Questions2019-01-06T06:10:08+00:00
Q & A

You have questions…I have answers!

ARE YOU ALWAYS A FIDUCIARY? CAN YOU STATE THAT IN WRITING?

I am a fiduciary 100% of the time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Therefore, I’m proud to commit to the following five fiduciary principles (from the committee for the fiduciary standard):

  • I will always put your best interests first.
  • I will act with prudence; that is, with the skill, care, diligence and good judgement of a professional.
  • I will not mislead you and I will provide conspicuous, full and fair disclosure of all important facts.
  • I will avoid conflicts of interests.
  • I will fully disclose and fairly manage, in your favor, any unavoidable conflicts.

WHAT IS A REGISTERED BROKER-DEALER? AND ARE YOU ONE?

The financial industry is a strange and mysterious place fraught with confusing terms, one of which is broker-dealer, a.k.a. an “investment advisor”. In truth, a broker-dealer can be a firm, or even an individual, whose main goal is selling and buying securities. Unfortunately, broker-dealers use a suitability standard, which means they may be selling you investment products that are not in your best interest. Besides investment advisor, broker-dealers also put titles like “financial planner”, “financial advisor”, or even the fancy “wealth manager” on their business card (but remember they are not fiduciaries). Examples of broker-dealers include Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Raymond James. Broker dealers aren’t required to have any training in financial planning or even have a high school degree, but they are trained in sales. Since I have no financial products to sell you, I am not a broker-dealer.

ARE YOU A LICENSED INSURANCE AGENT? 

Risk management is a very important part of financial planning and I will advise you on recommended types of insurance and how much coverage would be suitable for you. But again, please remember that my loyalty is to you, and I am not a licensed insurance agent. I don’t sell anything but my time.

ARE YOU A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISOR? 

Yes, you got it! I am registered in the state of Arizona, but can work with clients from other states, as permitted by each state’s de minimis rules. Check me out at www.investor.gov; this is a great way to investigate your current or future planner.

HOW ARE YOU COMPENSATED? 

Purely by my clients’ financial planning engagements. That means every penny I make comes strictly from the up-front payments of my clients. Truly, this is the only way to eliminate bias and work on behalf of your best interests.

DOES ANYONE ELSE EVER PAY YOU TO ADVISE ME, AND IF SO, DO YOU EARN MORE TO RECOMMEND CERTAIN PRODUCTS OR SERVICES?

I am fiercely independent and have no financial connection to any company. No one is buying me donuts or buffets, because I’m worthless to “Big Finance”. That being said, I have researched the most cost-effective options for getting things you may need like insurance, a will, and other documents to create security, contentment and joy in your financial plan, so I may recommend other companies’ services to you if they fit your needs. But no, I have ZERO affiliation with the options I recommend.

OK, BUT COME ON, YOU MUST HAVE SOME CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

Every financial planner will inevitably have some conflict of interest, but with Plan for Joy, I’ve worked hard to limit my personal bias. While I don’t sell any financial products, of course I’m motivated to sell Plan for Joy’s financial planning engagements. I also acknowledge that I have a clear bent toward the Vanguard Group and using their menu of low-cost index funds to build client portfolios. Vanguard’s unique client-owned structure means that instead of a third-party profiting from your retirement savings, Vanguard investors get ever-lowering fees on its mutual funds. Vanguard is the only investor owned mutual company I am aware of in the Unites States, so it’s clearly a favorite of many fee-for-service financial planners.

CAN YOU ITEMIZE ALL YOUR FEES AND EXPENSES IN WRITING?

Sure, our initial meeting is called About You and costs $120. If you want to continue our work together, then your Financial Plan will cost $960. If you’re less than 10 years from retirement, “Am I Ready to Retire?” will cost the original $960 + an additional $360 ($1,320 total). Finally, Money Date is an ongoing subscription to a monthly call that costs $60 per month—it is a completely optional continuation of our work together and starts in the third month following the completion of our “your Financial Plan” engagement. That’s it, there are NO other costs!

