Our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, ‘FAQs’, are broken out into three categories. Click on any of the three below to find the answers you’re looking for:
If you have a question not covered below, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you accepting new clients?
ABSOLUTELY!!! Yet because we are so committed to serving the needs of our existing clients, we will never cold call or actively solicit you. We believe that when you are ready for a financial planning discussion you should reach out to us. We are only looking to establish life-long relationships with clients, and as such we believe that you should seek a firm that exudes experience, integrity and a style that matches your needs.
Where do you meet with your clients?
All appointments are scheduled in our office. Our office hours are from 8:30am to 5:00pm weekdays. We have elected to refrain from evening and weekend appointments as we believe that it is incumbent upon us to be a model of work/life balance. Thus, we want to show that it is possible to work hard during the day, and have time with our family as well.
How do I schedule an initial consultation?
A phone call to our office is best. It is usually best to speak briefly with one of our CFP professionals prior to scheduling your actual initial interview so that we can allot the appropriate time for your visit. Your initial consultation will last anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. The disclosure kit we send you will include what you need to bring to our meeting.
What should I expect from an initial consultation?
You can expect our meeting to be informal yet focused. We will spend much of the “getting to know you” and you getting to know us, and all that our firm has to offer. During our meeting, we will seek to understand your unique goals and objectives by asking questions that cause you to think about “money” in ways you may have never thought before. Of course, we will also briefly review details pertaining to your assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe) and your insurance (what protects you and your family from risks).
What can I expect at the conclusion of an initial consultation?
At the conclusion of our meeting, we will:
- Review your goals and objectives — We want to be sure we heard you correctly
- Review our process for preparing a financial plan — After all you should know what you are buying
- Review our costs — We charge a financial planning fee (minimum $2,500) to prepare a custom analysis, executive summary letter and recommendations
- Create a record of our conversation — Following our initial meeting, we will dictate a memo to your file so that we can remember all of the specific facts pertaining to your situation.
- We will send you a personalized thank you letter – Our thank you letter restates the goals and objectives we discussed in our meeting along with any other information we need to gather from you. This may include:
- You signature on our Financial Planning Agreement
- Actual statements from various financial institutions
- Other items of importance.
What can you send me about your firm?
Our comprehensive disclosure kit will provide you with a complete overview of our firm’s background, our services, our experience and, of course, how to prepare for a complimentary consultation with us. Click here or call us at 978-531-8108.
How do you define Financial Planning?
We believe that if you ask twenty different people you’ll get twenty different definitions about how to describe financial planning. Unfortunately, if you ask twenty financial planners the same question, it’s likely that you’ll get another set of different answers too.
At Freedman Financial we are dedicated to helping our clients identify whether they are receiving financial planning services or not. We simply call it “the Formula for Financial Planning”
We believe that Financial Planning “done right” needs to include conversations around your “feelings” about money issues as much as it includes the “facts” that support them. In addition, conversations around “peace of mind” issues such as protecting loved ones, protecting your income and protecting your legacy are critical elements that need to be woven into the planning conversation.
What is the Formula for Financial Planning?
Our formula of financial planning is as follows:
We believe that in order for someone to say they received financial planning, the client must feel confident that their planner:
- Asked questions about their Goals, Challenges and Successes (We call this Discovery)
- Explored how effectively the client has elected to protect their family, their health, their life and their legacy. (We call this Capital Protection)
- Discussed issues that impact the quantitative elements of their financial life with particular attention to how changes in cash flow, market volatility, inflation and other factors will impact the client’s expectations. (We call this Wealth Management)
What is eMoney?
eMoney is our state of the art, fully integrated financial planning software system. All clients who, after completing a financial plan, maintain advisory accounts are eligible to participate in our single-access point, integrated software. This web-based, highly secure solution allows clients to view their overall net worth on a single page, while having their financial data updated automatically on a daily basis. Access to investment reports, financial planning progress, realized gain and loss statements and snapshots of your insurance and liabilities are accessible at your fingertips.
In addition, clients have the opportunity to upload private documents such as wills, trusts, insurance policies, deeds and more to your own secured on-line vault.
What goes into the construction of a Financial Plan?
Each client relationship is unique, yet in general, we first construct a comprehensive Net-Worth Statement that details assets and liabilities as well as ownership of each item. We may also prepare a cash flow statement and other supporting schedules. We do this to ensure that our analysis is based on our collective understanding that your “financial snapshot” is accurate; after all “garbage in is garbage out”.
Your net worth will be sent to you for your review prior to us beginning any detailed analysis.
Upon receipt of your approval of the net worth statement, we will begin our comprehensive analysis which will include a review of (but not limited to):
- Previous Tax Returns
- Pay Stubs
- Benefits Booklets
- Investment, Retirement and Bank Statements
- Insurance Contracts
- Deeds to Property
- Any and all outstanding debts, including:
- Equity Loans
- Credit Cards
- Student Loans
- Personal Loans
- Estate Planning Documents such as:
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Proxies
We recognize that every individual’s situation is unique and it is critical that we understand the mechanics behind each component of your financial life before proposing any recommendations.
Step #4: Continued Analysis
During the analysis phase, we will identify your strengths and your points of vulnerability. We will make individual comments on particular areas of your situation.
In addition, we will also develop models, projections and “what-if” scenarios that showcase how likely you are to achieve your personal goals.
Step #5: Recommendations
Our financial plan includes relevant recommendations that address your point of vulnerability and offer strategies (which you can implement on your own) to help you achieve your goals.IMPORTANT — You are under no obligation to implement any financial planning strategy through our office. As Registered Investment Advisor Representatives with the State of Massachusetts, we are obligated to deliver an objective representation of your financial situation and empower you with a road map that can be implemented anywhere you see fit.
