Q: How much does a financial plan cost?
A: The answer depends upon the scope of work and the number of meetings needed, which is why I will provide you with an estimate before you hire me. To provide you with a sense for what my fees are like, the fee for a written plan that includes two meetings to go over the plan is typically in the $4,000 to $10,000 range. Please note that if you chose to utilize our asset management services, 50% of the cost of your financial plan can be applied across the first four quarters of investment management fees immediately following delivery of a financial plan.
Q: What is your hourly rate?
A: My hourly rate is $235 per hour billed in 6-minute increments with partial increments billed as a whole.
Q: Can I simply buy a few hours of your time instead of having you create a plan?
A: Yes, I refer to this service as a financial planning consultation.
Q: Do you provide free intial phone calls?
A: Yes, for a financial plan, but not for a financial planning consultation. Financial planning consultations tend to be short engagements of just a few hours. I found that it was not practical to have a free call prior to such a short engagement.
Q: Do you provide advice during an initial phone call?
A: I do not provide advice during an initial phone call because the focus is on seeing if we are a good fit to work together. You may prefer a financial planning consultation if you wish to have a conversation that is designed toward answering low complexity questions right away.
Q: I spoke to another financial planner who is willing to provide advice without charging me a fee for the financial plan. Why would I want to work with you when someone else will provide financial planning for free?
A: A free financial plan is not really free. An advisor who does not charge a planning fee is being paid somehow whether that is by commission or some other mechanism.
Q: What is the difference between a fee-only financial planner and a fee-based financial planner?
A: Fee-only financial planners do not accept commissions and do not sell products. Fee-based financial planners do accept commissions and do sell products such as insurance policies, annuities, and mutual funds that charge loads. For more information please see the following article: The Difference Between Fee-only and Fee-based Financial Planners.
Q: Are you a fee-only financial planner or a fee-based financial planner?
A: I am a fee-only financial planner.
Q: Are you an independent financial advisor?
A: Yes, but calling me fee-only is more accurate. Fee-only financial planners are independent, but independent financial advisors are not necessarily fee-only. Someone who calls themself an independent financial advisor is usually someone who is not fee-only, otherwise they would call themself fee-only. Being independent means that the advisor is not employed by a specific insurance company or brokerage firm. Independent financial advisors who are not fee-only can still sell products on commission. I do not sell financial products and therefore it is more accurate to call me a fee-only financial planner.
Q: Do you sell life insurance or annuities?
A: No, I do not sell insurance or receive commissions on any product. Selling products that pay commissions creates an incentive to recommend solutions that are not in a client’s best interest. As a fee-only financial planner I have agreed not to accept commissions and therefore there is no incentive for me to recommend something that you do not need.
Q: Can you provide a second opinion on the advice that I have received from my current financial advisor?
A: Yes, I provide second opinions. One method is to for me to review your current advisor’s proposal and see if it appears to be rational, and that is something that we can do within a financial planning consultation. Alternatively, I could create a financial plan from scratch and then you could compare the two plans.
Q: Are you a fiduciary?
A: Yes, I am a fiduciary. Because Whalen Financial Planning is a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA), I am required to put the interests of clients before my own interests when providing advice. In contrast, advisors who work for brokerage firms or insurance companies may not need to act in your best interest and may recommend solutions that are only “suitable”.
Q: How can I get started working with you?
A: Please see my contact page.
Q: Will you work with me even if I do not have a large amount of money to invest?
A: Yes, because I do not have asset minimums for creating a financial plan, or having a financial planning consultation. Returning clients who work with me on an hourly basis also do not need to meet an asset minimum (see Investments & Plan Updates for more information).
Q: Under what circumstance would there be an asset minimum to work with you?
A: If you wish for me to proactively monitor your investments and recommend/make changes on your behalf, there is an asset minimum of $500,000 (see Investments & Plan Updates for more information).
Q: Are you able to work virtually with clients who live outside of the Los Angeles area?
A: Yes, we can talk over the phone or use video conferencing.
Q: Can we meet in-person?
A: Yes, as long as you and any others in attendance have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. By the way, I am fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Q: What is it like to work with you?
A: With me, you will find a thoughtful person who is sincere about sharing my expertise. I enjoy connecting with people, but I'm also somewhat of an introvert. If something is not urgent, I have a tendency to schedule meetings or send emails rather than initiate an impromptu phone call.
Q: What is your investment philosophy?
A: I focus on factors that are controllable such as being well diversified, selecting funds with low expenses, and minimizing investment taxes. You can find more detailed information regarding my investment philosophy by clicking here.
Q: What certifications and academic credentials do you hold?
A: CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™), CTFA (Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor), Graduated with honors from the Marshall School of Business at USC, Graduated with honors from Cannon Financial Institute Trust School at Pepperdine University. You can find more information by clicking here.
Q: What experience do you bring to the table?
A: Here are highlights from my work experience prior to founding Whalen Financial Planning in 2017: ten years with Fidelity Investments, Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch, Senior Business Analyst with PeopleSoft, Senior Financial Analyst with Hewlett Packard. You can find more information by clicking here.
Q: Are you a member of any industry associations?
A: Yes, I am a member of NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) and the Garrett Planning Network. I also pay annual dues to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in order to maintain my CFP® certification and the American Bankers Association in order to maintain my CTFA certification.
Q: What continuing education requirements are your required to meet in order to maintain your CFP® and CTFA certifications and maintain your membership with NAPFA?
A: NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) requires 60 continuing education hours every 2 years. The CFP Board requires 30 continuing education hours every 2 years. In order to maintain my CTFA designation I need to complete 45 continuing education hours every 3 years.