January 2, 2024 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for January 2, 2024

What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

Listen in to learn about the three major types of financial advisors and what each offers you. You will also learn about categories of our Wealth Integrated Management System: specialized investment strategy, a retirement-focused financial plan, tax strategy, estate planning, and other ever-evolving elements to cater to our clients’ needs.


What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

You may already have a financial advisor or are shopping for one, but you may not know what you’re getting for the fee that you’re paying. We’re going to try our best to outline multiple categories of fees to help you get your head around what different advisors may charge and why.

Reviewing 2023 in your Retirement

Listen in to learn the different episodes with information about what you need in retirement, including a power of attorney, estate planning, retirement income strategies, and more. You will also learn about the episodes on long-term care planning options, plus the basics of continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

Reviewing 2023 in your Retirement

Every week, we have podcasts come out, and as new listeners find us, it can get very tedious to find all the resources we provide. This week we have prepared an End of 2023 wrap up to highlight some of the episodes from this year. 

Reviewing 2023’s Episode List

What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

You may already have a financial advisor or are shopping for one, but you may not know what you’re getting for the fee that you’re paying. We’re going to try our best to outline multiple categories of fees to help you get your head around what different advisors may charge and why.

What are You Getting for the Fee You Pay an Advisor?

Fees vary greatly from one type of advisor to another. We’re not going into this saying one fee is good or one is bad. For example, if I said I bought a $3,000 car, what would you think? You would assume it’s not the latest model on the market and doesn’t have a backup camera, lane assist, or any of the fancy features a higher-end vehicle might have.

A $50,000 car will have all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all those features.

Financial advisor fees are very similar. Lower fees often mean that you’re doing more, and the advisor is doing less for you. But if you don’t need some services or don’t mind having a hands-on approach to retirement planning, then the lower fees are perfect.

With this in mind, let’s dive into the meat of the fee world.

Fees in the World of Financial Advisors

You may come across the following fees when working with a financial advisor:

Transactional Fee

An hourly fee is exactly what it sounds like. You pay an hourly rate in a pay-as-you-go type of scenario. The planner may also have a set fee for certain services. In many cases, you’ll meet with this person once or twice per year, and then you are responsible for executing the plan.

If you’re the type of person who does the following, transactional fees may be good for you:

  1. Does their own taxes
  2. Paints their own house
  3. Does their own yard work

Many people don’t want to build their own portfolio and would rather spend time with their family, but for others, it makes more sense to have a transactional fee.

Assets Under Management Fee

In an assets under management fee structure, you’re charged a percentage of the assets that you entrust under the advisor’s management. Fees can range anywhere from .3 or .4% to 2 or 2.5%.

So, if you have $1 million in assets that the person controls, your fee at a 2.5% rate would be $25,000 per year. 

Fees vary by region, investment strategy, types of assets and advisor.


In some scenarios, the advisor may be paid a commission for insurance products that they sign their clients up for or for stock purchases.

Assets Under Management Fees are the Most Common

As a financial advisor, we see that assets under management is the most common fee structure. While the range can be great, we see most advisors charging 0.75% – 2% fees, and the more assets under management, the lower the fee percentage will be.

What do you get for these fees?

Full-service or Concierge Service

You’ll pay the highest fee for this type of service, but you enjoy the most hands-off experience possible. You’re working with a specialist who handles your retirement planning and strategy for you.

In our business, we call this the integrated wealth management system and cover things like:

  1. Investment-How do we invest for a return with good risk management in place?
  2. Retirement-focused financial plan-We cover where you are today, Social Security, and whether you will have the money you need to reach your retirement goals. 
  3. Tax strategy-As you accumulate wealth, you have money in multiple buckets, and we want to pay attention to withdrawals and how that will impact you today and in the future. Minimizing your tax burden is really the goal for us in this regard. We can save some clients thousands of dollars by finding tax mistakes or employing other tax-saving strategies.
  4. Estate planning– In this category, we’re talking about wills, trusts, power of attorney, life insurance and more.

We also cover things like continuous care scenarios or long-term care, and it just keeps evolving. Our in-house Medicare Specialist works with our clients to help them onboard for Medicare, find the best solutions for them and really ease our clients’ minds in the long term.

If you’re not sure which fee structure is best for you, consider the following:

  • Lower fees mean that you take a hands-on approach
  • Higher fees mean that you take more of a hands-off approach

For our fee, we try to cover everything for our clients, from tax planning to Medicare and estate planning. You may not need this high of a level of service, but it’s often the difference between 0.75% and 2%.

