Frequently Asked Questions by Prospective Clients
Q. what is your ideal client?
Great question. I have an ideal client profile which I will share here but I will summarize that most of my clients are building success, and tend to be busy in their chosen endeavors - which is why they often see the value in delegating things like financial planning to a competent professional.
Here is the detailed version:
“Linchpins”: Our clients are often the linchpin for their families and communities. They are serious and committed about their desire to accomplish their goals - both for themselves and the people they care about - and they realize that achieving those goals requires both money and planning.
Optimistic and Simply Awesome: Our clients have good attitudes and look forward to overcoming obstacles. They are simply nice people to be around.
Responsible: As the go-to people in their family, they understand that catastrophic financial mistakes and unnecessary risk exposure jeopardizes more than their financial security. It also affects the family they care for, the charities they help, and the community they serve.
Realistic: Our clients want to hear the truth from us regarding their financial situation no matter what. Our clients are also responsible and intellectually mature, and do not watch or listen to *insert favorite media channel here* all day nor do they let market swings affect their long term goal planning.
Grateful for Our Work Together: Our clients appreciate advice and guidance. Due to the high level of client interaction and attention (see our 10 Client Deliverables), we are most financially appropriate for clients with a net worth over $1M or those who will be there within 5 years. We do have a younger client "startup" program -please inquire about details.
Able to Enjoy Simplicity & Organization: Our clients enjoy the simplicity and freedom that comes from having all of their financial affairs well organized under the watchful eye of a single comprehensive advisor with a simple fee structure.
Truly Focused on What’s Important: Our community of clients are wise stewards of their most valuable asset - Their Time. By delegating their financial affairs to us, they can focus their valuable time and energy on the things in life that are more important to them than money - the things that CAN NOT be delegated.
Q. What do you charge?
Our consulting fee for developing a financial strategy is a simple flat fee of $4,500 which comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. For long term client relationships, where we provide our Client Community 10 Deliverables and strive to eliminate financial concerns from your life, our fee is a flat retainer fee billed monthly. If you'd like complete details on our service offerings and fees, go to our services pages:
Note: we do not charge trading commissions and earn no incentives to "trade" your account.
Q. what is my risk if i get involved with you?
Nothing. Our process has so many check points built in where you get a lot for no cost, it's ridiculous. First, we offer an initial conversation - typically via phone, via video call or sometimes in person - which is FREE. You will likely get value from that. In fact if you don't, then stop right there and your only risk was 20-60 minutes. If in that session, we see a basis for working together, we will then schedule a Financial Roadmap (R) discussion where we discuss your values, goals, and current situation. After that step, we will really see if there is a real basis for working together!
At this point, you would decide whether or not to hire us to develop a strategy for you. If you decide here, you would pay a deposit fee; but understand this - if you were unhappy with our work for any reason, don't pay us. I don't want your money. Even if you sign a planning agreement, I will not hold you to it. If you're not 100% happy, if we're not making a significant different to you in terms of saving money, making more money, giving you peace of mind, reducing financial stress, etc, then you walk away no cost to you.
After we have delivered your initial planning strategy, we will outline our Client Community 10 Deliverables and the benefits of being in my client community, and show you how they apply to you. If we're a mutual fit to work together and you fit our Client Community Client Profile, we can discuss a long term relationship. And even then, if we do decide to work together, this relationship is terminable with no cost to you up to 5 days after agreeing, and after that can be canceled anytime with no cost beyond the termination date. Yes it's this easy to part ways and says so in my regulatory disclosure document (our Form ADV Part 2A - call us or email for a copy). I want it to be so easy to walk away from me that you feel fully comfortable walking WITH me.
Does it sound risky to get involved with me? I don't think so. I only want to work with people who really want to work with me and vice versa. Don't you feel that way about your work?
Q. do you know what you are doing?
I have 24 years experience in financial planning. But lest you think I only have one year of experience 21 times, I have:
Earned my undergraduate degree from Tufts University in History and Economics.
Earned a Masters Degree in Investment Management from the BU School of Management (high honors).
Completed a Certificate in Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning (did this in tandem with the MS degree - it nearly killed me!).
Earned the Certified Financial Planner(TM) designation from the CFP Board. My CFP ID #256519.
Earned the Retirement Management Advisor (SM) designation from the Retirement Income Industry Association (now part of IWI). A designation that specializes in approaching the planning needs of those who have accumulated money and want to make it last as an income source throughout retirement.
Subscribed to numerous industry publications and information sources that keep me current on tax, legal and planning news from the Federal to the state level nationwide. Publications such as Leimberg Information Services, Ed Slott's IRA newsletter, the Retirement Management Journal and others. Staying on top of things requires much more effort than numbers 1-4 above!
Spoken in front of numerous civic, educational and corporate groups educating on financial planning topics including such places as Tufts University, ServicePoint Corporation, various local Councils on Aging (on one of which I serve as a board member) and other civic groups.
Started my career at a very large financial company where I eventually managed almost 500 client accounts by the time I was 28 but felt I could not give them the personal service they deserve so I gave up over 400 accounts, went out on my own and now run a focused practice (Walnut Hill Advisors, LLC CRD #152729) where we plan to limit the total number of clients to 100. Your benefit- I am mature enough to know I can't be all things to all people, but I can work very hard for a small number of clients in a client community.
Q. what makes you different? can i trust you?
Trust is earned. Therefore, you have to give someone a chance to earn your trust. Nothing I can say here will make you trust me. But I do promise that if you are a client, I will give your plan a high level of attention and to tell it like it is when you need to hear it. If you're a client, we will engage in straight talk.
The company I founded, Walnut Hill Advisors, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisory firm. By law I must be a fiduciary and put your interests first. I also work on a fee basis so we won't be pushing high commission partnerships, high commission variable annuities and real estate funds on you. Note: we do have an insurance agency - which does work on commissions - so we can provide long term care insurance, life insurance, and annuities to suitable clients who need these products. Also note that for our Client Community, any insurance revenue our firm receives, is credited against your fee!
Q. how do i know you will put my interests first?
We have to as I mentioned above (that Fiduciary thing). But think of it this way, if we are earning fees, and we have a policy that nothing is locked in - our clients could leave any time they like - doesn't it make sense that we'd work hard to help make our clients succeed and put your interests first? Because if we didn't, we wouldn't have a business. And that wouldn't make sense would it?
Q. Are we a good fit?
If after reading above you’d like to have a conversation about working together I’d be happy to invest an hour of my time getting to know you better, your financial goals, and help determine if there’s value I can provide in your life. I typically do all of my initial appointments via the phone and/or web conference. To set up an initial meeting, have your questions answered, and to see if we could be a good fit – just click Plan With Chris and request a meeting time.
So what's stopping you from finding out more about "Planning with Chris?"