Step #6: The Financial Planning Presentation
All financial plans are presented in our office. You should budget between 1 and 2 hours for our highly interactive presentation. Many of our strategies are presented through our State of the Art WealthVision software program which allows us to play “what if” scenarios while we collectively discuss your situation. We utilize a combination of financial planning software, spreadsheets, research and our personal experiences as tools that guide us towards our recommendations.
Step #7: Implementation
At the conclusion of our financial planning presentation you will be provided with an action plan. This document will serve as a timeline and guide that prioritizes items of importance and issues you need to consider.
Many clients often have questions about how our investment advisory services work.
Are your really committed to Financial Planning once assets are under your management?
Absolutely!!!! As an advisory client, we are committed to delivering the same depth of analysis and reporting that we developed for your initial financial plan. On an ongoing basis, we will continue to update the progress of your goals and make recommendations as needed. In addition, our client’s continuously turn to us for advice on the following areas:
- Advice and analysis on large purchase considerations such as a home, boat or car. In fact, we’ve been known to visit auto dealerships with many of our widowed and single clients so that the “sales” process doesn’t seem so daunting.
- Advice and analysis on refinancing and mortgages.
- Advice on reallocation and review of retirement plans held with your current employer.
- Analysis of corporate benefits such as stock options, deferred compensation plans, executive bonus plans, etc.
- Ongoing review of your homeowners, automobile, and umbrella policies.
- Continued analysis of Life, Disability and Long Term Care Insurance.
- Ongoing conversations pertaining to estate issues such as legacy planning, tax planning charitable giving and more.
I just want help with my investment portfolio. Will you help me?
Sorry, we won’t do that. We simply don’t believe that it is possible to place the interests of our clients first without initially capturing both a snapshot of their financial well-being, as well as a clear understanding of their financial goals and objectives. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed too many advisors focus first on YOUR INVESTMENTS before ever considering how they weave into your overall financial circumstances. We believe this approach is quite dangerous, and oftentimes leads to changes to your portfolio that could have been avoided had the advisor better known your overall objectives first.
Do I continue to pay an annual financial planning fee if I use your Investment Advisory Services?
Clients who elect to hire our firm as Investment Advisory Representatives, after the completion and presentation of an objective financial planning analysis, will continue to receive ongoing updates, regular monitoring and periodic reviews that address their overall financial planning objectives. We do not accept investment advisory clients without first knowing our client’s overall financial situation. This allows us to truly place the interests of our client’s first and align with our Code of Ethics as Certified Financial Planner Professionals.
What is your research process?
Many clients ask us how we’re able to manage so much money AND maintain such personal relationships with our clients. We are able to do it because of the relationships we maintain with several independent research organizations including Morningstar, Standard & Poors and LPL Financial to name a few.
Our research process allows us to custom construct portfolios that can include client legacy positions (investments you already own) along with no-load, institutional and load-waived funds. In addition, we can include exchange traded funds, stocks, and individual bonds.
As independent representatives, we are free to select from companies that best serve our client’s interests.
How often are portfolios reviewed?
Currently we manage almost $300 million in advisory accounts, for approximately 400 households. While each client portfolio is individually constructed, there are about 80 securities that are frequently followed in many client accounts. Each day, our office review data and nuances that impact these securities and their corresponding competitors.
How often will you look at my portfolio?
At least once per year, your portfolio is independently examined for rebalancing considerations, tax strategies, and continued alignment to your overall investment objective. Throughout the year, your portfolio may experience changes in allocation or holdings as we consider new additions, replacements or removals of funds from client portfolios.
Will you provide performance reporting on investments you manage?
Performance of your investment account is maintained from the date the first dollar is deposited into your account. Each calendar quarter you will receive a performance report of your portfolio. We can also produce performance reports for anytime period you’d like and measure your account against several benchmarks.
What happens if there is a tax liability when a fund is sold?
In the event, you may experience a significant tax liability due to a sale of a security, we will contact you directly to discuss strategies and alternatives. We work very hard to ensure that tax management plays a significant role in the continued supervision of your investment portfolio.
Tax Treatment of Advisory Fees
Unlike commissions and brokerage fees, your advisory fees are potentially deductible if they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. You should consult with your accountant to determine whether you could benefit from this tax savings.
How often do you meet with your clients?
At Freedman Financial the number of meetings/reviews is left to the discretion of our clients. Oftentimes we find that clients prefer to meet 2-3 times during the first year, and then 1-2 times in years that follow. Our contact management system ensures that we schedule an appointment with you at least annually so that we can both review your personal financial situation, and also learn about changes that may have occurred in your life.
What can I expect during a client review meeting?
We believe that client review meetings are equally as important as the first meeting we ever held with you. You can expect to have us start with the “Financial Planning Formula”. We’ll be asking questions about any events that have changed in your life, any financial issues that have caused you to save, spend, or earn more money. Hopefully all of your financial information will be aggregated through our WealthVision program by your first review meeting. This will allow us to have up-to-date information on all aspects of your financial life and we can be prepared to offer thoughts and feedback to you. In addition, we will review the overall asset allocation, risk tolerance, performance and projections designed to help you achieve your goals. Most clients tell us that each time they visit the office they not only learn something more about their personal financial situation, but they wish they had begun a relationship with us much sooner.
Do you prepare tax returns?
We don’t prepare taxes because we want to be dedicated all year round to your financial planning needs. We are, however, very skilled at reviewing your existing tax return and offering an analysis with recommendations. As changes occur in your financial life, it is important to compare and contrast the impact taxes will have on these decisions. By utilizing your previous year’s tax return, we can run what-if scenarios on our planning software and thus create pro-forma tax statements that can better prepare you for the future.