To thoroughly answer your questions, we have compiled questions from many checklists including the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ Checklist for Interviewing a Financial Planner, http://www.cfp.net/Learn/Checklist.asp and the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP.org. We hope these questions and answers will help you determine if working with Thomas Financial Associates is right for you.
What makes Thomas Financial Associates different from other firms?
Thomas Financial Associates has a proven track record of coordinating and managing all aspects of our client’s financial situation. Our unique tax and financial planning background ensures that both long and short-term tax impacts are considered with every planning recommendation. By centralizing and coordinating your financial team we seek to help simplify your finances leaving you more time to enjoy your life.
The result of our team approach is a positive collaboration of effort. You can feel confident knowing that our professionals are 100% dedicated to helping you pursue your goals and dreams.
Are you accepting new clients?
Yes, and yet because we are committed to serving the needs of our existing clients we will only accept a limited number of new clients each year. We are only looking to establish life-long relationships with clients, and as such, we believe that you should seek a firm that stands squarely on experience, integrity and an approach that matches your needs.
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 often times leads to negative changes to your portfolio that could have been avoided had the advisor better known your overall objectives first.
What can you send me about your firm?
Our comprehensive information packet will provide you with a complete overview of our firm’s background, our services, experience and, of course, how to prepare for a complimentary consultation with us. Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 508-366-0181 to request an information packet.
How do I schedule an initial consultation?
We encourage you to call our office if you’d like to learn more about or firm or schedule a complimentary consultation. Prior to your first meeting we ask that you take a few minutes to complete our Confidential Personal & Financial Profile. This preliminary financial summary is designed to help us take inventory and assign realistic values to your personal assets and liabilities. It is the essential first step in organizing a sensible financial plan for your future. Whether or not you decide to become a client, all of the information that we gather is kept completely confidential.
We will contact you to schedule an initial appointment as soon as we have a copy of your completed profile.
Where do you meet with your clients?
All appointments are scheduled in our office. Our office hours are 8:30am to 5:00pm daily. We also have a limited number of evening and weekend appointments available.
What should I expect from my initial consultation?
Our first meeting is always a relaxed introduction to our firm and our approach. We know that conversations about money are difficult and we’ll do our best to address any and all of your questions.
We will spend some time discussing the financial planning process, and the ways that it can help you mitigate the effects of critical financial events in your life. Then we will turn our attention to your goals — what’s important to you? We’ll also review your Confidential Personal and Financial Profile and discuss what you’d like to gain as a result of the financial planning process.
What can I expect at the conclusion of my initial consultation?
After the first meeting we’ll both decide whether there is a fit, and then decide in what direction we want to proceed. If we both agree that our firm can potentially add substantial value to your future, we will send you a letter which restates the goals and objectives we discussed in our meeting along with our comprehensive Wealth Plan Workbook and our document Request checklist. This information will be used to create an up-to-date picture of your current financial situation and will form the basis for our planning recommendations.
Are you really committed to Financial Planning once I hire you as my Financial Advisor?
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 clients first and honor our Code of Ethics as Certified Financial Planner Professionals. Clients, who elect to hire our firm's LPL 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.
At least twice a year we will personally meet with you to review your investments and update your financial plan. Our annual planning fee allows you to call us any time during the year without fear of additional hourly fees. We want you to feel comfortable picking up the telephone and letting us know whenever you have a question. Investment management is only one aspect of a financial plan and we are committed to making sure that all areas of your plan are kept up-to-date and monitored.
Do I continue to pay an annual financial planning fee if I use your Investment Advisory Services?
Our firm utilizes different planning fees based on the services provided to our clients, which include: -Financial planning fee: Our annual planning fee allows you to call us any time during the year without fear of additional hourly fees. We want you to feel comfortable picking up the telephone and letting us know whenever you have a question. - Wealth Plan Maintenance fee: This allows us to continue providing objective financial advice throughout the year. This fee may be waived if the client meets certain investment minimums. - Tax planning fee: This fee allows us to continue providing strategic tax planning advice throughout the year. This fee may be waived if the client meets certain investment minimums.
The Annual Wealth Plan Maintenance Fee includes:
- Maintenance and upkeep of your personal financial web page
- Updates of your manually entered asset values
- Maintenance and storage of current documents in your personal on-line vault
- Annual Wealth Planning meetings and scheduled check-ups
- Unlimited access to your Advisor and his resources.
- A wide array of value added services.
How do you charge for other products and services?
