What’s it like working with a financial planner?
I know many people reading this blog post have never engaged a professional financial planner before, and may be a bit reticent about what to expect. So let me tell you all about working with a financial planner at CameronDowning.
We always offer a complimentary first meeting. This is so we can determine, together, if we’re a good fit to work together. We want to know all about you – not just your financial life but about your family, your ultimate goals, to whom do you want to leave money, and whether you have any special needs children who need to be provided for. We want to know how your parents doing. Could you become financially responsible for them at some point in life? Do you have an expectation of a legacy? Do you have any lawsuits pending? We need to know all of these things! Where do you hold your current assets? Are you pleased with your current advisor? If not, why not? How did it happen that you came to us? Can we thank someone for referring us?
Choose a financial plan
Once we all have a good feel for the work to be accomplished, we’ll ask you to choose the financial plan that best suits you. Our financial planning packages are all fully disclosed on our website, so any potential client can see our fees and what we will deliver in exchange for that fee. As registered investment advisers we charge a fee for our time spent doing the financial planning work, and a separate fee for asset management. There are no commissions at CameronDowning, so no conflicts of interest. We work for you. You never have to worry if we’re recommending you purchase a financial product in order to earn a commission.
Once you’ve chosen a level of service, we will sign a financial planning contract between us. The main points of the contract:
- We will complete each of the points in your financial plan package
- We request 50% of the fee upfront, and the balance upon completion
- We maintain your privacy. No one will ever know you’ve engaged our services unless you tell them.
- You’ll agree to email communication. Our email encrypts both incoming and outgoing, so you can be safe sending confidential information back and forth.
- We cannot assign this contract to anyone else. You, however, can terminate it if you wish, with a prorated fee refund.
- We’ll provide you with a list of documents that we need to do the work for you.
Once we’ve executed the contract between us, we go even deeper into the data gathering process.
We’re not just being nosy!
We’ll want you to tell us about your insurance policies. Why did you choose these policies? Do you feel they are sufficient for you? What estate planning have you done? Do you have a will in place? Have you done a revocable trust? Do have any charitable inclinations? Is there a church, synagogue, or university to whom you’d like to leave a bequest? We’ll need to see your investment account statements, as well as last year’s tax return. We’d also want to see the employee benefits available to you.
All of these things taken together really give us a picture of you as our client. Once we have all the data, we get to work on answering your questions. These can be as vague as, Am I financially healthy? or as specific as, How much more do I need to save monthly in order to have a $10,000 monthly income in retirement?
Our job here is to represent your best interests. Our tagline at CameronDowning is: We guide. You decide. In order for us to guide we really need to understand you and we need to understand your priorities. So all the questions aren’t just being nosy here – it’s that we want to do a good job for you!
On the other hand, if you are a do-it-yourself-er who’s already done a lot of research and you would like to have your own planning work validated by a professional, we’re happy to do that for you on an hourly rate.
What we deliver
We will leave you with written financial recommendations as well as a cash flow worksheet. The recommendations are specific to you. They can be as simple as you changing the beneficiary on an insurance policy. Or they can involve more complex work, i.e. see an attorney to create an LLC to own your investment property. You should generally expect three meetings with us to complete your financial plan. Given the Miami traffic, we are glad to Skype with clients, and also make ourselves available for some evening and weekend appointments.
Financial planning is both art and science. We’ve got the science part down – we’re CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, which means that we have been board-certified in our work. The art part of it is the personal relationship, because when we have you as our client we look forward to serving your best interests for years to come – not just you but your family as well.