Questions We Think You Should Be Asking
These questions are designed to help you see “behind the curtain” of our firm and others you might consider hiring.
1.) Are your recommendations truly in my best interest?
Imagine going to your doctor with a concern about your heart.
Before running any tests, the doctor tries to sell you a pacemaker. The doctor says you need to act today before prices go up.
Later, you learned that the doctor received a kick-back ($$$) to promote this specific pacemaker.
While absurd for the medical profession, this scenario closely resembles much of the financial advice world.
As a firm, we take our Fiduciary duty very seriously. We adhere to the Fiduciary Standard 100% of the time and are personally liable if we give you bad advice.
In addition to a legal obligation:
- Our firm was built on putting clients' interests before our own compensation
- Our commitment to honest & ethical behavior helped us gain recognition as the #2 ranked independent advisory firm in the U.S
- We recommend clients the same investment strategies used in our personal and family accounts
2.) Will your recommendations be primarily focused on one area, or will your recommendations be comprehensive in nature? In other words, will I need to find another advisor for advice in other areas?
For our clients, we serve as a single point of contact for all their financial, tax, and retirement planning needs.
As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals, this includes coordinating every aspect of their financial lives.
Each of our clients has a retirement plan and Financial Action Checklist detailing everything needed to achieve their financial goals. As needed, these action items are coordinated with accountants, attorneys, and other professionals.
3.) Do you have the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully navigate the complicated financial planning and tax world to achieve my financial goals?
Taylor Schulte has taken the rigorous steps required to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. Each year he studies more than 5,000 pages of financial text and is mentored by the country’s top minds in financial, legal, and tax planning.
In addition, Taylor is supported by Tyler Aubrey who is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, and Karen Jackson who is an operational expert making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
4.) How many clients do you serve and how does their situation compare to mine?
We currently serve ~80 families across the United States. We have intentionally limited the size of our practice to ensure every client receives the service they require to achieve their financial goals.
The majority of our clients are retired, or close to it, and their investments range from $2 million to $10 million.
We remain highly specialized in investment management, taxes, and legal issues related to retirement.
5.) How often will I hear from you?
Monthly, or more often if needed. We also hold formal reviews with clients 1-2 times annually.
Client education is a big focus for our firm. We publish regular newsletters explaining what the headlines mean for our clients and break down important retirement topics (in plain English!).
Each quarter, we send a performance report that clearly displays what is going on in your accounts. In addition, our office doors, phone lines, and emails are always open to clients to reach out with questions or concerns.
6.) What will be my total investment expense, how much will you be compensated, and where can I see this in writing?
As detailed in our client agreement, our fees are either based on a percentage (%) of investments being managed OR as a flat annual fee ($).
Our asset-based fees (%) range from 0.20% to o.375% per quarter and our flat annual fees ($) range from $8,000/year to $50,000/year, depending on the scope of work and complexity.
The majority of the investment funds we use have an internal expense of < 0.10%.
The combined expense (our fee + internal fund expenses) is ~50% lower than the industry average.
It only makes sense to hire a financial advisor, or any professional, if the value they provide exceeds the fee being charged.
In other words, the time and effort saved by hiring an expert + the tax savings (and potentially increased investment returns) need to exceed 0.80% annually.
The Retirement Assessment we present to you will clearly quantify the benefits you will receive.
7.) Will you help me solve any and all financial problems I may encounter?
Yes! We have assisted clients in solving an assortment of financial issues such as:
- Retirement plans (401k, 457, 403b, SEP, etc.)
- IRS audits & tax issues
- Family deaths
- Real Estate
- Social Security & Medicare
- Charitable/Legacy Gifting...and more!
While we certainly don’t have all the answers, through our network of resources, we will not stop until a solution has been found.
8.) Where do you keep my money and how can I see it?
For your convenience and safety, Define Financial uses Fidelity Investments as the custodian for our client investment and retirement accounts. Fidelity administers more than $4.3 Trillion in assets.
As a custodian, Fidelity safely holds your investment accounts and provides reporting to you and the IRS each year. Your accounts can be viewed at any time at www.fidelity.com.