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 $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 $0.50 for every $1,000 invested.

What are your qualifications?

I’ve completed Kaplan Financial’s Series 65 Review Course and hold a Series 65 license, which means I’ve passed the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam. I’m enrolled in the Howard University School of Business Certificate in Financial Planning Program and have completed the Fundamentals of Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, and Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits Courses. I expect to complete the Capstone by January 2021 and sit for the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) exam in March.

Before I became a Financial Planner I was a math teacher and DC Public Schools 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 got rid of my own financial advisor and began hosting personal finance workshops for other teachers and staff. A few years later, I decided to make it official and start my practice.

I’m a member of XY Planning Network, a professional community of fee-only advisors. I meet regularly with groups of other advisors and CFP’s for continuing education and coaching around Financial Planning concepts, and attend courses related to tax, estate, investment, and insurance planning. I also devote time to staying up to date on the ever-changing landscape of laws related to investments, 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.

I work with Charesse Spiller of Get Level Best for coaching on how 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 ~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 federal government employees, business owners, and educators 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 like me 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 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 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, 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.