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Comprehensive Financial Planning
Why do I need a financial planner?
For most clients, there are two reasons they hire a financial planner in general and Central Park Financial Planning in particular. First, we have the expertise and experience to identify current areas of weakness and opportunity in your finances that will benefit from attention. Second, we collaborate with you and hold you accountable to the plan we develop together. A plan isn’t worth the paper it is written on if it’s not placed into action which is why the ongoing relationship established via an open retainer agreement is particularly effective.
What does fee-only mean?
As a fee-only financial advisor Central Park Financial Planning is compensated solely by the fees clients pay us directly for advice. We do not sell products or receive commissions. Instead we provide sound financial planning advice regarding insurance, investments, retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning and general financial matters.
This type of arrangement removes any conflict of interest that may occur when an advisor stands to gain from recommending a specific investment, mutual fund, or insurance product. Instead, we will suggest investments to you which are designed to help you achieve your objectives while being cost-effective in terms of both upfront and ongoing costs. Our compensation will never be based on whether you ultimately decide to make that decision or not.
What is a fiduciary and are you one?
A fiduciary is legally required to put their clients’ best interests first. This means that clients can feel confident that the advice they are receiving is not influenced by anything other than what the advisor feels will benefit a client the most.
Central Park Financial Planning is a fiduciary. We are committed to act in utmost good faith, in a manner we believe to be in the best interest of our clients.
What is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?
A Registered Investment Advisor is a fiduciary that has a duty of undivided loyalty to its clients and must deal fairly and honestly with them. Any person or entity that holds itself out as a financial planner must be registered.
Central Park Financial Planning and Rob Friedman are registered with the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Upon request, you can be provided Form ADV, Part II which provides more detail about Central Park Financial Planning and Rob Friedman.
Who will benefit the most from a relationship with Central Park Financial Planning?
Are you someone who wants to live a full and fulfilling life and wishes to plan prudently to clarify his or her financial and life goals, work to develop a plan to get there based on wherever you are beginning the journey and follow through on implementing and refining it over time?
Do you want to work with a financial planner who puts your best interests first, relies on evidence-based decision-making, understands there are both analytical and emotional dimensions to financial decision-making and is committed working with you, helping to educate you about finances and assisting you to achieve great outcomes with your money and in your life?
Then you stand to benefit the most from a relationship with Central Park Financial Planning.
Who is not a good fit for Central Park Financial Planning?
Anyone who thinks a financial advisor will provide a crystal ball to predict future movements of the financial markets will not be well served at Central Park Financial Planning. Our philosophy is that the key to living a secure financial future is to take control of the areas of your life that you do control – such as your education and career decisions, your spending levels, your annual savings, the cost and diversification of your investments, the available tax savings of which you decide to take advantage and the way you manage risks – rather than focus on areas that you do not control – such as year-to-year stock market movements, interest rate swings and economic growth rates. Investments are simply one tool among many utilized to help clients to achieve their financial goals. If you want to double or triple your money instantly, then plan a weekend in Las Vegas or “invest” in lottery tickets. But before doing so, consider not only the potential reward but the risk involved in putting $10,000 down on number 30 in roulette. Additionally, if your primary concern is an inability to keep up with the payments on credit card or other personal debts, you may be better served by getting in touch with a credit counselor. The National Foundation of Credit Counseling can be a great resource to find a qualified credit counselor and see if a Debt Management Program might be a good option for you.
Does Central Park Financial Planning have minmum investment, net worth or income requirements for clients?
No – there is no minimum dollar requirements to work with Central Park Financial Planning. We recognize that people early in their careers often have at least as great a need for financial planning as those who have amassed considerable assets and net worth and may have higher incomes due to being later in their careers.
What is your philosophy?
Our goal is not to be to beat the market or achieve a specified rate of return. Instead, we strive to put clients in the position to withstand any turbulent financial market conditions while positioning them to benefit from more prosperous financial market conditions when they inevitably – and often unexpectedly – arrive. We will work with you to design a highly diversified portfolio that reflects your investment objectives, time horizon, risk tolerance, tax status and financial goals. We primarily use either low-cost, no-load index mutual funds or low-cost index-based Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as well as Bank CD and U.S. Treasury bond ladders for those approaching or in retirement.
Who will manage my investments if I work with you?
