Investment Planning Advisors

Services FAQ


Read some of the frequently asked questions about our services.

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Are you a fiduciary?
Yes. Being a fiduciary means that we always put our clients’ best interests above our own—whether we are selecting investments or giving recommendations and referrals. As an independent Registered Investment Advisor, we are legally required to uphold this fiduciary standard.
How do you get paid?

Part of being a fiduciary is being fee-only. We do not sell any products or take commissions, as that is considered a conflict of interest and a breach of fiduciary duty. Instead, we get paid in one of two ways:

  1. through investment management fees, which are a percentage of assets that we manage, or
  2. through a financial planning fee, which is a fixed amount based on the complexity of the plan.

How we are compensated

Our investment management fees are tied to the performance of your accounts; as the portfolio increases in value, the financial planner’s compensation also increases, and vice versa when the market drops and the portfolio value also drops. This fee model incentivizes us to grow and maintain client portfolios. Additionally, we use a tiered schedule which begins at 1% for the first $100,000. As the portfolio value increases and reaches the next tier, we lower the marginal fee to 0.8%. 

Our financial planning fees (without investment management) are also charged annually, but are a fixed amount, depending on the complexity of the plan. They range from $750 to $3,000.

What are my all-in costs?
If you sign up for investment management, your costs are the management fees, which are debited from your account in monthly installments. We do not charge transaction fees for buy and sell orders. Mutual funds and ETFs come with their own internal expenses, which can affect fund performance, but we do our best to select the highest quality funds with the lowest expenses.

If you sign up for financial planning only, your only cost is the fixed annual fee determined at the beginning of the planning engagement.

What are your qualifications?
All of our lead financial planners have passed the required Registered Investment Adviser exams and have a minimum of 5 years of experience. Some of our planners are Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, which means that they have completed coursework, passed a comprehensive exam, and worked several years in the industry. Additionally, we have a team of professionals who work closely with the advisors and provide planning and administrative support.
What type of clients do you work with?

We work with a variety of individuals and families, as well as small business owners. Most are located in the North Georgia area, but we can serve clients all over the country. Our client base is very diverse — whether you are a retiree looking for income investments or you are a younger, more growth-oriented investor, or somewhere in between, we look forward to helping you.

Since 2023, we have also partnered with Forsyth County to offer financial planning services to all county employees. We educate, meet with, and develop personalized financial plans for these individuals.

Can you provide referrals or endorsements for your services?
In addition to being thoroughly vetted by Forsyth County as their exclusive financial planning partner (Financial Planning for Forsyth County), we have been a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) and SmartVestor Pro in North Georgia for over 20 years. See SmartVestor Pro for more information.

We have also received great reviews on Google.

How will our relationship work?
We are here to serve you. After the initial meeting – where we determine your current financial situation and goals – we build a financial plan, which we review with you in a follow-up meeting. In that second meeting, we also give you specific action items that we believe will help you reach your goals. Oftentimes, this includes investment management.

At that point, we will guide you through the onboarding process of opening and funding accounts. Typically, we meet annually for a comprehensive review of your investments and financial plan, though you will hear from us throughout the year—sometimes to check in, other times to share our thoughts on the economy or current events. We believe that communication is an important part of the client-advisor relationship.

What’s your investment philosophy?
We see investing as an integral part of the financial planning process, and we make sure that your investing strategy aligns with your financial goals, both short- and long-term, as well as your time horizon and risk tolerance for market volatility. The investment process is done in six steps:

  1. Financial Analysis – done during the initial meeting, we determine your current financial status and what your goals are.
  2. Goal-Based Allocation Planning – we build a financial plan for you, and review together your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  3. Portfolio Selection – based on the financial plan, we determine the best portfolio to reach your stated goals, balancing return potential with risk.
  4. Implementation – we set up the investment account(s) and facilitate transfers, contributions, and rollovers, and invest the funds in accordance with your agreed upon plan.
  5. Monitoring and Rebalancing – periodically we review and rebalance your portfolio to ensure that your investments remain on target and are consistent with your goals.
  6. Reporting – we provide you with regular updates to measure your financial progress.
What asset allocation will you use?
The asset allocation we select for your accounts depends on your investment objectives and goals. With investing, one size does not fit all, so that’s why we have developed several portfolio models—from the growth-oriented, aggressive investors to the income-oriented conservative investors, and for those somewhere in between. As we get to know you, we jointly decide what allocation meets your needs.

We manage investments through a series of model portfolios. Instead of managing hundreds of individual accounts, each account is tied to a model investment portfolio that is best for their circumstances. This allows us to react quickly to changing market conditions and ensure every client is treated the same.

What investment benchmarks do you use?
We regularly conduct performance reviews with our clients. Each account is compared with at least two benchmarks that have a similar allocation. We use benchmark portfolios from JP Morgan, E*Trade, and Vanguard. As an example, accounts using our Growth model are compared with the JP Morgan All Equity, E*Trade Aggressive Growth, and Vanguard Aggressive Growth benchmarks. As another example, accounts using our Balanced model are compared with the JP Morgan 60/40, E*Trade Moderate, and Vanguard Moderate Growth benchmarks.

We also use individual index comparison from S&P, Russell, MSCI, and Wilshire. For example, the S&P 500 index is the most widely used.

What tax hit do I face if I invest with you?
We are conscious of tax ramifications when investing, and work to minimize them as much as possible. When transferring assets from another custodian, we take capital gains into account when we rebalance portfolios. We also have tax-sensitive portfolios to offer clients. On an ongoing basis, our financial planning services include tax planning. We always provide clear expectations for tax ramifications through any investment changes.
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