Our firm Focus Planning Group is a Registered Investment Advisor, and we are obligated to adhere to a fiduciary standard.
Simply put, we must act in your best interest.
One may ask, “Wait a minute, isn’t every firm/advisor supposed to do that?”
It may sound crazy, but no, not every firm is obligated to act in your best interest. We know you’re thinking that this doesn’t make any sense. We agree. 🙂
For more information, check out our blog post: The DOL Fiduciary Rule: What does it mean for you?
Our firm is structured differently than most other financial planning firms. We want to make it easy, simple, and enjoyable to work with. We take important, emotionally draining, complicated topics and break them down into simple actionable steps.
How do we do this?
It is simple: We believe in educating people and working with my clients in a classroom-type setting. We are always learning (I say “we” because we always learn new ways to effectively communicate concepts and ideas from each and every one of our clients).
Make no mistake: we are not just teaching you how to invest your money, save up for that emergency fund, figure out your social security benefits, or pay off your house, protect your family, we are fully implementing for you. That is why you pay us! 🙂
When we work with clients (whether new clients or existing ones) I often say there is financial planning and investment management for the classroom, and financial planning and investment management for the “real world.”
What many classrooms and articles fail to mention is how much client psychology and emotions play on making major financial decisions. This is referred to as “behavioral finance”.
Sometimes, the best strategies for some clients aren’t best for most clients. Unique strategies need to be designed for unique situations.
We are not interested in trying to look smart by using big fancy financial jargon like so many other financial planning and investment firms designed to confuse you and make the advisor seem superior. No, we are interested in making sure you understand what the heck we are talking about and implementing the appropriate strategy. It sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?
We believe in constant communication with our clients. We make sure to communicate important information that is going on in the investment world to our clients and any financial planning topics that we think are important.
The main way we do this is by sending out newsletters. Our newsletters, however, are different than most financial planning firm newsletters.
We do not send the typical boring mundane newsletter you may be accustomed to receiving from other firms. Our newsletters are only sent out when we think there is something important to share and most of them will have something fun about what is going on in our personal lives. Our clients become more than clients: they become friends. Ironically, the most-read newsletters that we send out are about fun personal topics and not finance. Go figure. 🙂
In addition to our newsletters, we are constantly sharing important and fun information on social media. Please remember to follow and like our profiles:
We understand everyone is busy with work, family, kids, having to get that workout in, etc. We meet with clients in our Bayport, NY office at a convenient time for everyone. I also live in Bayport — this is not by accident. It makes it very easy for me to have a flexible meeting schedule to accommodate my clients and be around for my family at the same time.
I also meet with a lot of my clients virtually by taking advantage of video chat services such as Skype, FaceTime, and live meeting software such as Zoom or join.me.
I get asked often if we only work with clients in the New York area. Absolutely not! We work with clients all over the country. We have clients in New York, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, and New Hampshire, to name a few.
One of the many great features of owning my own firm is that I do not have to answer to the corporate mothership if I want to implement new technology or change something. I perform the research, the due diligence, and implement.
We make it very easy to complete paperwork and open up investment accounts with Charles Schwab by utilizing electronic signature. However, if you hate technology and still prefer paper (like my dad), no problem. We have you covered.
I should point out that as I much as I love technology, I love technology to support and enhance traditional communication values. I still prefer to speak with people over the phone, meet in person, or video chat. Nothing replaces old-fashioned values. Plus, if you read my bio, you know that I am obsessed with vinyl records. 🙂
I think the use of technology a big advantage for us as well. Many firms that embrace technology don’t want to interact, and many firms that want to interact with you the traditional way do not understand how to use technology. You get best of both worlds with us.
The first step is to figure out the appropriate amount of risk. We use a tool that is built on the academic framework called “prospect theory” that won the Nobel Peace Prize for Economics in 2002. We pinpoint your risk tolerance using math and engineer portfolios that match your expectations and emotions.
I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional with over 17 years of experience helping clients invest their money. I have extensive knowledge and expertise with mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.
I started working with clients and studying the investment markets in 1998. I have experience in investing during some of the worst market corrections: the dot-com bubble, 9/11, the financial crisis of 2007 through 2009, and the 2010 flash crash. More importantly, I have experience with working and managing clients’ behaviors during these awful times.
In addition to the risk management tool discussed earlier, our conversations and meetings will ultimately help me decide the appropriate amount of risk you should be taking.
Your past positive and negative investment experiences and your behavioral and emotional tendencies, along with the risk management tool, will all help me shape a correct allocation and choose investments.
This process is done through education, conversations, and most importantly, listening to your specific goals and needs. Not one of my clients has the same goals and desires as another. I will work with you to understand what you are really trying to accomplish and make recommendations based on your situation.
I will become as simple or as technical as you need for me to explain what I am recommending and why it is appropriate for you.
It is really quite simple. If you hire me to invest your money, construct a financial plan, help you figure out your social security benefits, or just work with me on a project, we only receive fees from our clients. We do not receive any commissions, rebates, or incentives.
Exchange-traded funds and mutual funds have something called an “expense ratio.” An expense ratio is the annual fee that all funds or ETFs charge their shareholders. While it is not a transparent transaction, it is definitely a fee that has a great effect on our portfolio return.
According to Barron’s, the average expense ratio for funds in the 2017 was 0.57%. I pay great attention to fees and Focus Planning Group’s investment models’ expense ratios are under 0.25%. I would like to point out that since individual stocks or bonds are not funds they do not have expense ratio’s.
In addition to the investment management fee you pay to my firm (see above), the custodian that we have chosen to work with (Charles Schwab) has their fees. The most common fees that my clients see are:
To put it simply, NO. We do not believe in minimums, if we like you and and want to work with you we will. 🙂 We work with clients who have zero dollars to invest to over 1 million.
The Focus Planning Group monthly investment summary is a simple way to see how all of the investment accounts we manage are performing on one page. 🙂
This report was born from my almost 18 years in the industry and hearing the same request from clients: “I just want a simple one-page report that shows me how I am doing.”
Well, here you go!
In almost all cases, the one-time planning fee is just $850.
We use a web-based financial tool that helps our clients translate their financial data into effective financial strategies and gives them a better understanding of their finances.
We build your own personal financial website and help you organize your financial life with your own digital wealth management portal.
After reading above, if you would like to chat about working together, the first step is to set up a free, 30-minute consultation. I would be happy to get to know you and your financial goals better, to help determine if it makes sense for us to work together.
Schedule a call here (or if you hate technology, you can always call me at 631-714-6869):