Have a question? Find the answer here!
At the end of the day, our job is to give you as much information about yourself as possible so that you and your family can make the best possible decisions for yourselves. More than anything, we’re going to help you figure out where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and what the odds are of your plan actually working. Scary, right? The best way to think about this is walking alongside you and helping you figure out the complicated math. Everyone’s situation is truly different. We find ourselves scratching our heads when a client tells us he decided to elect his social security benefits based on the exact same thing his buddy at work did. What?!??!? We always want to ask: is his situation exactly the same as yours? Has he saved the same amount as you did? Did his wife make the same amount as your wife did? Does he live in the same house? Did your parents leave you the same resources his did? Did his kids go to the same colleges yours did? See where we’re headed here? Just because a solution seems right for your best friend doesn’t mean that’s the case for you. We’re here to help you figure out what’s best for you—it’s truly our job.
Here comes the panic! When it comes to getting started, many people panic or refuse to take the first step here because it seems so daunting. Our job during the planning process is to walk alongside you in finding this information, if you’re struggling with the task of gathering it. Sometimes you may need to sit with a member of our team a few times to help get organized and to figure this stuff out. It’s not our first time doing this and we recognize it might be yours, so we’re here for you. That said, we do like to see documents that fall under the following broad categories: income; cash accounts; insurances; estate and legal documents; retirement accounts; non-retirement accounts and investments; education funding accounts; real estate values; business ownership interests; a listing of all debts; and finally a cash flow statement. While we don’t need all these items for an initial meeting, they do become vital to the planning process. Additionally, our planning software allows you to link bank, investment, and retirement accounts automatically so that those items are updated in real-time and precludes having to gather statements for them. Cool, right?
Transparency is key and many financial advisors make money many different ways. It’s always important that you know. When it comes to financial planning and investment management, we’re fiduciaries and you’re paying a transparent fee that we agree on before ever signing any agreement or deciding to work together. That fee will vary depending on the scope of the work, the complexity, and the size of the accounts you’re asking us to manage. We will walk you through this prior to working together so that you can decide whether you want to work with us and that’s how we get paid by you. It’s also important to note that there are certain financial products you may decide you want to purchase through us like insurance and some retail investment products that would pay us a commission <gasp!>. Again, that would be something we would share with you prior to your consideration of purchasing those products and that you should weigh in your decision-making process. The idea of “commissions” has become a dirty word in the financial planning arena because the fear that an advisor earning a commission would be unduly influenced in his or her recommendations. This is certainly something to be aware of however, there are a number of financial products that might charge a one-time commission that end up being far less expensive for the consumer over a long period of time. This is especially the case if an investor is simply looking to “buy and hold” a particular investment. There are conflicts of interest in any financial relationship. Understanding what they are, is extremely important. Even “fee-only” advisors have inherent conflicts. Know your facts. Know how your advisor is paid ahead of time and ask for it in writing if you’re confused.
You need someone with whom you and your family can build trust. This takes time. Look for someone who is willing to take the time to work with you and understand your situation. When someone starts providing solutions before you’ve even figured out your goals, this should make you suspicious. You should know what you’re paying for, where you’re paying for it (i.e. up-front fee, ongoing charge, etc). Also, it’s important you understand how your advisor is compensated. Advisors who carry the Certified Financial Planning designation are bound to act in your best interest. The CFP® requires a great deal of education to obtain as well as rigorous ongoing continuing education commitments. If you’re working with a financial planner who doesn’t have this designation, find out why they don’t have it.
We partner with great external research partners to assess risk and to determine what’s in your portfolio. Sounds like something everyone says, right? We’re managing our own accounts and the accounts of our parents, using the same strategies and process we’ll use for you. We “eat our own cooking” so to speak. We believe in the process and we believe in the guidance and solutions we provide—particularly when it comes to our own funds! We seek low-cost, diversified investments. We’re not going to be the cheapest and it’s because we’re going to take a fair amount of time to get you matched with the right investment strategy. You know the saying, “you get what you pay for”? Well, it definitely applies to our industry!
We’re brutally honest and we try to be kind. We give our clients as much information about them and their financial situation. Then we help tailor the best possible decisions for themselves and their families. Jim has been a financial advisor for over 17 years—earning his CFP® professional designation over a decade ago. While Advent Partners is an independent financial planning practice, our affiliation with the Thrivent Advisor Network links us to Thrivent Financial’s century of experience of providing Christians with long-term financial solutions. When asked, “would you recommend this to your mother?” he can easily answer, “actually, yes!”
As CFP® professionals, we rigorously adhere to the financial planning process, with an obligation to act in the client’s best interest. The best way to practically express how a CFP® professional operates is embedded in the practice standards of the financial planning process, according to the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Board: