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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 for the first year and $2,000 thereafter but can be a multiple of this amount. If these fees strike as expensive, we ask you to consider three things.
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 $900 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.
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.
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.
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.
A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, more commonly known as a CDFA®, is a financial professional who has received specialized training regarding the financial issues related to divorce. CDFAs are specially trained to help clients analyze and understand their current income, expenses, assets and liabilities, their financial requirements going forward and any tax issues embedded in the alternative divisions of property or future support payments being considered. CDFAs help educate their clients and empower them to make better decisions about their future.
The goal of a CDFA is help clients and their attorneys arrive at an equitable settlement which meets the personal needs of their family. Once signed, settlement agreements cannot be changed. Hiring a CDFA can save both time and money by providing access to the financial expertise required to make a good decision regarding a settlement. CDFAs understand:
Supported by this knowledge, CDFAs use specialized software, graphs and spreadsheets to assess the needs and resources of both parties involved in a divorce. They can:
Ultimately having better information and analysis is much more likely to result in the needs of both parties and any children being adequately addressed.
Generally it is best to begin working with a CDFA as early in the divorce process as possible. The average divorce process in the United States takes about one year. One often begins to consider the financial aspects and related terminology of a divorce before even finalizing the decision to move forward. A CDFA can help you to understand these matters quickly and efficiently. A financial analysis conducted early in the process is likely to save time and reduce any anxiety by giving you a clearer picture of your finances. Once settlement discussions have begun, it is important to make sure proposals do not simply move back and forth between attorneys without a clear understanding of the financial ramifications embedded within them. Otherwise, the process risks becoming time consuming and expensive. A CDFA can help you to quickly understand what alternative settlement proposals would mean for your finances.
Accountants and financial planners frequently excel in their chosen field but they rarely have training specifically related to the financial issues of a divorce. Accountants, typically designated as a CPA in the United States, tend to focus on analyzing what has already occurred by created historical financial statements and historical tax returns. They generally do not make future projections. If they do, they generally focus on at most one or two years in the future. In a divorce, their role is likely to be limited to performing an audit of the books and records of a business or performing forensic accounting activities in an effort to uncover “hidden assets.” Financial planners assist single, married, divorced and widowed clients to achieve their financial goals. While they do perform an inventory of assets and liabilities and make financial projections, they generally do not have the specialized knowledge of divorce, do not focus in detail on future expenses or do not have the software tools needed to create the financial statements required by courts or to forecast the ramifications of alternative settlement scenarios. To meet the needs of someone going through a divorce, one needs a different set of skills which led to the creation of the CDFA designation. The role of a CDFA is to work with clients and their attorneys to understand how financial decisions made today are likely to have an impact on them going forward so the clients can make informed, divorce-related decisions about their future.
Attorneys are trained in the law and those who focus on family law issues have experience in the legal aspects of divorce. Your legal advisors can help you to understand your legal rights and obligations under the law, make arguments on your behalf advocating for positions in settlement discussions or in court and can help draft agreements or recommend the language for court orders in order to achieve a specific outcome. Attorneys generally are not trained in finance or the financial aspects of divorce nor do they spend significant time focusing on them. While they often can help put together any required financial statements, given their cost and their skills, generally this is not a particularly cost-effective way to create them. In addition, attorneys are very unlikely to work with you in detail to understand your future financial requirements or to forecast over many years the financial implications of a variety of settlement alternatives. Divorce finance simply is not their area of specialty. Most divorce attorneys, in fact, welcome the addition of a CDFA® to the team. They can focus on the legal issues rather than spending time trying to figure out the financial ones. A CDFA can provide them (and you) a complete financial report including a detailed written portion explaining all relevant financial facts they will need to provide you high-quality legal advice related to your particular situation. Working with a CDFA typically lowers the cost of a divorce and enhances the quality of the outcome.
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