We believe strongly in transparency and being “up front” with our clients. In that spirit, the following questions are ones we recommend you ask any financial advisor you may entrust with your funds.
Are your recommendations truly in my best interest?
Imagine going to get the oil changed in your car and the mechanic insists that you need new tires. Your current tires look fine to you, but the mechanic insists that new tires are necessary. Later you discover that the mechanic was paid extra to promote that particular brand of tire, and received a commission every time those tires were sold at the shop.
This is similar to how many financial “advisors” work: like sales people. Many advisors have agreements with investment companies where the investment company will pay the advisor or the advisor’s firm each time they buy those investments for their clients. These investments might not be the best fit for the client, but the advisor recommends those investments for their clients because of the compensation the advisor receives. This is true even for some firms who claim to be a fiduciary: they may act as a fiduciary when developing your financial plan but then not act as a fiduciary when selecting your investments.
At our firm, we are a fiduciary 100% of the time: when developing your plan, when recommending investments … at all times. We take our fiduciary duty very seriously. We receive no form of compensation from any investment company or anyone else; the only fee we receive is the fees we receive from our clients.
Our fiduciary duty is a legal obligation we have chosen to be held to because we believe it is the right thing to do. We place the client’s interest above our own. The investments we use in our client accounts are the same investments we use in our personal accounts and the accounts of our immediate family members.
Do you have the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully manage investments and do financial planning?
Many financial advisors lack formal education in finance, which is critical to successfully manage investments and understand complex financial markets.
Jason T. Micheli, PhD has a degree in finance from a top university, and has taken the rigorous steps to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. Jason began working in the finance industry in 2002 at a large, multi-national wealth management firm.
How many clients do you serve and how does their situation compare to mine?
We currently serve approximately 70 families across the United States. We have chosen to limit the size of our practice to ensure every client receives the service they require to achieve their financial goals.
The majority of our clients are retired, or close to it, and their investments range from approximately $100,000 to $3,000,000.
How will we communicate?
Our office door is always open, so to speak. Anytime a client wants to discuss their situation or have us walk through their investments, we are happy to do so. We also hold formal reviews with clients 1-2 times annually.
Client education is a priority for our firm. It is important to us that our clients understand as much about our investment process as they want to know.
Each month our clients receive a statement with details regarding the activity and performance of their accounts.
What will be my total investment expense, how much will you be compensated, and where can I see this in writing?
As detailed in our client agreement, each quarter we deduct a fee equal to 0.50% (or less) directly from the accounts under our management. This deduction is detailed in the quarterly statement we provide to every client. To put this fee in perspective, most days the stock market moves more than 0.25%.
Many of the investment funds we use have an internal expense of less than 0.10% annually. That expense is almost half the industry average. Some investment funds we use have a higher internal expense. When using funds with higher internal expenses it is because we believe that the performance of that fund justifies the higher expense.
Where do you keep my money and how can I see it?
For your convenience and safety, Financial Growth Management, Inc. uses three custodian banks as the custodian for our client assets: Charles Schwab, E*Trade, and Nationwide. As a custodian, these three firms hold your funds and provides reporting to you and the IRS. Your accounts can be viewed at any time through your client portal.