In order to provide you with a clear idea of the services I provide, here are some common questions I am asked, followed by my answers. I encourage you to direct any additional questions to me here.
How is Benchmark different from other wealth management firms?
Well, there are many reasons, but here's a few:
I am completely independent and totally objective.
I am the owner. My name is on the door. Your long-term success is key to my long-term success.
With decades of experience, my capabilities are extensive. As a fiduciary, I put your best interests first. Always.
What is a fiduciary?
A fiduciary is ethically required to put your interests above all else. It is essential to everything that I do. I wouldn't have it any other way.
What types of clients do you work with?
Basically, my clients have the following things in common:
They enjoy the close personal relationship I have with them.
They appreciate smart solutions to their most complex financial needs.
They are delegators. Working with me provides the time to pursue other things they enjoy doing.
Do I really need a wealth management firm?
I think so. My planning and investing expertise provides you with the discipline to help reach your goals, along with much needed stress-relief. I love what I do, and offer value to my clients everyday.
Do I need to have your firm manage my investment portfolio in order to work with you?
While most of my clients hire me to manage their investment portfolios, it is not required. Many people have their money invested in a 401k plan, a business, real estate, prefer to handle their own investments, or just need a second opinion. In these situations, I offer financial consulting services on either a periodic or ongoing basis. This flexibility is a terrific advantage in helping me work with you.
Do you only manage investment portfolios? Or do you provide advice on other financial and planning issues?
I provide investment portfolio management and customized, comprehensive financial consulting services. This means that along with managing your investment portfolio, I handle other issues such as your retirement planning, retirement income strategies, taxes, college planning, life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance coverage, charitable giving and estate planning. As a matter of course, I advise my clients on some or all of these planning issues.
What is your investment philosophy?
My philosophy is practical and straight-forward:
I don't believe in market timing (or fortune tellers).
My approach is disciplined, and long term. I build portfolios with a sharp focus on asset allocation, diversification, tax-efficiency and low costs. I believe that controlling costs and taxes are key to help improve investment returns.
There is only one you, and I spend a great deal of time upfront to learn about you. Each client portfolio is customized and managed individually to reflect your specific goals, objectives, risk tolerance and unique circumstances.
How do you get paid? Do you have conflicts of interest?
I am paid for my advice. It's just that simple. My fees are transparent and in writing. I do not get paid for selling lousy, expensive products to you. I don't participate in any revenue-sharing or referral programs, either. My business model was built to minimize any conflicts of interest, and I try my absolute best to do so.
What are your fees?
As a small firm, I don’t need to set high fees to cover high overhead expenses like larger firms do. I do not receive any incentives, so I can always act with your best interests in mind. Before working together, we will review your situation and agree on a fair fee, which will be reflected in our agreement.
Fees for investment advisory services are determined based upon several factors including the amount of assets placed under management, account composition and the complexity of your individual needs. Financial consulting services are typically included for investment advisory clients. In most cases, the total cost for investment advisory services is below the industry average.
Depending upon your needs, stand-alone financial consulting services are offered either on a periodic or ongoing basis. Financial consulting fees are billed hourly or as a fixed fee.
How do your fees compare to what I am paying now?
It’s not very easy to find out what you are paying to your bank, broker or insurance agent. You might even hear that you are not paying anything. Not true.
Hidden fees are quite common, but unfortunately, are not fully disclosed, or are hidden in long documents. Some examples are “loads”, “wrap fees” and “12b-1 fees”.
Some advisors utilize third-party managers to manage your portfolio. This means you pay a fee to your advisor and to the third party manager. Also, you may be charged an additional fee for planning.
Brokerage firms and insurance agents receive commissions that are built into the products they sell you. You may not see or hear about the fees, but they are certainly there.
Many advisory firms have rigid asset-based fee schedules that charge the same fee to a large account as they do for a much smaller account. While it often doesn’t require much more time to manage the large account, the difference in fees paid is substantial.
How do you keep in touch?
I believe that good communication is essential. In addition to regularly scheduled review meetings, I am always available to meet or talk with you. I also provide you with timely information via email and my blog. In addition, you have 24/7 access to your secure Client Portal, and to your investment accounts held at my firm’s third party custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional. Keeping you well-informed is a key part of everything I do.
How do I get started?
It’s simple. First, we schedule a time to discuss your needs, and to see if we have a good fit. If you decide to move forward, I will send you a Prospective Client Packet. The packet includes some informational documents and a Confidential Profile. The profile asks you for some basic information about your finances, goals and objectives. Next, we schedule some time to discuss your needs in more detail, so I can provide you with an idea about fees, and next steps. You can take as long as you need to think about it. When you are ready, we will begin planning.