WOULD YOU CONSIDER CHARGING BY THE HOUR?

No. That’s a different business model and—while I am supportive of it—my goal with Plan for Joy is to provide comprehensive, life-changing financial plans. When I worked in medicine, I observed that I was more successful in treating complex chronic disease with my established patients. This was largely due to the fact that I simply understood the lives of my regular patients much better than a brand-new walk-in. So, in all honestly, I believe I would be remiss to try and give you pertinent advice on money matters in just an hour or two.

CAN I GET A REFUND OF YOUR PREPAID FEES?

Plan for Joy works hard to bring you joy, including the rescheduling of appointments when given reasonable notice, but if you would like a refund, let me explain when that can occur. Since you pay half of your Financial Plan at the onset ($480), I’m happy to refund any remaining amount that I have not already worked on your behalf (my hourly rate is $120) to conclude our engagement. By the time I collect for the final half of your Financial Plan, nearly all the hours of our engagement will have been worked, but again if you want to end our engagement, I will refund what I can (but then you’ll miss out on your fantastic plan, of course).  About You and Money Dates are non-refundable.

MY RESEARCH OF FEE-ONLY FINANCIAL PLANNERS SHOWS THAT A TYPICAL PLAN USUALLY COSTS FROM $2,000 TO $4,000, WHY ARE YOUR PLANS JUST $1,080 (About You + Your Financial Plan)?

I’m so glad you asked! This is a really important question that speaks to why I wanted to be a financial planner…

I founded Plan for Joy because my 30-something self was desperate for collaborative, unbiased, education-based financial advice about my money. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I eventually learned how to invest by getting a financial planning education. But even if I had found this wonderfully-minded financial planner, it would have been difficult for my husband and I to cough up $4,000 for their services. With this in mind, I designed Plan for Joy purposely as a cost-effective option to help more people create a plan that brings them joy and hope. To make it affordable, I strategized ways to save time (like having you, the client, do all your own financial data entry from the comfort of your home). Meeting via video conferencing technology also eliminates the overhead of an office location and additional staff. However, please rest assured that there are absolutely no shortcuts in your plan. And I know that $1,080 still isn’t chump change, so I truly honor and respect that you’ve chosen me to help you in such an important aspect of your life!

DO YOU HAVE ANY MINIMUMS FOR ASSETS, ACCOUNT SIZE, OR OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKING WITH YOU?

No, no and NO! By now I hope you’re getting the strong impression that I believe financial planning is a service that anyone and everyone should have available to them. With that in mind, I don’t put up any barriers to working with you.

WHAT IS YOUR INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY?

After I get to know you and we determine your goals, behaviors and trepidations around investing, I can then determine your risk profile and appropriate asset allocation. My portfolio construction mirrors the response to market forces, which is called passive investing or indexing.  Besides active management’s excessive fees that drive your overall return down, numerous studies have demonstrated that it doesn’t fulfill its promise of consistently exceeding market returns. It’s sort of like, “Do I put my hard-earned money on red (Active Manager A) or black (Active Manager B) at the roulette table?” Personally, I don’t think gambling is the answer to funding your retirement. Diversification and low mutual fund costs are the two primary levers we can control in today’s economic landscape, and that’s largely what I depend on for portfolio construction. However, there are some exceptions.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN BEAT THE MARKET?

Definitely not—index investors think beating the market is phooey. Here’s a quick example that explains indexing in terms of a marathon. More than 50,000 runners attempt to complete the New York City Marathon each year. The most elite runners start first because they’re expected to be the top finishers. But some of the elite runners inevitably get injured, they drop out or lag behind, finishing far behind what one would expect given their skill and reputation. Sports analysts can make all the predictions they want, but we simply can’t know for sure if an elite runner will exit at mile 17 from heat exhaustion, or if a weekend warrior will surge ahead and win the race, or both. Now substitute stocks for runners. Stocks representing thousands of unpredictably acting companies will trade every day on the stock market. Financial analysts never truly know who the big earnings winners will be on any given day/week/month (a.k.a. “beating the market”). Therefore, instead of betting on a handful of “runners” (stocks) to fund your retirement, index investors simply buy categories of stocks—small cap, large cap, etc.—or sometimes even all of them—total stock market fund (as weighted by market value). In fact, the most famous index is the S&P 500 representing the 500 largest corporations by market capitalization in America.

