Frequently Asked Questions
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Who do you serve?
A: We provide our services to individuals, families, businesses, trusts, partnerships, not-for-profit organizations and retirement plans who wish to pursue long-term goals based on our strategic approach to managing wealth.
Q: Describe your broad services.
A: We conduct initial and ongoing deep discovery, to determine clients’ financial needs in relation to their unique values; goals; personal, professional and institutional relationships; assets; and interests. We then form a far-reaching plan to achieve those goals. We gather expertise — or we are prepared to work with existing alliances — to ensure that each component within the strategy is carefully executed and seamlessly integrated to serve the overall purpose.
Q: How much does it cost to hold initial planning meetings with your firm?
A: There is no cost for our initial Discovery and Investment Plan meetings. We feel it’s time well spent to first get to know one another — before we seek mutual commitment and before we begin charging a fee.
Q: How do you charge for your services?
A: We are a fee-only advisor, with our fees based on a percentage of your assets that we manage. We feel a fee-only approach best aligns our interests with yours, helping us meet our fiduciary obligation as a Registered Investment Advisor firm. Our fees are on a sliding scale; as your portfolio grows, the percentage decreases. In addition, we take a family approach to investing. Aggregating assets to determine your fees (while still managing each portfolio according to its distinct policies) enables favorable rates for your immediate family.
Q: Do you have a minimum portfolio size?
A: Our minimum portfolio size is $250,000. If your current asset level does not meet our minimum requirements but you have unique circumstances you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
Q: What happens to my current holdings if I become a client?
A: Before any changes are made, we first analyze your existing portfolio and discuss our recommendations with you. Our overall goal is for your portfolio to make sense for you and your lifetime objectives, in the most cost-effective way possible. Ways we achieve this goal are to capture your unique willingness, ability and need to take on market risk via appropriate (often global) diversification; to minimize the expenses involved in investing; to manage for appropriate asset allocation between taxable and tax-sheltered accounts; and to eliminate any unnecessary complexity within the collection of accounts within your portfolio. If existing holdings lend themselves to these objectives, we leave them in place. If changes are warranted, we work with you to ensure any transitions occur as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.
Q: Do you trade and hold my assets for me?
A: While you grant us Limited Power of Attorney (LPOA) to execute transactions on your behalf, you remain in control of your assets. Accounts are held in your name at a quality custodian such as Schwab Institutional.
Q: Describe your investment approach.
A: For managing your financial portfolio, we offer a prudent approach based on our fiduciary relationship with you as your trusted investment advisor. Fiduciary duty is generally considered the highest legal duty one party can have to another. As a Registered Investment Advisor firm, we have a legal responsibility to always act in your best interests — and we take that responsibility very seriously.
We apply an evidence based investment approach, tailoring your portfolio’s level of risk (and its expected returns) according to your personal preferences, goals and circumstances. We adhere to the tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory and to the guidelines provided by the American Law Institute in drafting The Uniform Prudent Investor Rule. They indicate that the overwhelmingly largest determinant of portfolio performance is its asset allocation — how your assets are exposed to various risk factors. We build portfolios accordingly, typically using low-cost institutional managers who provide passively managed mutual funds and diversifying them globally to reduce non-market risks.
Many other financial service firms offer an approach based on “active management.” Active management assumes that the markets are generally inefficient, allowing clever individuals to regularly exploit and profit from the anomalies (beyond the costs of consistently seeking and executing such trades). And yet, there is overwhelming academic evidence that the collective wisdom of all market players — especially in today’s electronic era — results in highly efficient markets. Markets reflect fair pricing almost instantaneously upon release of any good or bad price-related news. In offering a “passive management” approach, we heed the academic wisdom. We assume that the opportunities to exploit inefficiencies are too few and far between to effectively and affordably pursue.
Q: What if I need a bond (fixed income) portfolio or other special holdings?
A: Our philosophy is that equity investments are for growth; fixed income investing has a vital mission all its own: to control overall volatility in a portfolio and provide a stable financial base. It should act as the vehicle for steady, reliable income and contingency reserves. We address your fixed income needs as an integral part of your overall portfolio as well as by considering the special needs, characteristics and (often hidden) costs inherent in the bond market. If a custom bond portfolio makes sense for you, we build one for you based on analysis of each bond’s full range of characteristics (sector, maturity, credit rating and more). Through our relationship with BAM Advisor Services, LLC, an affiliated entity of the Buckingham Family of Financial Services, we have access to strategic fixed income resources and a network of local and national bond dealers that help ensure a wide range of security availability as well as fair and competitive institutional level pricing for you.
Q: I am contacting you because I have heard you offer access to Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) funds. How do I learn more about DFA? What is your relationship with them?
A: If you have already heard of DFA, you may be aware that it seeks to protect the reliability and manage the costs of its funds by requiring investors to access them via a select group of financial advisory firms. You can learn more about Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) by clicking here to visit their website.
Our firm is proud to be among the select firms who have access to DFA funds. We often find that they provide the best vehicles for building portfolios that can be cost-effectively designed and managed to target your unique objectives through all types of markets. However, we receive no commissions for using DFA funds. Whenever we feel there is a better investment option for your particular needs, we use it.