While investment advisory services are part of the Open Retainer agreement, you are not under any obligation to proceed with our recommendations. You can keep your investments in mutual fund and brokerage accounts at any investment custodian and execute all transactions yourself. We do offer the ability to move investments which make sense to a non-discretionary account at a third-party custodian with which Central Park Financial Planning has established a relationship. Any transactions in such an account which we help execute on your behalf will need to be authorized by you in advance. But the decision to establish such an account is completely up to you. We will monitor the progress of your investments either with information the third-party custodian with which we have a relationship can provide or with information you can supply to us directly. In any case, you are in complete control of the accounts at all times.
How do you help client implement their financial plans?
We firmly believe even the best financial plan is of little value until it’s implemented. To help you achieve your goals, without feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the noise along the way, we will work together to determine the appropriate steps to implement your plan and to guide you through the process one step at a time.
What tax service do you offer?
We believe income taxes are the central focal point of most financial programs. Therefore, we offer an income tax preparation services as well as tax planning services. These services are included under a full annual retainer agreement.
How much do you charge clients?
Our fees vary based on the services being provided. Once we have a better understanding of your financial picture, we will recommend the service that best fits your needs. Since each client brings a unique set of circumstances, it would not be appropriate for us to quote you a specific fee without first spending the time to get to know you. With that as a caveat, we prefer to work with on an Open Retainer basis because this allows clients to develop a sound financial plan, fully-implement it and refine it over time as circumstances inevitably change. In addition, this provides the additional value clients can choose to receive from our ongoing investment management and tax preparation services, the cost of which is already included in the Open Retainer. The fee for the Open Retainer is determined by income, assets and the complexity of the work involved. The fee is payable quarterly and is generally is higher in the initial year and reduces somewhat it future years. The Open Retainer fees begin at $3,000 annually but can be a multiple of this amount. If these fees strike as expensive, we ask you to consider three things.
- High-quality financial advice is generally far more valuable than its cost since such advice can have a material impact on your well-being for years to come.
- For those who have already established significant investment portfolios for which they are looking for someone to help provide investment advice, the cost of the Open Retainer is likely to be significantly less than what a percentage-of-assets-under-management based financial advisor would charge.
- The service being provided with the Open Retainer agreement is quite broad. It isn’t limited to the investments you’ve asked us to take responsibility for day-to-day oversight; it also includes other investments at your bank, in investment accounts you manage on your own or in your current or former employer’s 401(k) or 403(b) accounts, defined contribution pension or profit sharing plans. It isn’t limited to insurance issues. Or college funding issues. Or tax planning issues and tax preparation services. Or estate planning issues. It includes all of these areas as well as anything else financially related that may come up during our relationship – such as decisions regarding whether to buy, finance or lease a car, whether or not to refinance an mortgage and what credit card you should carry.
Our goal is to always to provide value greatly in excess of the cost. We believe strongly that the Open Retainer provides tremendous value to clients both in ways that are easy to measure and in ways that are not like your own “peace of mind.” For clients who have the need for only a Limited-Scope engagement, the fee will vary based on the specifics of the project and could be either a fixed amount or an hourly-based fee if it is difficult to assess the work upfront. For clients seeking solely a Financial Review there is a flat fee of $1,000 for a single two-hour meeting that includes some fact-finding, analysis and recommendations. The scope and depth of Financial Reviews is by definition limited.
Do I have to come to your offices to meet?
We are happy to meet with clients at our offices but we understand that for many clients time can be so precious that it can be very difficult to get away from other commitments. While we are also glad to hold meetings via video conference or by phone, we have found that it is best to meet as much in-person during the first year as possible. In addition, if we are working with a couple – whether married or not – then it is important for both of them to be involved in the meetings together.
Do you offer a complimentary initial consultation?
Yes. Central Park Financial Planning provides prospective clients with an initial three-step process which is complementary. First, we schedule an initial 15 minute telephone conversation to determine if your financial needs are a fit for our services. Assuming there is a fit, we will schedule an hour appointment to meet in person at one of our offices. This meeting provides the opportunity for us to get to know each other to see whether we think we will work together and allows us to dig deeper into your financial priorities and concerns. Finally, for people for whom the Open Retainer relationship seems most appropriate, we meet for a third time where we present our fee in writing and provide initial recommendations. There is absolutely no charge or obligation for these three meetings.
What is the next step?
The easiest way to move forward is to schedule a “15-minute Introductory Call” by visiting the “Make an Appointment” page. We can also be reached via phone or email provided on the contact page. If you are not yet ready to move forward but would like to keep in touch, please feel free to sign up for my Comprehensive Financial Planning Blog as well as the Financial Focus Newsletter.