So, when searching for a financial advisor, be sure to know exactly what you’re getting for your fee because it can be substantial.

Schedule a call to talk to us about our financial planning services.

December 11, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage. Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for December 11, 2023

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the retirement issues to consider as we approach the end of the year. As the year ends and another begins, it’s important to have a checklist to ensure you have things closed out for 2023 and things set up for 2024. Learn about tax planning strategies to look at, such as threshold tax brackets, qualified charitable distributions, donor-advised funds, and more. You will also learn the benefits of having a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contributing to 529 accounts at the end of the year.  

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

Can you believe that we’re close to the end of 2023 already? Before the year wraps up, it’s a good idea to address end-of-year items and work your way through a checklist of sorts. You can also reference this list in 2024, so if you’re seeing this post after the end of the year, it’s still going to be relevant to you.

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

Can you believe that we’re close to the end of 2023 already? Before the year wraps up, it’s a good idea to address end-of-year items and work your way through a checklist of sorts. You can also reference this list in 2024, so if you’re seeing this post after the end of the year, it’s still going to be relevant to you.

We’re going to walk you through:

  1. Things to do before the end of 2023
  2. Things to do for a good start of 2024

Note: We do have an actual checklist that you can work through. If you want to get that checklist, feel free to schedule a call with us or send us an email.

To Listen to this CLICK HERE

End-of-Year Issues to Handle Before 2023

You’ll want to work on your assets and debt issues. First, look at your unrealized investment losses. For example, perhaps you’re holding onto Apple stock and it’s a loss right now. You can sell the stock as a loss and leverage what is known as tax loss harvesting.

You can use these losses to:

  • Offset gains
  • Reduce your ordinary income by up to $3,000 a year
  • Losses beyond $3,000 will carry forward to offset income in future years

If you have capital gains, you can erase some of these gains by using tax loss harvesting. You can sell the stock and buy it back after a period of time. 

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

RMDs are something we talk a lot about on our podcast, and we have quite a few articles on the topic that you can review:

That being said, you’ll want to do a few things in terms of retirement planning with your RMDs. Based on your age, typically, if you’re in your early 70s, you’ll want to take your distribution before the end of the year.

Not sure if you need to take an RMD?

Discuss it with your financial advisor because distribution ages will vary based on when you were born

If you inherited an IRA or 401(k), you automatically have RMDs that you need to consider. Anyone who recently inherited one of these accounts will need to be sure that the account is empty within 10 years. You will need to consider whether (or not) you want to take an RMD on these accounts before the end of the year.

Tax Planning

The end of the year signals a lot of tax planning items that you’ll need to check off your list. A few of the most important things to consider are:

Do you plan on your income increasing significantly in the next year?

You can consider maximizing your Roth contributions going into the end of the year. If you’re over the age of 50, Roth IRA contributions max out at $7,500, and the Roth 401(k) maxes out at $30,000 in 2023 and will go up in 2024.

If you’re 59 1/2 or older, you can consider accelerating your IRA withdrawals since you’re in a lower tax bracket this year. You may also want to consider converting some of this money into a Roth account to leverage tax-free growth.

The annual deadline for Roth conversions is December 31st, however, you should get started on these before the beginning of December to give plenty of time for the process to be completed in your intended year.

Threshold Tax Brackets

Your adjusted gross income can push you into a higher tax bracket or impact your Medicare surcharges. Going back to tax loss harvesting, you may be able to leverage these losses to keep charges lower or avoid going into a higher tax bracket.

You need to be aware of your potential adjusted gross income.

If you’re reading this, reach out to your financial advisor and:

  • Ask what your adjusted gross income may be
  • Plan ahead, because your income amount now impacts your surcharges in the future

Medicare IRMAA surcharges will certainly impact your budget because you’re required to pay more for Medicare if surcharges are higher.

Are you charitably inclined?

