Financial Counseling and Education

Financial Planning

Financial Planning

I offer financial planning through a series of face-to-face working sessions. In these meetings we analyze cash flow, assess investment allocation, discuss insurance needs, set savings targets for various future goals, such as retirement or education.

In general, the process takes a series of 3 - 4 meetings, with meetings generally lasting 1 - 2 hours. Clients are very much a part of the process. In fact, you usually have some “homework” between meetings.

I charge by the hour, $160 per hour for the time we are in the meetings. This fee is payable at the end of each meeting. There is no other charge for this service, no commissions, no percentage of assets, no other hidden fee.

Follow-up                To top

Once the series of financial planning meetings is over and you head off to put the decisions you’ve made into actions, what happens next? I offer three different types of follow-up. You can choose the approach that works for you.

1. The As-Needed Update and Review

In this model you decide when it is time to update and review your planning. For many clients, checking in once a year seems ideal. I will send out a reminder when it has been a year, but you'll decide when and whether there's any need to meet. When we do meet, you'll need to bring the materials necessary for us to update all the numbers, so that we can assess the current situation.

2. Coaching
Some clients choose a brief coaching program as a form of follow-up to the financial planning. This is especially appropriate for clients who feel they may be stuck in a pattern that will keep them from successfully implementing the action steps we outlined in the financial planning. See Coaching.

3. On-going Comprehensive Financial Planning

For those who would like the assurance of regular updates and reviews of their comprehensive financial planning, we set up routine meetings every six months. The agenda for each meeting is established in advance. A typical pattern is taxes, liquidity needs, cash-flow, gifting, and debt-management in the spring meeting, and retirement plans, investments, estate plans, insurance, real estate, and long-term projections in the fall meeting. This model works well for clients who feel important issues may get overlooked if the follow-up is left to the as-needed model.

Long-Distance Financial Planning                To top

Because the financial planning process is built around face-to-face working sessions in my office, nearly all my clients come from the greater Boston area, with a few driving in from western Massachusetts and neighboring states. Although working face-to-face in this way has many advantages, it is possible to do the financial planning long-distance, relying on phone, fax, mail and email. We hold a series of telephone appointments, sending the materials needed to support the discussion in advance of each phone appointment. The charge for this service is $120 per hour. However, unlike the face-to-face meetings, the telephone time generally represents about 50% of the time I spend, with the preparation of materials representing the other 50%.

About Formal, Written Financial Plans          To top

Processing the financial planning issues face-to-face seems to work well for nearly all my clients. Strategies are roughed out, steps to take are outlined. Questions can be asked, concepts explained, and conflicting opinions can be worked through. What the client has on paper at the end is hand-written notes and various graphs and charts, rather than printed, bound document called a “financial plan.” It is more of a process than a product.

Occasionally, clients want the formal, written financial plan. Sometimes this is because the financial issues simply are more complicated, and much more detailed research and in-depth calculations are required. Sometimes it is a matter of the client’s style; they prefer to read (and re-read) a written document to be sure they understand. If we agree to do a formal, written plan, then generally we hold three meetings: one to gather data, the second to confirm the data and check the assumptions I’m using, and the third to present to financial plan. The fee for this service is $120 per hour. It usually takes somewhere between 10 and 35 hours, though of course this varies with the complexity of the financial situation.

Investment Advice                To top

I don't manage investments for clients. However, I am a Registered Investment Adviser with the state of Massachusetts. (For further information, contact the Massachusetts Securities Division, 617-727-3548.) Investment advice is naturally a part of any financial planning.

My investment philosophy is based on the time-honored values of diversification, low expenses, and tax-efficiency. Above all, the risk level should be appropriate to the client's circumstances. For this reason, a good understanding of liquidity needs, investment time-frame, job security and insurance protection is needed before any investment advice is possible.

My first focus is to help clients assess their asset allocation. When appropriate I guide clients through a search for no-load mutual funds that match their allocation needs. For clients who want it, I help with finding socially responsible investment choices that align with the client's values. In many cases, I help clients with issues like overlapping funds, multiple accounts and simplifying paper work. Sometimes clients need help understanding the statements they get from their money managers or trustees.

I do not advise on individual stocks and bonds. I do not sell any investment products, nor do I receive any commissions or fees from any broker-dealers or any providers of financial products.

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