (depending upon time, we answer 3 questions.).
    3. You deliver documents to our office or via the secure online folder we will create for you.
    4. Once all data is present, we will start to organize your data.
      1. We will take the last 3 years of tax returns and put them into our tax program.
        1. Why? Taxes are about a third of how we help our clients get to and stay in financial independence. It has been very helpful for prospective clients to see how we look at taxes. Often a prospective client doesn’t think their question has a tax related answer and are a little surprised when we pull up the tax software to look at the question in light of tax consequences.
        2. We are looking for missed deductions.
      2. We will build a spreadsheet that will show you what your current net worth is. It will include assets and liabilities (your house, cars, bank accounts, loans etc.).
        1. This data helps us to give us a full view of your current situation.
      3. We will review your bank statements, tax returns, and paystubs to get an estimated monthly cash flow. (You don’t need to track every penny you spend for us to figure out how much money it will take for you to live. After 20 years working with clients, we know tracking every dollar can be painful, so we came up with a simple way to get a good estimate of their yearly spending.
      4. We will run different financial independence projections.
  2. Financial Review (the meeting)
    1. We will first write down the objective for the meeting: the questions you are looking to have answered, etc.
    2. Second, we dig deeper into the list of questions the prospective client is looking for. What type of answer are they looking for? A mathematical answer, a simple yes or no.  Is there a reason or motive for the question, e.g. can I retire now? Does that mean that the person can’t stand their job, or are they asking, “have I saved enough?”
    3. Next, we start to answer the questions from the perspective of the client. It may be looking at numbers on a spreadsheet, pulling up our tax program, or simply talking through overall goals/objectives. When we answer the questions, we work hard to be cognitive that certain people love numbers, while others can’t stand them.
    4. After we have gone through your list of questions, we confirm that you are clear with what we have talked about.
    5. Lastly, we will review what your fee will be for the year. Our fee covers ALL of our planning, asset management, and tax preparation. In other words, it is comprehensive. This is true whether you become a Financial Planning client or a Wealth Management client.
  3. After the meeting
    1. We will follow-up to see if there are any questions that came up after the meeting and see what you have decided to do in terms of moving forward as a client. Sixty percent of prospective clients that go through the Financial Review with us, become clients.  If we aren’t a good fit, no worries, we hope you find an advisor that is!

Ready to start? Click here to schedule a Financial Review

Financial Planning Client

Do you have less than $250k in assets for us to manage? Cool, we are glad you are looking for assistance in meeting your financial goals. Many of our clients started with less than $250k, while others started with nothing.

If you are willing to put in the work to save, we are here to be your coach. We will help you find dollars that have been “lost” and put them into your retirement bucket.  For over 20 years, we have helped our clients find 10’s of thousands of dollars lost to over payment in taxes, the wrong insurance policies and more. We would love to help you build a solid nest egg that you can comfortably retire on!

Who is this for? All individuals and couples with less than $250k dollars in retirement assets.

What is covered in your fee? Everything below and your current year tax preparation.  The retainer is “Open”, which means we want you to feel comfortable calling us with any question. We don’t want you to try to figure out when to call us, because you aren’t sure if is worth it. If you have a question, call us

 

The Process

Step 1. Complete a Financial Review (see overview above in Financial Review)

Step 2. First Year of Financial Planning

  1. Client Vision- What should we focus on 1 year out, 2 years out, 5 years out, etc.
    1. Some call it goal setting, other people call it their dreams. Whatever you are comfortable calling how you envision your life in the future, that is what we are after.  Both the future in the short term, 1 year out, and the future in the long term 5, 10, 20 plus years out.
  2. Current Analysis (some of this maybe done in the Financial Review)
    1. Review Assets and Liabilities (We will build a personal Balance Sheet. For those that don’t know what this is, it is one page that shows all your assets and all your debt).
    2. Portfolio.
      1. Review all 401k, 403b etc.
      2. Rollover any old retirement plans for us to help manage for you.
      3. Design your asset allocation (how your money is invested) for your entire portfolio.
    3. Review loans- make sure you are paying the minimum interest and have a plan to pay off any non-positive leveraged debt.
    4. Review housing – is it the right size for your income?
    5. Review any large purchases that may be coming up. Discuss how to pay for them.
    6. Review Insurances.
      1. Life insurance: is there enough? the right type? the right length? etc.
      2. Property and Casualty (cars, boats, house etc.): review limits, deductibles, the right type and amount of coverage, etc.
      3. Disability- long term and short term.
    7. Taxes
      1. Past years
        1. Review past returns for missed deductions and accuracy
      2. Current Year
        1. Estimate future years taxes to make sure we know what we will owe or what your estimated refund will be.
        2. Guide as to changes you can make on your paystub to minimize withholding too much or having to pay too much at the end of the year.
        3. Account for large donation(s).
        4. Account for Minimum Required Distributions.
        5. Stock option planning etc.
    8. Estate Planning
      1. We don’t create the plan. We help guide you in what you need, who can help you, and what you might want to have in the plan
      2. Do all of your accounts have the right beneficiary information?
      3. Do you have healthcare directives in place?
      4. Do you have someone that will care for your kids?
      5. Is all of this written down so your chosen person can help you?
        1. Do you need a trust?
        2. Do you need a will?
    9. Financial Planning
      1. Build plans for…
        1.  Retirement.
        2. Job/career changes.
        3. Starting a business.
        4. Buying a car.
        5. Buying a house.
        6. Kids college.
      2. Understand how much it takes you to live
        1. After 20 years in planning, we have created a unique way to find this out, WITHOUT tracking every dollar you spend!