If you like to donate to charity, it’s also an opportunity to help offset your tax burden. A lot of unique strategies can be employed in this realm. People who give money to charity can leverage:

  • Qualified charitable distribution, for anyone who is over 70 1/2. You can use one of these distributions to lower your tax burden. For example, if you take money from your IRA and have the check written straight to an approved 501(c)(3) charity so that it is never deposited to your bank account, the donated amount will not be reported as taxable income to you.
  • Anyone who reaches the age of RMDs (70 ½ or older) can also use this strategy. For example, if your RMD is $20,000, you can funnel $10,000 to charity using the same method above and only have $10,000 of your RMD be taxable.
  • Bunching contributions or setting up a donor-advised fund is also an option. For example, if you donate $10,000 a year to charity, it’s possible that you may not exceed the standard deduction and therefore, will not receive any tax benefit for your $10,000 donation. So instead, you can combine multiple years of donations together. If you were to combine 3 years of donating $10,000 a year into a one-time donation of $30,000, you can deduct the entire $30,000 in the year the donation occurs. This would give you a greater chance of exceeding the standard deduction and receiving a greater tax benefit by doing so.

Did you in 2023 or will you in 2024 receive a windfall?

If you receive a windfall, such as inheritance, lump sum payment, stocks, Roth conversion or some other major influx of money, you may need to make an estimated tax payment. If you don’t make one of these payments, the IRS can assess a penalty against you.

An estimated tax payment alleviates the penalty because if you’re within a certain percentage of what you owe, the IRS will be satisfied, and you can make any remaining payments at the time your taxes are filed.

A tax or financial advisor can help you with these estimated taxes.

Have there been any changes to your marital status?

If you got married or divorced, or your spouse passed on, it can have an impact on your taxes. Married filing single and married filing jointly are two very different things. Consulting with a tax professional about your situation can help you decide on how to handle your filing status this year.

You Have a Little Extra Money in the Bank

If you’ve had a good year and have made more money than expected, you may want to save some money. One thing that’s common is to put money into a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you are on a high-deductible health insurance plan.

For 2023, you’ll be able to put money into an HSA up to:

  • $3,850 if you’re single
  • $7,750 if you have a family health insurance plan
  • $1,000 extra if you’re over 55

These numbers will change in 2024.

The beauty of an HSA is that you can let the money in the account grow tax-deferred and then use the money for your medical needs. If you leave the money in the account until you’re 65, it can also act as a retirement fund.


If you didn’t max out your 401(k), you can put up to $22,500 in the account in 2023 and an extra $7,500 if you’re over 50.

Roth IRA

If you’re eligible, you can put money into a Roth account. You can pull the money out of this account if you need it in the future.

529 Account

If you have kids or grandchildren and want to fund their college education, you can put money into a 529 account for them. You can fund this account with a gift exclusion of $17,000. There’s also a strategy to get up to $85,000 out of your estate and into one of these accounts, but you should work with a tax professional on this strategy.


If you met your deductible for your insurance this year, try to get any of your medical needs met now because you won’t be paying for it. Working to get these procedures done now before you must pay your deductible again is an efficient means of using your insurance.

Depending on when you read this, don’t forget that open enrollment takes place in November and December.

Evaluate your Medicare and Supplement programs because there may be advantages to switching.

Estate Planning

Whether it’s the beginning or end of the year, you’ll want to focus on your estate plan. Review all your beneficiaries, including on your:

  • 401(k)
  • IRA
  • Brokerage account
  • Savings account

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve covered some main points that are really important going into the final weeks of the year.

Click here to request a checklist with all these key items.

September 5, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for September 5, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Integrated Wealth Management Experience in Retirement

Learn more about the elements of an integrated wealth management experience: a retirement financial plan, specific-to-the-client investment process, and tax planning. You will also learn how we’re involved in every step of the wealth management process, in-house or with a partner.


This Week’s Blog – Integrated Wealth Management

Integrated wealth management experiences are our way to help clients have the type of retirement planning assistance that is provided in a “family office.” If you don’t know what this term means or who it applies to, we’re going to cover that in great detail before explaining the concept of integrated wealth management to you.

Integrated Wealth Management Experience

Integrated wealth management experiences are our way to help clients have the type of retirement planning assistance that is provided in a “family office.” If you don’t know what this term means or who it applies to, we’re going to cover that in great detail before explaining the concept of integrated wealth management to you.

Note: Click here to listen to the podcast that this article was based on using Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music. 

What is a “Family Office?”

A “family office” caters to what can be considered ultra-high net worth. You have enough assets that you require an entire team to help manage your assets. These offices will help you with:

  • Family businesses
  • Taking care of budgets
  • Paying bills
  • Managing cash flow, credit cards, real estate

Individuals in a family office have assets of $50+ million. Anyone who falls into this category can be their “own client,” meaning that the entire team works for you to manage your wealth. Extensive assistance is offered, including tax and estate planning, to the degree that 99% of people will never require. You’ll also work with attorneys and CPAs.