DO YOU CONTROL MY ASSETS AND INVEST MY MONEY FOR ME?

This is called assets under management or AUM and is used by a majority of investment advisors as the profit center of their work with you. They take a percentage, typically around 1% of your hard-earned money, to manage it. For example, a $500,000 portfolio with a 1% AUM fee will cost that family $5000 per year, and EVERY year thereafter in which that advisor manages your portfolio! Honestly, most of us will need every dollar we can muster to successfully navigate the 30-year waters of a happy retirement. So, I obviously don’t participate in AUM billing and encourage you to consider if you can manage investment accounts on your own. I believe most of us can safely invest with a well thought out plan that uses annual rebalancing. You just need someone to develop an investment policy with you, believe in you and hold you accountable, that’s what we do at Plan for Joy. Another option is to read books, blogs and forums that provide you the fortitude and direction to invest on your own for free. Lastly, if you feel you just don’t have the will, drive or desire to manage your investments, then please consider the use of a robo-advisor like Betterment or Ellevest that can knock that AUM down to 0.25% (just $1,250 in fees for that same $500,000 portfolio). Remember, the true goal is not wealth for wealth’s sake but a slowly growing asset that will provide security, contentment and joy for a lifetime. AUM erodes that slow growth. It also suggests that a person (a.k.a. broker dealer) with magical powers can beat the market, and that person certainly wants to get paid for their hypothetical, yet false, superpower. Here is another problem I find with AUM, it really erodes at the freedom from conflict of interest. Say for example, you received a $100,000 inheritance and you truly don’t know what to do with it. Your financial advisor may suggest it become part of your AUM, to their benefit, versus a different utilization that better fulfills your ideal life. That’s pretty crummy, and I am sure it doesn’t happen all the time, but charging for AUM certainly makes planning recommendations cloudier for the advisor.

DO YOU FOCUS SOLELY ON INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, OR DO YOU ALSO ADVISE ON DEBT, CASH FLOWS, TAXES, RETIREMENT SAVINGS VEHICLES, SPENDING STRATEGIES, INSURANCE COVERAGE, COLLEGE SAVINGS, SOCIAL SECURITY PLANNING, CHARITABLE GIVING AND NECESSARY ESTATE DOCUMENTATION?

This is really a question about comprehensive planning and that’s all Plan for Joy does; that’s our motivation for working every day. So yes, I certainly advise on every topic listed in your question. Again, since Plan for Joy’s aim is to positively transform your relationship with money, it creates a foundation from which investing is actually possible. Because if you want to HAVE more money, you have to PLAN and SAVE for that money!

WHAT’S YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO FINANCIAL PLANNING?

Well, my BS and PhD in the hard sciences come from a love of analytics, statistics and asking complex scientific questions. And my MA in medicine comes from a motivation to provide compassionate medical care for complex diseases. I have married these two past professions into Plan for Joy by further attaining a Certificate of Financial Planning and a CRPC® designation. I’m thrilled to have finally found one profession that allows me to number-crunch, scrutinize data and synthesize lots of information as the basis of helping people have a better life!

Plan for Joy, LLC (“Plan for Joy”) is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the State of Arizona and in other jurisdictions where exempted.  Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by Plan for Joy in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant an applicable state exemption. All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Plan for Joy, unless otherwise specifically cited.  Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness.  All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.
Copyright 2019 Plan for Joy | All Rights Reserved | Site Designed by Metta Digital Marketing
Q & A

You have questions…I have answers!