Yes, this may seem like a lot. However, this intensive review is meant to find money that can be put to work for you. Also, remember, we are your guide – your coach. Our goal is to take as many of the tasks off of your plate and put them on ours. This list is meant to give you insight into all the areas of your life.

 

Step 3: Rinse and Repeat

  1. Every year
    1. Review Portfolio.
      1. Make necessary adjustments to your current allocation.
    2. Update your personal balance sheet.
      1. This step is vital. It shows you how you’re doing.  It will show you how debt is decreasing and how well you are saving.  Our clients love this unique tool.
    3. Financial Planning.
      1. Review your financial plans (see above).
      2. Make adjustments to any of them.
      3. Confirm you are still on course.
    4. Taxes.
      1. Every year we will prepare your taxes through a triple review process:
        1. California Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP) assembles and reviews tax return.
        2. Senior CPA reviews return for errors.
        3. Your financial advisor reviews your return with you to make sure deductions we talked about during the year are included in your return and that we maximized tax deductions.
      2. We review withholding 1-3x per year to make sure that we are withholding enough. This varies for different types of clients: Teachers, usually 1x, but salespeople with large bonuses or business owners we may review 3x per year.
    5. Talk.
      1. Seems like an odd one, but our meetings are as much about “checking boxes” for you as they are in getting to know you. The more we know who you are, and what is important to you, the better we can be a trusted coach/guide.
    6. Life events and periodic reviews.
      1. Insurance, estate planning, new baby, etc.

This intensive review is meant to find money that can be put to work for you.

Wealth Management

You have saved, inherited, or received enough to have us manage over $250k.  Great, you fit into our Wealth Management platform. Most of our clients have graduated into this. The platform is very similar to our Financial Planning offering, e.g. it is an Open Retainer where we encourage all questions.  The flow and the process are very similar.  While it is similar to our Financial Planning offering, there are two items that are unique to our Wealth Management clients:

  1. Complexity:
    1. Clients that are in Wealth Management tend to have more complex financial planning needs and/or larger portfolios. Here are a couple areas we help with our Wealth Management clients:
      1. Reducing large stock holdings to reduce single stock risk. We have clients that have had stock for years, usually passed on from one generation to the next. They don’t want to sell the stock, but they realize that keeping it could create more volatility/risk in their portfolio. We are able to design portfolios around these unique situations.
      2. Stock options. Some clients are pre-IPO or work for a publicly traded company and have received stock options. This stock needs to be planned for, both in terms of taxes and reducing exposure to a single stock.
    2. Portfolio Management.
      1. The funds that we can get into and the type of risk management we can do, changes with these clients.

FAQ’s

 

Is this similar to what I would get with a broker (Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, etc.)?

No. Brokers typically deal with just portfolio management. Clients who come to us after working with a brokerage house tell us that we give a much higher level of service. They hear from us much more and feel that we are looking out for their best interests. Many brokers are good people; however, it is tough with the brokerage business model to give the same level of service that we do.

 

Why is it hard for brokers to give the same level of service as your firm?

For a broker to be successful, their “book of business” (the number of clients they have), needs to be over 250. Most brokers who have been in business for 10+ years will have 500 to 1,000 clients in their book.  Those that have fewer are successful by setting asset minimums of $500,000 – $1,000,000.

 

What is your retention rate after the first year?

The majority of our clients (95%+) stay with us the second year and beyond.  This is largely based on the relationship that we build… and it doesn’t hurt that we usually save them more in the first year than we charge them.

 

What differences between these people that call themselves advisors?

Captive Agents:
People typically working in the insurance industry.  If they are saying that they help you with financial planning, then they pitch you some insurance product…run!  Or better yet ask them how much they make off that insurance policy they are selling you. This will help you understand who benefits from their recommendations.

Hybrid Advisors:
Advisors that can charge you for their time and collect commissions. The easiest way to spot them is looking at the bottom of their website.  It will say something like “securities offered through” on there somewhere.  This means that they can take commissions on the products/assets they manage.

Fee-Based:
An unregulated term that can be used by advisors who “switch hats” between providing advice and selling products or receiving commissions.

Fee-Only™:
The only true commission free advisors. Those legally using the term Fee-Only™ proudly belong to NAPFA.