Financial Planning, Millennials

12 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Financial Advisor: RLS Answers

A couple days ago, I posted these 12 questions to ask a financial advisor before you hire them. I thought it would be helpful if I revisit these questions and answer them for RLS Wealth so you can better understand our firm and how we work with our clients.

1. Are you a fiduciary?

At RLS, we are fiduciaries. This means that we are legally obligated to do what is best for our clients and put their interests above our own. We take being a fiduciary very seriously. (you can read more about this in my blog post about types of financial advisors)

2. What services do you provide for your clients?

We do comprehensive financial planning with all of our clients. We believe that everything starts and ends with a financial plan. Investing, insurances, tax planning, etc. are all a part of the plan, but they are just a part. We look at our clients financial lives holistically and figure out how to use your resources in the most efficient manner to achieve the goals you have.

3. What do you charge and how do you get paid?

We have 3 different models based on age, complexity, and what the client is looking for. We did this so we have the ability to help anyone that would be a good fit for our firm regardless of income. Here is the breakdown for each model:

  • Young Professionals: $750 one time up-front fee then $150/month + .35% on the assets we manage
  • Mid Career Professionals: $750 one time up-front fee then $300/month + .35% on the assets we manage 
  • Assets over $350,000: Once you have over $350,000 that we manage, you move to paying 1% on those assets. Then at $1 million you move to .75%, then at $3 million you move to .5%.

As a fee-only planning firm in Indianapolis, IN we do not get paid in any other way. We have referral partners we send our clients to for estate planning, insurances, etc. but do not get paid on any of those things. 

4. How will the relationship work? How often do we meet?

In our base $150 model we meet once per year in January or February. We get an update of your situation, goals, and any life changes and then we create a new updated plan for that year. We review investments, cash flow planning, tax planning, etc.

In our $300 and AUM model we meet twice per year. Once in the beginning and once at the end of the year. Typically, these clients need more planning with the complexity of their lives’ so we need to meet with them more often.

Additionally, clients can email, call, and schedule extra meetings as life changes (new job, bonus, moving, kids, etc.). The goal is to have each meeting be valuable, so we meet as things come up as well.

5. What’s your investment policy?

At RLS, we believe in having low cost, diversified portfolios that get the right exposure to equities vs. bonds as well as growth vs. value. We also have ESG portfolios we use for clients who request it. We believe that continuing to invest in the market for a long period of time is what will lead to the best outcomes.

6. Who do you do your best work for?

We do our best work for people who are purpose driven. People who want more out of life and do not just subscribe to what other people tell you you should do. I specifically work with young professionals, typically 25-45 years old who want a partner in their financial life. Someone to educate them and help take some tasks off their plate since their lives are already super busy.

Justin specifically works with purpose driven people as well, but his focus and who he does his best work for are creators/business owners. He is a really valuable resource in this space. 

 7. How do you define/measure success for your clients?

We define success in a few ways. One is by ensuring our clients achieve their goals. We ask all our clients what their goals are and what success with a financial advisor looks like. As long as we help them achieve those goals and sleep better at night, then we are being successful.

8. What is important to you?

Family is most important to us. We will always prioritize our families and try to never miss anything major going on. We also value honesty, transparency, and most importantly, our clients. We are so thankful for the 120+ households that trust us to manage their financial lives, and we want to make sure we are providing everything they need.

9. Do you have any investment minimum requirements?

Based on our fee structure, we do not have any minimums. That is why we have the monthly subscription models, so no clients have to be turned away because they do not have enough assets. Everyone deserves good financial planning and we believe that if you are serious about it, our base model is something that can fit into your budget. Most people spend hundreds on cable, wifi, going out, etc. already, this is actually something that can help you in the future. Think of financial planning as an investment in yourself and not an expense in your budget.

10. Why did your last client hire you?

My last clients hired me to help manage and organize their financial lives. They are a married couple in their early 30’s with 2 young kids. They have high paying jobs that require a lot of time so they were looking for someone to help take tasks off their plate. After listening and getting to know them and what they want, we invested the excess cash above their emergency fund, set up monthly investment contributions to the proper accounts for their situation, implemented the proper insurances, had them refinance their home, made some changes to their 401(k), etc. There was a lot to do to just get them organized, but we are past that and now going deeper in the planning.

11. Will you coordinate your advice with my tax situation?

Yes, we do coordinate with our clients tax situations. We look for opportunities to lower our clients taxes over their lifetimes. We look at whether we should do ROTH vs traditional IRA and 401(k)’s. We also look for opportunities to do tax loss harvesting and ROTH conversions. Those are just a couple examples, but the moral of the story is that taxes are important and we focus on tax planning with our clients.

12. How will we stay in contact if we only meet a couple times a year?

Besides your yearly/semi-yearly meetings, we are available anytime via phone call or text. Additionally, we produce a ton of content to help educate our clients as well as have a newsletter for them. Now, we have created a community component for our clients through Circle that will be focused on helping educate our clients on things not necessarily related to money — think parenting, nutrition, and leadership, are all some topics we will explore. Here is my linktree to see all the content I post to stay up with my clients.

Remember, hiring a financial advisor is a big decision — one that can really pay off and advance you in your financial life. However, you do not want to rush the decision. Interview multiple people. Ask them these questions, and then listen. Hope seeing our answers is helpful! If you are interested in learning more about RLS and how we work with our clients, click this link to schedule a meeting with me.

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Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimers page.