As a Fee-Only advisor, we have made a commitment to being paid exclusively by our clients. That means that our advice has no hidden agendas. We don't receive a commission for investing in a certain high fee mutual fund (we try to avoid those for obvious reasons), we can't sell life insurance (as fun as that sounds) and you get to know exactly what you are paying for. Our fee structure combines Assets Under Management (AUM) with a minimum fee.
The latter allows us to work with complex cases that may still be accumulating assets. Our fees cover the following services:
We believe that there are people who could benefit from our services who do not currently have sufficient assets accumulated under the AUM model to fit financially with our service level. To address this, we accept clients with less assets, but apply a minimum fee based on a calculation that considers complexity, income, and value that can be provided. Each quarter, as we calculate our invoice amount we compare the minimum with the AUM calculation, and charge the greater of the two (they are not additive).
We revisit the minimum fee annually and may adjust it by an amount similar to inflation at that time.
No fee model is perfect, but one reason that AUM offers a conflict is where an advisor (Fee Only or otherwise) is compensated solely using the AUM model. This can result in biased advice, if we take a scenario where a client has $3,000,000 in AUM and $1,000,000 in mortgage.
The client is currently paying a fee of $28,500 using AUM calculations. If the advisor recommends that the client withdraw $1,000,000 in AUM to pay off the mortgage, believing it that to be the best choice for the client (which is what a Fiduciary must strive for) the client fee will reduce to $19,000. This creates a conflict of interest to the advisor.
Using a minimum fee of $28,500 in this scenario allows the advisor to recommend what they feel to be the most appropriate course of action, but ensures that compensation for their services is not negatively impacted. We believe that this combination method creates a well aligned fee model.
Theoretically, if we use a minimum fee approach, we could assign this fee to any client profile. However, we do believe that there are times where our fee doesn't justify the service received. Fees do cause drag on investment returns and in financial plans. While it is difficult to quantify value, we typically aim to provide a value multiple of at least 2x of the minimum fee in the first year for our clients. If it is less than this, then it is less likely we will be a fit.
Each fee will be calculated based on the complexity of the client situation. However, we expect typical client minimum fees to be at least $10,000 per year. This means that we are looking to work with clients who either have in excess of $1,000,000 in investable assets or have sufficient complexity where $10,000 in fees offers tangible upside to their financial situation.
We typically start with a get to know each other call. This allows us to explore the complexity of your situation and discuss whether we feel if there is a good fit in terms of value add. We encourage you to start with email to get the ball rolling: firstname.lastname@example.org
No. If you have a good tax preparer we are happy to work with them in a collaborative manner. Since we include tax preparation within our fees, we typically lower our minimum fee when a client has an existing relationship with a competent tax professional. We'd want to review past years returns for accuracy before signing off on their competency.
No. By using a minimum fee model we are able to charge an appropriate amount for our services. You don't need to move assets under our management, but we generally suggest that you do.
No. Creating an LLC or Trust involves legal work which we don't provide. We would work with you to assess the need for such entities, and would collaborate with the client and attorney to keep things on track.
No. As a Fee Only advisor we don't sell 'anything'. Insurance products involve kickbacks and commissions which don't fit into our philosophy of impartial advice. We do help clients assess a need for insurance, and guide them through strategies to add or reduce insurance coverage as appropriate.
We leave that to the brokers. We will use mutual funds where appropriate in a financial situation, but we will never recommend a mutual fund that involves a hidden fee or commission to the advisor. These funds tend to have higher fees that compensate brokers for selling and churning the accounts.