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.
I charge an upfront Planning Fee of $1,000 for individuals and an ongoing Planning Fee of $200/month. For couples, I charge $1,500 up front, then $250/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 $5 for every $10,000 invested.
What are your qualifications?
I hold a Series 65 license, which means I’ve taken and passed the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam. I’m a Registered Investment Advisor in Washington, DC.
Before I became a Financial Planner I was a math teacher and DCPS staffer. In 2014, I began studying retirement and investment offerings at work and realized I was paying far too high of fees for investments that didn’t make sense for me. In 2015, I fired my own financial advisor and began hosting personal finance workshops for other teachers and staff.
I’m a member of XY Planning Network, a professional community of fee-only advisors, and have completed Heather Jarvis’ Student Loan Workshop Series. I’m currently completing the Howard University School of Business Certificate of Financial Planning Program, and plan to take the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam in November.
How will our relationship work?
If we decide we’re a good fit to work together, we’ll spend the first ~12 weeks building your Financial Plan over four meetings. Once we’ve reviewed your Plan and decided what action steps to take, we’ll have formal check-ins, roughly one per quarter, to continue your financial progress.
We will communicate regularly as-needed between meetings, and you can reach out as often as you like for support. I am always available for clients.
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. 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 some clients who don’t fit this criteria, including in other parts of the country.
I strive to build a practice that advances justice, equity, and antiracism. The economic system in the US has disproportionately benefited white people for centuries, and made it more difficult for others 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 affording 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 for no additional fees.
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, and coordinate with your CPA/tax preparer as needed to lower your lifetime tax bill as much as possible.