If you’re considering working with a financial planner, it’s good to do some research before deciding who to work with. There are plenty of good lists of questions to ask out there if you google ‘questions to ask financial advisors’. Here’s one example from Nerdwallet.

My answers to the questions are below.

Are you a fiduciary?

Yes! Acting as a fiduciary means I have both an ethical and legal obligation to always put your interests first. I sign an agreement acknowledging fiduciary status with all clients.

How do you get paid?

I am a fee-only advisor, which means all payments come directly from clients. I don’t sell products, earn commissions, or get referral bonuses for making recommendations.

I charge an upfront Planning Fee of $990 for individuals and an ongoing Planning Fee of $250/month. For couples, I charge $1,500 up front, then $330/month for Ongoing Planning.

Investment management is included in the Planning Fee for up to $250,000 in invested assets. Above that level, a 1% fee for assets under management replaces the Financial Planning Fee. You can read more about Services and Pricing here.

What are my all-in costs?

In addition to the above costs, all investments come with a cost known as an expense ratio. I typically use low-cost, diversified investments for clients. This costs roughly 0.05% in expenses each year, or $0.50 for every $1,000 invested.

What are your qualifications?

I am a CFP® Professional, which means I’ve satisfied extensive education and competency requirements and am held to the ethical standards laid out by the CFP® board. I earned a Certificate in Financial Planning from the Howard University School of Business, which includes the following courses: Fundamentals of Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, and a Capstone Course. I passed the CFP® exam and the Series 65 Uniform Investment Advisor Law Exam. My firm is a Registered Investment Advisory Firm in Washington, DC.

I’m a member of XY Planning Network, a professional community of fee-only, fiduciary advisors. I meet regularly with groups of other advisors for continuing education and coaching around Financial Planning concepts, and am constantly reading articles and attending webinars related to tax, estate planning, investment, behavioral finance, and insurance planning strategies. In today’s ever-changing regulatory environment, I also devote time to staying up to date on new laws and how they affect taxes, student loans, and employee benefits. I’ve completed Heather Jarvis’ Student Loans for Advisors Course and College Aid Pro’s Education Planning for Advisors course which focuses on planning to pay for college.

I work with a Process Coach to continually improve my financial planning processes and systems to deliver maximal value for my clients.

How will our relationship work?

If we decide we’re a good fit to work together, we’ll spend the first ~10 weeks building your Financial Plan over four meetings. Once we’ve reviewed your Plan and decided what action steps to take, we’ll have structured check-ins in the spring and fall to continue your financial progress.

I reach out proactively throughout the year to stay ahead of things like retirement contributions, tax filing, credit score maintenance, insurance planning, and estate planning. You can also reach out as often as you like for support because things inevitably change throughout the year.

What’s your investment philosophy and what asset allocation will you use?

To build your investment plan, we’ll first take a look at your current situation and what it will take for you to reach your goals. I’ll ask you to take a Risk Profile Questionnaire, then we’ll have a meeting focused on building an investment portfolio tailored to your goals and needs.

I generally believe in well-diversified, low-cost investments that will give you exposure to global equity and fixed income markets, then optimizing where you hold investments for tax efficiency. I typically use Vanguard Exchange Traded Funds to construct portfolios. Your asset allocation will depend on a combination of what you need to reach your goals and what level of risk you are comfortable with.

Who are your typical clients?

I mostly work with educators and city government employees in the Washington, DC area. I have particular expertise in dealing with DCPS and DC Government benefits and retirement plans. I do have clients who don’t fit this criteria, including federal government employees, business owners, and couples in their 30s and 40s in other parts of the country. While I love my 70 year old parents, I don’t typically work with retirees.

I strive to build a practice that advances justice, equity, and antiracism. The economic system in the US has disproportionately benefited white people like me for centuries, and made it more difficult for so many people to access resources like financial planning. If we are a good fit to work together and you identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color, and are concerned about paying the fee, please reach out to discuss a discount.

What investment benchmarks do you use?

US Equity – CRSP US Total Market Index

International and Emerging Market Equity – FTSE Global All Cap ex US Index

Who is your custodian?

TD Ameritrade. You’ll have online access and receive statements and tax forms for no additional fees.

If you decide to use me for investment management, I’ll work directly with the support team at TD to handle the majority of the administrative work around form completion, updating information, waiting on hold, etc.

What tax hit do I face if I invest with you?

Taxes are a key piece of any comprehensive financial planning process. We’ll discuss Tax Planning in depth and consider the tax implications of all decisions, including those around investing, student loans, retirement planning, etc.

We’ll use multi-year projections, consider current and future income levels, potential capital gains taxes, where we hold different types of assets, and coordinate with your CPA/tax preparer as needed to lower your lifetime tax bill as much as possible.