When learning about a financial advisor, many clients have similar questions or will ask something along the lines of "What else should I be asking you?" I thought it might be helpful to lay out some of the common questions I'm asked along with my answers to provide some comfort and clarity.
What services do you provide?
I like to say that I provide investments and advice – not necessarily in that order.
The investments piece covers basically anything I do to help your account(s) grow. That includes evaluating various investment vehicles (stocks, bonds, and funds) and account types to select the best fit for each individual client.
The advice piece covers everything else. This can include conversations and recommendations on a variety of financial topics – or referring you to experts (a tax preparer, for example) when appropriate. You can find some interesting case studies here that lay out some of the ways I help my clients.
How do you get paid and what do you charge?
I am both an investment advisor and broker, so I can get paid one of two ways. Most commonly, my clients and I agree on an investment advisory relationship where I get paid a fee based on an account’s asset value. In this type of relationship, I am a fiduciary, there are never any commissions charged to clients, and I provide some additional services like financial plans and client education events. My typical fees, which are annual fees that are prorated and charged quarterly, can be found here.
A brokerage relationship is a commission relationship. Commissions will vary based on the transaction and investment product. In this type of relationship, I can provide an estimated commission before executing a specific transaction, but it is difficult to give a blanket estimated cost.
What are my all-in costs?
Beyond what I described above, our clearing firm, RBC, may charge annual account maintenance fees which vary based on account type, size, and activity. Currently, the highest annual fee they charge is $50. Additionally, any trades in brokerage (commission) accounts incur a $7.50 per transaction fee.
Who do you work best with?
My ideal clients are curious, realistic, and understand that I have their best interests at heart. I believe that clients should understand how a given investment works and should speak up if they are uncomfortable with an investment or strategy. I encourage questions that begin with the word “Why”.
I would hope that my clients view me as a resource – someone to help with the time, effort, and stress that is involved with managing their financial lives.
How do you define and measure success for your clients?
I measure success in relation to a client’s goals. Investment returns greater than a given benchmark are wonderful, but those moving targets are difficult to hit and can result in taking on more risk than necessary. I focus on helping you reach a specific goal – be it saving for college, a major purchase, or retirement or producing the necessary income from your portfolio.
Do you have any minimum investment requirements?
My typical minimum is $250,000 of investable assets. However, I do not have an asset minimum for parents of school-aged children but rather what I call an "attitude minimum" – basically, making sure our attitudes and goals are aligned.
Will you consider my tax situation when making recommendations?
Absolutely. Taxes can be a gigantic drain on returns if not accounted for properly. I consider not only the tax-efficiency of a given investment, but also for clients with multiple account types (taxable, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, etc.) the most tax advantaged account in which to place that investment.
How do you stay in contact with clients?
Typically, communication from me comes either via email or phone call. Email tends to be for more generalized communication while a phone call is for more specific conversations, but there are exceptions. Any transaction done in a non-discretionary account must be verbally confirmed, so a phone call in that case is a must. There are some regulatory restrictions on using text messages, so I am not able to text for business purposes.
Additionally, I use both LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), and this website to share my thoughts on investing, the markets, or any other topic I happen to find interesting. I will also use those resources to promote causes and events that are important to me.
What is your investment philosophy?
Quality and simplicity are the overall themes of my investment philosophy. I look for and recommend quality investments that my clients can hold for years, not the hot stock of the day. I believe that a client should be able to understand and be comfortable with any investment before putting their hard-earned money to work.
I believe in customized portfolios based on my clients’ needs and goals. By diversifying your investments, I can help to reduce your risk, allowing your account to perform well over a full market cycle, which typically lasts 5-7 years.
What are your qualifications?
I graduated from Western Michigan University in 2001 with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance. I have my Series 7, 63, and 65 as well as insurance licenses. In 2017, I earned the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® certification, which is the only advanced credential designed for wealth managers who advise high-net-worth clients. In 2022, I completed the Certified College Financial Consultant designation – specialized training in all areas of college finances from a student’s birth through student loan repayment strategies.
What resources do you use?
I have access to – and use – several tools and resources for the benefit of my clients. Among others, they are:
Research – Bloomberg, InvestmentView, RBC Insights, several websites and publications
Financial Planning – MoneyGuidePro and Nitrogen (formerly Riskalyze)
Risk Evaluation – Nitrogen
CRM – Redtail
Performance Reporting – Addepar
Once you are ready to talk about your goals and objectives, click here to schedule a meeting with me.