Frequently Asked Questions
What is financial planning?
Financial Planning can be integrated and comprehensive, where all elements of your financial affairs (like retirement planning, investments, insurance and college funding) are brought together into a coordinated, cohesive plan. Or, it can be very specific, focusing just on a single issue of importance or concern to you. In either case, financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important deliverables. First, an in-depth review of your current situation (either comprehensive or specific, depending on your planning objective) and secondly, a road map that provides clear direction on how to achieve your planning goal(s). It is important to remember that financial planning is a dynamic process, not a single, one-time event. The economy, your planning objectives and earned income can all change, necessitating a revisit of the road map.
Isn’t financial planning just for people who have lots of money?
Any individual, couple or family seeking financial advice can benefit from our services. As a member of the Garrett Planning Network, we have taken a pledge to offer our services to all persons, regardless of their income or assets. We welcome clients who simply want a one-time financial review or are interested in a second opinion before making a major financial decision. Equally welcome are those persons who are seeking ongoing financial coaching and plan monitoring over a longer period of time.
Do you offer your services to businesses that would like to provide objective financial and/or investment advice to their employees?
Any organization (profit or non-profit) wanting to provide unbiased, conflict of interest free advice and financial education to their employees can benefit from our services. We can also provide financial advice and coaching to rank and file employees and/or senior executives on a retainer basis. Your employees will appreciate the fact that you have engaged an independent, fee-only firm, thus eliminating the possibility of sales pressure related to product sales or bundled services. Call us for details 414.455.5313.
Do you work with clients outside of the Bozeman & Milwaukee area?
Yes we do! By leveraging technology we can work with clients anywhere in the world. When scheduling a Get Acquainted meeting, you will have the option to choose your preferred meeting location. This can be in our office, via video conference, or by phone. Even clients that live near one of our offices can choose to conduct meetings online or by phone to eliminate the hassle of driving to our office. Just select the meeting location most convenient for you. If you prefer to meet face to face, but don’t live near an office, give us a call to see if we can arrange a time to meet.
Do you provide investment advice without investment management?
Absolutely! We are happy to providing investment advice and education if you have questions about your investments, but would like to continue to self-manage your portfolio. Part of the comprehensive financial planning process involves evaluation of risk tolerance, determining financial goals, and making investment recommendations.
What is “Fee-Only” financial planning and why should it be important to me?
Fee-Only financial planners are paid only by their clients. They never receive any commissions, sales incentives, bonuses or special perks paid by insurance companies or other financial service entities for selling their products. Serenity Financial Consulting is a true Fee-Only financial planning firm. Knowing this, you can approach us with the full knowledge that we will be bringing recommendations that are in your best interest only. You do not have to worry that we will need to “sell you something” in order to be paid for providing you advice.
How do you price your financial planning services?
Our fees are based on the time we spend meeting with you, either in-person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your situation, and formulating our recommendations that are specific to your situation. Before you hire us, we will always provide you with a written quote of the full cost of the engagement. We fully disclose all of our fees. We offer an initial consultation, up to one hour, that is complimentary to prospective clients. Following the delivery of our financial plan, if you have questions or need clarification on anything we recommend, please feel free to give us a call. We will not bill for modest amounts of additional time spent during the 30-day period after we present our recommendations to you. We realize that our plan must be understood by you to secure the necessary emotional ownership required for full implementation.
What types of planning services do you offer?
Click here for a complete description of financial planning services offered by Serenity Financial Consulting.
How do you price your investment management services?
We charge an assets under management (AUM) fee for investment management services. Fees are determined at the beginning of each quarter based on your account balance, and are billed directly to your investment account.
What is your investment philosophy?
The following principles and convictions will inform the investment recommendations that we present to our clients:
a. The asset allocation decision will be the most significant factor in determining your long-term investment performance. Asset allocation refers to the way you divide your investments between stocks, bonds and cash. We believe that there is a direct correlation between risk and return- i.e. investors receive a “risk premium” in the form of higher returns for choosing investments that carry greater risk.
b. We believe that investing in stocks requires a time horizon of at least five years or longer. Investors who will need access to their funds within five years should not be in the stock market. As we experienced from 2000-2009, stocks are capable of delivering 0% returns for an entire decade.
c. We do not believe in market timing, which is a strategy that seeks to move in and out of the market (bond or stock) in anticipation of either upward or downward market movements. Few (if any) investment professionals have, over a long period of time, demonstrated their ability to consistently add value beyond a “buy and hold” strategy. We believe in controlling risk through a prudent asset allocation strategy, not by attempting to “time the market”.
d. We believe that fees and expenses have a very negative impact on our client’s wealth over a long period of time. For example, if two investors with $100,000 are able to earn an average of 9% per year over a 20-year time period, but one investor chooses higher cost investments that assess an extra 1% per year in fees, the investor with the higher costs will have $94,345 LESS at the end of the 20-year period. Expenses and fees must be carefully managed.
Are fees paid to your firm tax deductible?
Yes, with certain limitations. Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A on your Federal Income tax return. It is currently subject to a 2 percent floor of adjusted gross income.
How can I get started?
Click here to schedule an introductory meeting. We offer a complimentary, no obligation “Get Acquainted” meeting, and can meet in our office, over the phone, or by video conference. Our Bozeman office is location at 611 W. Main St. and our Milwaukee office is located at 4447 N. Oakland Ave.