ARE YOU ALWAYS A FIDUCIARY? CAN YOU STATE THAT IN WRITING?

I am a fiduciary 100% of the time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Therefore, I’m proud to commit to the following five fiduciary principles (from the committee for the fiduciary standard):

  • I will always put your best interests first.
  • I will act with prudence; that is, with the skill, care, diligence and good judgement of a professional.
  • I will not mislead you and I will provide conspicuous, full and fair disclosure of all important facts.
  • I will avoid conflicts of interests.
  • I will fully disclose and fairly manage, in your favor, any unavoidable conflicts.

WHAT IS A REGISTERED BROKER-DEALER? AND ARE YOU ONE?

The financial industry is a strange and mysterious place fraught with confusing terms, one of which is broker-dealer, a.k.a. an “investment advisor”. In truth, a broker-dealer can be a firm, or even an individual, whose main goal is selling and buying securities. Unfortunately, broker-dealers use a suitability standard, which means they may be selling you investment products that are not in your best interest. Besides investment advisor, broker-dealers also put titles like “financial planner”, “financial advisor”, or even the fancy “wealth manager” on their business card (but remember they are not fiduciaries). Examples of broker-dealers include Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Raymond James. Broker dealers aren’t required to have any training in financial planning or even have a high school degree, but they are trained in sales. Since I have no financial products to sell you, I am not a broker-dealer.

ARE YOU A LICENSED INSURANCE AGENT? 

Risk management is a very important part of financial planning and I will advise you on recommended types of insurance and how much coverage would be suitable for you. But again, please remember that my loyalty is to you, and I am not a licensed insurance agent. I don’t sell anything but my time.

ARE YOU A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISOR? 

Yes, you got it! I am registered in the state of Arizona, but can work with clients from other states, as permitted by each state’s de minimis rules. Check me out at www.investor.gov; this is a great way to investigate your current or future planner.

HOW ARE YOU COMPENSATED? 

Purely by my clients’ financial planning engagements. That means every penny I make comes strictly from the up-front payments of my clients. Truly, this is the only way to eliminate bias and work on behalf of your best interests.

DOES ANYONE ELSE EVER PAY YOU TO ADVISE ME, AND IF SO, DO YOU EARN MORE TO RECOMMEND CERTAIN PRODUCTS OR SERVICES?

I am fiercely independent and have no financial connection to any company. No one is buying me donuts or buffets, because I’m worthless to “Big Finance”. That being said, I have researched the most cost-effective options for getting things you may need like insurance, a will, and other documents to create security, contentment and joy in your financial plan, so I may recommend other companies’ services to you if they fit your needs. But no, I have ZERO affiliation with the options I recommend.

OK, BUT COME ON, YOU MUST HAVE SOME CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

Every financial planner will inevitably have some conflict of interest, but with Plan for Joy, I’ve worked hard to limit my personal bias. While I don’t sell any financial products, of course I’m motivated to sell Plan for Joy’s financial planning engagements. I also acknowledge that I have a clear bent toward the Vanguard Group and using their menu of low-cost index funds to build client portfolios. Vanguard’s unique client-owned structure means that instead of a third-party profiting from your retirement savings, Vanguard investors get ever-lowering fees on its mutual funds. Vanguard is the only investor owned mutual company I am aware of in the Unites States, so it’s clearly a favorite of many fee-for-service financial planners.

CAN YOU ITEMIZE ALL YOUR FEES AND EXPENSES IN WRITING?

Sure, our initial meeting is called About You and costs $120. If you want to continue our work together, then your Financial Plan will cost $960. If you’re less than 10 years from retirement, “Am I Ready to Retire?” will cost the original $960 + an additional $360 ($1,320 total). Finally, Money Date is an ongoing subscription to a monthly call that costs $60 per month—it is a completely optional continuation of our work together and starts in the third month following the completion of our “your Financial Plan” engagement. That’s it, there are NO other costs!

