Q: How much does a financial plan cost?
A: The answer depends upon the scope of work, which is why I will provide you with an estimate before you hire me. My fee for a written plan that includes two meetings to go over the plan and follow-up questions is typically in the $2,000 to $4,000 range.
Q: Do you charge a fee for an initial consultation?
A: No, there is no charge for the initial consultation for those who are looking for a financial plan.
Q: Do you provide advice during the initial consultation?
A: I usually do not provide advice during an initial consultation because at the point when the meeting occurs I am still in the process of understanding your situation.
Q: I just have a few questions. 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 collaborative planning. We can have a brief phone meeting to talk about whether this approach makes sense for you. If you decide that you prefer collaborative planning, our next meeting would be billed at the rate of $200 per hour.
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.
Q: Are you a fee-only financial planner or a fee-based financial planner.
A: I am a fee-only financial planner and therefore I do not accept commissions.
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: Could you provide a second opinion on the advice that I have received from my current financial advisor?
A: Yes, I provide second opinions. The most cost effective approach is to first have me look at your current advisor’s proposal and indicate whether the recommendations seem to be rational. 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 your interests before my own. In contrast, advisors who work for brokerage firms or insurance companies do not need to act in your best interest and only need to recommend solutions that are “suitable”.
Q: How can I get started working with you?
A: Call or email me so that we can setup a time to talk over the phone.
Q: Do you require that clients meet a certain asset or income minimum in order to work with you?
A: No. The amount of assets you have or the amount of income you earn will not disqualify you from working with me. I charge by the hour, which helps make me accessible to clients across asset and income levels. What’s most important to me is that you are pleasant to work with and you value the service that I perform.
Q: Are you able to work virtually with clients who live outside of the Los Angeles area?
Q: What is it like to work with you?
A: I’m an analyst not a smooth talking salesperson. With me you will find a thoughtful person who is sincere about sharing my expertise.
Q: What is your investment philosophy?
A: I prefer strategies that are characterized by low portfolio expenses, minimal trading costs, and tax efficiency. I like to use index based mutual funds and for clients who are interested I can incorporate ETF’s (exchange traded funds) within my recommendations. I’m not a stock picker and I do not believe in trying to time the market.
Q: Are all the questions above asked frequently?
A: Okay, not all these questions are asked frequently, but I believe that the information above will be helpful to you in deciding whether or not you wish to explore working with me.