Frequently Asked Questions
What is Financial Life Planning?
- Do you ever wonder if your life is going in the 'right' direction?
- Do you know what you want to do at retirement but you’re not sure how to get there?
- Are there past mistakes you feel are 'unfixable'?
- Have you recently gone through a life-changing event?
- Are your dreams buried under obligations?
If these questions strike a chord with you, Financial Life Planning may be the ideal solution. Financial Life Planning is a life-changing program created by George Kinder and delivered by Registered Life Planners®. You can learn more about the history of Financial Life Planning at the Kinder Institute's website. Using strategic processes and exercises, we help clients sift through the overwhelming obstacles, mind-numbing routine and pressing obligations of daily life until, together, we find the life you were meant to live. Financial Life Planning is not about how the market is doing - it’s about how YOUR LIFE is doing. It’s about discovering your dream of freedom and regaining the balance in your life. Registered Life Planners align financial planning with your personal values, empowering you to achieve your personal goals. Your life is a precious gift. Don’t settle for less!
Why choose a Fee-Only® Financial Planner?
A fee-only financial planner is compensated solely by the client. We don’t receive any income from the sale or recommendation of financial products, whether directly (such as kickbacks or commissions) or indirectly (such as lavish trips to luxury resorts to learn how to sell products). As a result, you can be confident that we are working for you alone. We also are qualified to make non-commissioned recommendations to skilled professionals with high integrity -- from life insurance agents to estate attorneys -- simply to ensure our clients get the best advice and service possible. We also are a proud member of NAPFA™, the nation’s leading organization of Fee-Only comprehensive financial planning professionals. Read more about the benefits of Fee-Only Financial Planners.
What exactly is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™?
A Certified Financial Planner™ has passed a comprehensive two-day exam certifying her to advise clients in the following areas:
- Estate planning
- Risk management (insurance consulting)
- Retirement planning
- Income taxes and tax planning
- General financial planning
As well, a CFP® has been tested in the regulations that she must abide by to maintain her license. Because Johanna is a CPA and has been advising clients in most of these areas for over 30 years, she became a CFP® to add another level of competence to serve her clients better. By understanding the relationship between taxes and estate planning, for example, she is well qualified to help clients design tax-efficient estate plans and to work in conjunction with their attorneys in drafting wills and trusts.
In the past, I’ve gotten a financial plan for free from my stockbroker. Why should I pay for a plan?
Often, investment firms use the free financial plan as a lure to get clients to move their investments to them. The expression 'you get what you pay for' has never been more applicable. The commissions brokers earn make it well worth their while to prepare a one-size-fits-all plan.
Who is a good candidate for financial planning?
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be wealthy – or even have money to invest. Financial planning is appropriate at any age. Events such as an upcoming retirement, divorce, marriage, an inheritance, or the need to create a will sometimes lead to a phone call. If you are married, both spouses should participate in the planning process.
What kind of a plan do I get from you?
Because your life and finances change daily, at Milestones, we engage in planning as opposed to presenting you with a written plan. While you will receive documents as we go through the planning process, you (and your spouse, if applicable) will get interactive advice for every step of the process. When life throws you a curve ball, we'll be there to modify your plans and help you understand the effect. When you need to make a financial decision, we are there to interpret what it will mean to your overall financial situation. Clients have told us that this is much more valuable to them than receiving a thick stack of papers that will soon be obsolete.
What if I just want you to manage my investments?
That’s how clients often start out with Milestones. We personally manage clients’ investments on a fee- only basis using no-load mutual funds. You won’t have a cookie-cutter portfolio chosen by a computer – it will be personally selected and managed by our team. We also understand that your finances are an essential part of your life. We take extra time to answer questions and educate you about what you own and why. Please see our Fee Schedule for more information.
How confidential is the information you get from me?
In 30 years of practicing as a CPA, I have developed very strict privacy policies. At Milestones:
- We are a paperless firm, which means fewer documents with your information lying around.
- We back up data to a secure, accredited offsite server on a continual basis.
- We restrict access to your financial information for colleagues in our sister CPA firm (unless you give permission).
- We adhere to a strict Code of Ethics to give clients an extra layer of security.
How do Financial Life Planning meetings work?
Meetings generally take place in the Milestones offices and last from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours each. After-hours and weekend appointments are available if necessary. The bulk of the meetings, exercises, and data projections take place during the first three to six months and then we monitor and update for the rest of the year.
What if I live out-of-town?
Financial Life Planning is generally done face-to-face, but a Registered Life Planner may not be located in your area. If we are unable to refer you to a Registered Life Planner near your home, it is possible to work long distance after the initial meeting which must be in person and will last approximately half a day.
How much does this cost?
It really depends upon your specific situation and needs. All agreements are on a flat-fee basis, billed monthly, giving you the peace of mind that you will know the cost of your plan in the beginning.
Are there any alternatives to the comprehensive plan?
Our hourly rate for planning is $200/hour (with discounts available for investment management clients). Clients typically seek hourly financial advice for a specific situation, such as estate or college planning.
What happens after we finish planning?
Planning is an ongoing relationship. After the first year, your rate goes down by 50%.
Can I get referrals of clients who have gone through the process?
As fiduciaries and Registered Investment Advisors, we are prohibited from using client testimonials.
We welcome any other questions you might have. Please call our office at 270-247-0555 and ask for Michelle or Johanna.