WOULD YOU CONSIDER CHARGING BY THE HOUR?

No. That’s a different business model and—while I am supportive of it—my goal with Plan for Joy is to provide comprehensive, life-changing financial plans. When I worked in medicine, I observed that I was more successful in treating complex chronic disease with my established patients. This was largely due to the fact that I simply understood the lives of my regular patients much better than a brand-new walk-in. So, in all honestly, I believe I would be remiss to try and give you pertinent advice on money matters in just an hour or two.

CAN I GET A REFUND OF YOUR PREPAID FEES?

Plan for Joy works hard to bring you joy, including the rescheduling of appointments when given reasonable notice, but if you would like a refund, let me explain when that can occur. Since you pay half of your Financial Plan at the onset ($480), I’m happy to refund any remaining amount that I have not already worked on your behalf (my hourly rate is $120) to conclude our engagement. By the time I collect for the final half of your Financial Plan, nearly all the hours of our engagement will have been worked, but again if you want to end our engagement, I will refund what I can (but then you’ll miss out on your fantastic plan, of course).  About You and Money Dates are non-refundable.

MY RESEARCH OF FEE-ONLY FINANCIAL PLANNERS SHOWS THAT A TYPICAL PLAN USUALLY COSTS FROM $2,000 TO $4,000, WHY ARE YOUR PLANS JUST $1,080 (About You + Your Financial Plan)?

I’m so glad you asked! This is a really important question that speaks to why I wanted to be a financial planner…

I founded Plan for Joy because my 30-something self was desperate for collaborative, unbiased, education-based financial advice about my money. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I eventually learned how to invest by getting a financial planning education. But even if I had found this wonderfully-minded financial planner, it would have been difficult for my husband and I to cough up $4,000 for their services. With this in mind, I designed Plan for Joy purposely as a cost-effective option to help more people create a plan that brings them joy and hope. To make it affordable, I strategized ways to save time (like having you, the client, do all your own financial data entry from the comfort of your home). Meeting via video conferencing technology also eliminates the overhead of an office location and additional staff. However, please rest assured that there are absolutely no shortcuts in your plan. And I know that $1,080 still isn’t chump change, so I truly honor and respect that you’ve chosen me to help you in such an important aspect of your life!

DO YOU HAVE ANY MINIMUMS FOR ASSETS, ACCOUNT SIZE, OR OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKING WITH YOU?

No, no and NO! By now I hope you’re getting the strong impression that I believe financial planning is a service that anyone and everyone should have available to them. With that in mind, I don’t put up any barriers to working with you.

WHAT IS YOUR INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY?

After I get to know you and we determine your goals, behaviors and trepidations around investing, I can then determine your risk profile and appropriate asset allocation. My portfolio construction mirrors the response to market forces, which is called passive investing or indexing.  Besides active management’s excessive fees that drive your overall return down, numerous studies have demonstrated that it doesn’t fulfill its promise of consistently exceeding market returns. It’s sort of like, “Do I put my hard-earned money on red (Active Manager A) or black (Active Manager B) at the roulette table?” Personally, I don’t think gambling is the answer to funding your retirement. Diversification and low mutual fund costs are the two primary levers we can control in today’s economic landscape, and that’s largely what I depend on for portfolio construction. However, there are some exceptions.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN BEAT THE MARKET?

Definitely not—index investors think beating the market is phooey. Here’s a quick example that explains indexing in terms of a marathon. More than 50,000 runners attempt to complete the New York City Marathon each year. The most elite runners start first because they’re expected to be the top finishers. But some of the elite runners inevitably get injured, they drop out or lag behind, finishing far behind what one would expect given their skill and reputation. Sports analysts can make all the predictions they want, but we simply can’t know for sure if an elite runner will exit at mile 17 from heat exhaustion, or if a weekend warrior will surge ahead and win the race, or both. Now substitute stocks for runners. Stocks representing thousands of unpredictably acting companies will trade every day on the stock market. Financial analysts never truly know who the big earnings winners will be on any given day/week/month (a.k.a. “beating the market”). Therefore, instead of betting on a handful of “runners” (stocks) to fund your retirement, index investors simply buy categories of stocks—small cap, large cap, etc.—or sometimes even all of them—total stock market fund (as weighted by market value). In fact, the most famous index is the S&P 500 representing the 500 largest corporations by market capitalization in America.

