Frequently Asked Questions
Your questions about financial planning are valuable for making the best decisions about your financial future. We answer many of the most common questions on this page, below. Read below for information on the financial planning process, who can benefit, what "Fee Only" services means, and more.
Financial language can be unfamiliar or complex. We at Wellspring Financial Planning are especially glad to help explain any terms and answer questions you may have. In addition, for helpful explanations of financial language you'll see below, visit these resources:
Certified Financial Planners' Board of Standards: Learning Resources
Wikipedia: "Financial Plan" - "Financial Planner" - "Personal Finance"
Please tell me about the financial planning process. Financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important things: (1) An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and (2) a blueprint that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future. Life goals might include buying a home, saving for a child's education, or planning for retirement. The financial planning process consists of several distinct steps, including gathering relevant financial information, setting life goals, examining your current financial status and developing a strategy for meeting your goals given your current situation and future plans. It is important to remember that financial planning is a process . . . not an event.
Who can benefit most from your services? Any individual seeking financial peace of mind can benefit from our services. We serve people at all income levels, from all walks of life. Clients have the flexibility to work with us on either a one-time, as-needed basis or an ongoing basis. We welcome clients who simply need a one-time financial consultation or a second opinion, as well as those who need comprehensive financial planning. In addition, any corporation or organization seeking quality, unbiased financial education for their employees or members can benefit from our financial education programs.
How do you create my financial plan or blueprint? First we focus on your goals, objectives, priorities and values. For instance: the reduction of current and future income taxes may be an immediate goal, funding a quality education for your children and/or grandchildren may be an intermediate goal, and enjoying a secure financial future in your retirement years is likely to be one of your most important long-term goals. Another great goal in life for some people is creating wealth and/or leaving a legacy for your chosen beneficiaries or charities. You may already be on the road to meeting these objectives and simply need a new strategy, professional insight, or to fine-tune your plan. You may just be starting out, or you may be somewhere in between. Whatever your unique situation may be, everyone needs a periodic assessment of where they are on the road to meeting their financial goals. That’s why we do an in-depth review of your current financial situation. Next, you need to know how you can set about achieving (or continue working toward) your financial goals. By focusing on cash flow, investments, taxes, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues, savings opportunities and other general financial matters, we design a customized financial plan for you. Finally, to achieve the intended results, you must implement and monitor your plan.
What is ''Fee-Only'' financial planning and why should that be important to me? As a Fee-Only financial planner, all conflicts of interest regarding compensation are removed. Wellspring Financial Planning, LLC doesnot accept sales commissions; we work solely for our clients. Because we do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, there are no third-party relationships or outside influences to color our thinking and financial recommendations.
Do you provide only integrated financial planning? No. Although an integrated financial plan can be of great benefit, we can limit our advisory services to your specific needs, such as cash management and budgeting, investment analysis or college education funding.
I understand the benefits of working with a Fee-Only financial planner, but I might need to obtain financial products. How will I be able to do that? While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations and opinions regarding the purchase of the various financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy or a new mortgage, invest into a portfolio of mutual funds, or find an estate planning attorney or tax professional, we can direct you to the resources you need and help make sure these additional needs are met. If you need additional help, we can assist you in implementing your plan and setting up your accounts. My spouse and I are just beginning to build for our financial future. There is so much to learn! We need help and guidance to get started. Will you accept us as clients? Yes. Some firms have income levels and/or net worth minimums but we realize that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels, and all walks of life. Remember, ''You don't have to have a fortune to start building one.'' Call us today and let's get started.
I’m in charge of the retirement plans and employee benefits at my organization. I would like to increase the number of employees who participate in our benefit programs. How can you help us? Education is key in building employee participation. We can help your employees understand the benefits of your programs. Please call to discuss your specific needs. We can custom-build an educational program for your company.
What types of securities do you provide advice for? We provide advice for all types of securities, including mutual funds, stocks (as they relate to your portfolio holdings), bonds, bank deposits, variable and fixed annuities. We also provide advice on mortgages, budgeting and cash flow issues, 401(k), 403(b) and other retirement programs, stock options, life and disability insurance, etc. If it has to do with money and finances, we can provide counseling, guidance and/or resources for you.
If I hire you to develop my financial plan, am I obligated to purchase the recommended products? Absolutely not. We will offer recommendations which, in our professional opinion will meet your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to purchase them. In today’s competitive market, it makes sense to shop around for the best available product or service. For instance, if you need to obtain a life insurance or disability policy, we will suggest the kind of policy, which riders and what amounts may be best for you. We will then direct you to a choice of companies that can provide a quality product at competitive prices for you. If you wish, we can help you purchase investments and/or set up your accounts with a third-party custodian such as a discount broker.
Tell me about your investment philosophy. As financial planners and investment consultants, we believe in the following fundamental principals with regard to designing an investment portfolio and making specific recommendations: The purpose of a client’s investment portfolio is to fund current and/or future financial objectives. The design of the portfolio must take into account the client’s financial objectives, tolerance for risk, needs for current income or liquidity, and special considerations such as income and estate taxes. The important thing to remember is that no one can predict the future. It is difference of opinion that makes a market. Investment and economic ''experts'' provided with the same information often come to different conclusions. We do not suggest that we can, or that any of the money or mutual fund managers that we recommend, will make the correct decision every time. We do believe, however, that studying the historic trends and relationships of investment classes and the philosophies and approaches of successful investment managers can provide valuable insight. The appropriate allocation of investment assets for your goals and risk tolerance is the most important component in developing an investment portfolio. We believe that having a diversified, well-balanced portfolio, following long-term buy-and-hold strategies, and having patience, will increase the likelihood that one will achieve their long-term financial objectives.
How do you select investments for a client? Before we recommend any investment, we consider the current economic conditions, the outlook for that asset class or type of security and how this investment fits within your portfolio given your objectives and tolerance for risk. For equity investments, we focus primarily on the philosophies, experience and track record of the management team. With fixed income investments, we look for the best yield available for a given quality of security. We strive to obtain the most appropriate investment vehicles to meet your objectives, while being very conscious of total expenses and risk exposure.
What if I am not interested in Socially Responsible Investing? Many of our clients are not. We work with a broad range of clients with diverse values, objectives and risk tolerances. Socially Responsible Investing is one of the services we offer, not the focus of our work.
How do you price your financial planning services? We charge an hourly fee for the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations and implementation assistance (if appropriate).
How much will my financial plan cost? Financial planning fees are determined on a project basis; the total fee for a financial plan will vary from client to client based on the specific needs and complexity of your situation. An estimate is provided after the Get Acquainted Meeting, when your personal needs are fully identified.
Are your fees tax deductible? Yes. Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A. It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return.
Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end? The actual engagement of Wellspring's services may end, but the majority of our clients choose to stay in touch with us and return for additional advice as the need arises. Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we offer ongoing services, periodic reviews and day-to-day consultation as requested and/or needed.
How can I get started? See our invitation for a no obligation "get acquainted" meeting on the Get Started page.
Photo ©Scott Kyle, used with permission.