The Financial Consultants with Thomas Financial Associates serve their clients in a variety of ways and are compensated based on the type of service provided. For investment advisory accounts, a fee based compensation structure is used. For our investment accounts, this means the advisor’s compensation is based on a set percentage of the client’s assets instead of on commissions. This is in contrast to commission-based investment, in which the advisor makes money based on the amount of trades made or the amount of products sold to the client. The potential benefit of Fee Based compensation is the advisor’s interests are considered to be more in line with those of the investor.
After your wealth plan is completed, our recommendations identify implementation strategies which may include products and/or services we also offer access to through various channels. Financial consultants may receive fee-based compensation when offering certain services, like financial planning, as described previously. When using certain products, though, financial consultants compensation may be commission-based. You will never pay both a fee and a commission for a single service or product. Commission products include but are not limited to life insurance, long-term care insurance and annuities. Recommending commission based products or services may be considered a conflict of interest. However, we at Thomas Financial Associates are professionals committed to only making recommendations that we feel are in your best interest. By following our recommendations and purchasing insurance products through Thomas Financial Associates, we are able to maintain the high level of service to which you will become accustomed.
What is your research process?
Many clients ask us how we’re able to service our clients investments AND maintain such personal relationships with our clients. We are able to do it because the relationships we maintain with LPL Financial’s Research Department. Comprised of over 40 independent analysts, economists, strategists and Chartered Financial Analysts, we rely on their independent assessments of the global economic environment as a baseline for our client portfolio construction.
LPL Financial’s Research Department offers recommendations and insights on specific securities. While we regularly incorporate our own firm’s perspective and judgment on which investments to utilize in a client portfolio, it is to our clients’ benefit to have a full-time research department supporting our practice.
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.
Our affiliation with LPL, the largest independent broker/dealer in the USA (as reported in Financial Planning Magazine - June 1996-2016, based on total revenues), grants us access to multitudes of insurance carriers, annuity companies, cash management tools, and more. As independent representatives we are free to select from companies that best serve our client’s interests.
How often are portfolios reviewed?
While each client portfolio is individually constructed, there are about 50 securities that frequently appear in many client accounts. Each day, both LPL’s research department and our office review data and nuances that impact these securities and their corresponding competitors.
How often will you look at my portfolio?
At least twice per year, your portfolio is independently examined for rebalancing considerations, tax strategies, and continued alignment to your overall investment objectives. 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 is WealthVision?
WealthVision is our state of the art, fully integrated financial planning software system. After completing a financial plan, all clients who maintain advisory accounts, are eligible to participate in our single-access point, integrated software. WealthVision is an integrated approach to financial planning.
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 computer 24/7.
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 happens if there is a tax liability when an investment is sold?
In the event you 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. Please speak with your tax advisor to discuss your specific situation. - This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice.
How often do you meet with your clients?
At Thomas Financial Associates we encourage our clients to meet with us in person at least twice a year. Often times we find that clients prefer to meet 3 - 4 times during the first year, and then 2 - 3 times in years that follow. Our contact management system ensures that we schedule an appointment with you at least twice a year so we can both review your personal financial situation, and also learn about changes that may have occurred in your life.
What financial planning designation(s) or certification(s) do you hold?
Kelly holds his Certified Public Accountant (CPA®) designation and is a member of both the Massachusetts Society of CPA’s, where he served on their Personal Financial Planning committee, and the American Institute of CPA’s, where he served on their Tax Committee. Kelly earned his Certified Financial Planner license in November of 1999 and is a member of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Kelly’s securities registrations includes the Series 7, 65 and 63 held through LPL Financial in addition to his insurance license.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA®)
The CPA® designation is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to accountants who pass the AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination and satisfy the work experience and statutory and licensing requirements of the state(s) in which they practice.
Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
The PFS credential is a financial planning designation awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). A CPA® is granted the PFS designation only after demonstrating experience in personal financial planning services and meeting additional accreditation requirements established by AICPA. Every three years, all CPA/PFS must meet reaccreditation requirements to maintain their right to use the accreditation.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)
The CFP® and certification marks are financial planning credentials awarded by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) to individuals who meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements.
The chart below lists Kelly’s designations and briefly explains the education and expertise each signifies
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
A financial planner who has completed study and passed examinations in risk management, investments, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. Minimum 3 years’ experience continues to update knowledge in the field, and adhere to prescribed code of ethics.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
State Boards of Accountancy for CPA license
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
An experienced accountant who has met education, statutory, and licensing requirements of the state in which he or she resides.
Continuing Education: 120 hours every 3 years.
Personal Financial Planning Specialist
Personal Financial Planning Center
A CPA who has passed a financial planning exam and offers a broad range of personal financial services may obtain the CPA/PFS.
Continuing Education: Combined total of 60 PFS points in personal financial planning business experience and qualified “life-long learning” activities every 3 years.