One of my favorite parts about being a tax and financial advisor here at Step By Step is getting to know my clients. Relationships are the foundation of society and without a strong, trusting, confident one there is little I could do to effect positive change in the lives of my clients. One of the ways I can start building that relationship is by being as forthcoming as possible during an initial interview with potential clients. To that end, I have taken the time to pick the 5 most common questions asked by potential clients in my practice, and to provide a summary of my answer to each.
1. How much does your service cost? This will vary depending on the retainer agreement, but the minimum fee is $800. Our goal is to provide each client with more value than the cost of the service. If I don’t think I can do that, then I will tell you upfront (and I have!). In that case, it’s not worth your money or our time.
2. Why can’t I do this myself? This answer might surprise you, but you can! Why don’t you? Another example would be that I could represent myself in a court of law, but I don’t. There are professionals for a reason and a financial advisor, like a lawyer, has specialized trainingto practice their specialty with much greater efficiency than someone without it. It’s the value of time. You pay someone else to specialize in one area so you can concentrate on your area of expertise.
3. I just need <fill in the blank>, why are we discussing all these other issues? Our practice focuses on holistic advice that will help your entire financial health. If I were to help you mitigate the symptoms but didn’t try to cure the illness, what good would that do you in the long run? Yes, we can help with the urgent issues but I am always going to ask broader questions to make sure there aren’t other influential factors that you might not realize are there.
4. I don’t know what to ask; if you were in my shoes, what would you ask? The questions I would ask someone I was interviewing to be my own personal financial advisor are: How many clients do your work with? Will I get released if I don’t meet your minimum assets? Will I get the same level of service as someone with a higher value of assets? What are your credentials and why do they matter? If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, what happens to my information and the work you’ve done for me?
5. Why should I choose you over other advisors? You should work with Step By Step if you like me and if you value what we can do for you. It’s that simple!
Are you looking for a way to heat up your financial plan? Check out the fundamentals of fiscal fitness below.
1. Save 10% of gross income
2. Have proper cash and emergency reserves
3. Buy house you can actually afford (usually 2-2 1/2 times gross income)
4. Fully fund available retirement plans
-Take advantage of the “guaranteed” tax savings the government wants to give to you.
5. $0 Consumer and Credit Debt
I am frequently asked: what is a “fee-only advisor” and why should I work with one? First, a fee-only advisor’s compensation comes directly from the client. The advisor does not receive any commissions or referral fees from selling financial products (such as annuities, insurance or investments). A fee-only advisor may receive compensation from assets under management, retainer fees or an hourly rate. I focus the majority of my business on retainer fees.
In contrast, a “fee-based” advisor receives compensation from both charging a fee for completing a financial plan and from commissions on the products recommended as part of the “implementation strategy.” Many times the financial plan is offered at severe discount. Their real profit comes from selling you the products they recommend. Their belief is that by charging you a fee for their “objective” advice you are more likely to “implement” the strategies they recommend.
A commission-only advisor makes his compensation strictly from selling you financial products that have a “load” or commission attached to them. In my humble opinion, I tend to trust “commission-only” advisors more then “fee-based” advisors because you know they are only getting paid from what you buy from them and they do not have any ulterior motive in offering you a “plan.”
I personally believe each of these advisors has a place in the financial service industry. However, the main thing I ask from each one of them is to disclose to the client how they are going to get paid. The main reason why you should work with a fee-only advisor is they can give you objective, unbiased financial advice free from the potential conflict of interest inherent in product sales. Yes, the fee-only advisor is still selling to you, although the “product” he is selling is an education and trustworthy advice.
When it comes to your money follow this common sense rule: “When you know how your advisor is getting paid you will know who he is really working for!”
Kevin Jacobs, doing business as Step By Step Financial, LLC, is registered with the State of Oklahoma as a Registered Investment Advisor.
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