DO YOU CONTROL MY ASSETS AND INVEST MY MONEY FOR ME?

This is called assets under management or AUM and is used by a majority of investment advisors as the profit center of their work with you. They take a percentage, typically around 1% of your hard-earned money, to manage it. For example, a $500,000 portfolio with a 1% AUM fee will cost that family $5000 per year, and EVERY year thereafter in which that advisor manages your portfolio! Honestly, most of us will need every dollar we can muster to successfully navigate the 30-year waters of a happy retirement. So, I obviously don’t participate in AUM billing and encourage you to consider if you can manage investment accounts on your own. I believe most of us can safely invest with a well thought out plan that uses annual rebalancing. You just need someone to develop an investment policy with you, believe in you and hold you accountable, that’s what we do at Plan for Joy. Another option is to read books, blogs and forums that provide you the fortitude and direction to invest on your own for free. Lastly, if you feel you just don’t have the will, drive or desire to manage your investments, then please consider the use of a robo-advisor like Betterment or Ellevest that can knock that AUM down to 0.25% (just $1,250 in fees for that same $500,000 portfolio). Remember, the true goal is not wealth for wealth’s sake but a slowly growing asset that will provide security, contentment and joy for a lifetime. AUM erodes that slow growth. It also suggests that a person (a.k.a. broker dealer) with magical powers can beat the market, and that person certainly wants to get paid for their hypothetical, yet false, superpower. Here is another problem I find with AUM, it really erodes at the freedom from conflict of interest. Say for example, you received a $100,000 inheritance and you truly don’t know what to do with it. Your financial advisor may suggest it become part of your AUM, to their benefit, versus a different utilization that better fulfills your ideal life. That’s pretty crummy, and I am sure it doesn’t happen all the time, but charging for AUM certainly makes planning recommendations cloudier for the advisor.

DO YOU FOCUS SOLELY ON INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, OR DO YOU ALSO ADVISE ON DEBT, CASH FLOWS, TAXES, RETIREMENT SAVINGS VEHICLES, SPENDING STRATEGIES, INSURANCE COVERAGE, COLLEGE SAVINGS, SOCIAL SECURITY PLANNING, CHARITABLE GIVING AND NECESSARY ESTATE DOCUMENTATION?

This is really a question about comprehensive planning and that’s all Plan for Joy does; that’s our motivation for working every day. So yes, I certainly advise on every topic listed in your question. Again, since Plan for Joy’s aim is to positively transform your relationship with money, it creates a foundation from which investing is actually possible. Because if you want to HAVE more money, you have to PLAN and SAVE for that money!

WHAT’S YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO FINANCIAL PLANNING?

Well, my BS and PhD in the hard sciences come from a love of analytics, statistics and asking complex scientific questions. And my MA in medicine comes from a motivation to provide compassionate medical care for complex diseases. I have married these two past professions into Plan for Joy by further attaining a Certificate of Financial Planning and a CRPC® designation. I’m thrilled to have finally found one profession that allows me to number-crunch, scrutinize data and synthesize lots of information as the basis of helping people have a better life!

Plan for Joy, LLC (“Plan for Joy”) is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the State of Arizona and in other jurisdictions where exempted.  Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by Plan for Joy in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant an applicable state exemption. All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Plan for Joy, unless otherwise specifically cited.  Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness.  All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.
Copyright 2019 Plan for Joy | All Rights Reserved | Site Designed by Metta Digital Marketing