All these employees work for you, they’re registered with the SEC, and they assist with managing your “family.” If a person has this high of a net worth, they may need to have a chief financial officer (CFO) who will handle hiring or working with certain experts to meet their family’s needs.

Often, with a family office, they have a CPA working with them full-time.

The family office works solely for the family and will handle all their financial and wealth management needs. If a lawyer needs to be hired to work on estate plans, that’s all handled for you behind the scenes.

Integrated Wealth Management Experience

In our office, our average client doesn’t have $100 – $200 million or a billion dollars. We can’t create a family office for these individuals, but we wanted to create a system that offered the same experience as a family office for all our clients.

What we devised is known as our integrated wealth management experience.

What Does an Integrated Wealth Management Experience Look Like?

Instead of working with one individual, we work with many and take on the role similar to a “CFO.” We look at the person’s entire financial picture and beyond to help you secure your retirement. We partner with multiple professionals on a range of services, in addition to in-house wealth management.

For simplicity, we’ll break this down into a few of our in-house and partnered services.

In-House Wealth Management

In-house, we specialize in wealth management. We are financial advisors, and fiduciaries- which means we’re required to put your best interests first. The majority of our clients are people close to or retirement, and we’re big on the retirement-focused financial plan.

In a few words, the retirement-focused financial plan:

  • Analyzes where you are today
  • Outlines retirement goals
  • Identifies changes that need to be made to reach your goals

Reaching your financial goals will often mean investing in some sort of return. We may invest in the market, bonds, annuities, or a wide range of other financial vehicles. We invest for a return that is comfortable for the client and is based on individual risk tolerance.

Next, we offer tax planning. Some of the tax planning is in-house and some of it is done by working with outside experts. We have checks and balances in place to understand:

  • What your taxes look like today
  • What strategies we can implement before the end of the year to lower the tax burden
  • What to do to save you money next year

We can also handle the tax return for you, and we have partnered with CPAs to lead this process. CPAs will also provide a stamp of approval for all the tax planning strategies that we prepare to ensure that everything moves along smoothly.

Our team helps clients understand where their income is coming from and ensures that their retirement-focused financial plan is operating to reach their goals.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a crucial part of retirement planning that folks really struggle to talk and think about. However, we incorporate this planning into the experience because it provides you with peace of mind that your estate matters are all handled in a legal manner.

Without an up-to-date estate plan, it can be difficult for you to leave assets in your desired way for heirs and beneficiaries. If you’ve had a major life change since you’ve created or looked at your estate plan, it is a good idea to have your estate plan professionally reviewed and updated. 

For our clients, we have a system in place for the state they live in to create a:

  1. Trust
  2. Will
  3. Power of Attorney
  4. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  5. HIPAA form

We believe this aspect of your retirement-focused financial plan is urgent, and strongly encourage our clients to review and update these documents on a regular basis.

Social Security

We work with a Social Security consultant, so our clients have an expert look at avoiding mistakes when filing for Social Security. Some clients have an easy process for Social Security, and we can help them apply for their benefits. However, other clients do not have as easy of a time.

Our consultant is on retainer and will help consider:

  • Complex decisions
  • Divorce
  • Optimizing for certain forms of income
  • Survivorship

She assists us when running the numbers for Social Security to help you make the best decision on when to take your benefits and how to reach your financial goals.


Insurance includes many different options, but one of the major ones is health insurance. When you retire, you’re responsible for your own health insurance, which will be Medicare.

Medicare can be overwhelming when it comes to options, plans, and thresholds. We work with our clients and partners to help them find the best Medicare options for their health scenario and budget. We may be able to structure things to avoid IRMAA surcharges on Medicare, too.

Additionally, we help clients during open enrollment to find plans that may be more affordable or a better overall option for them. 

Long-term Care Planning

Speaking of healthcare planning, we also dive into long-term care planning. Hopefully, you’ll never need this level of care, but you just never know what the future will hold for you. We recently had a podcast on long-term care planning.

We’ll analyze your long-term care options and even help you secure the insurance you need to pay for a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Life Insurance

We’ll work through the question of life insurance and how to structure it for you and your family. 

These are just some of the insurance options that we can use to help build our clients retirement-focused financial plan. As we’ve outlined, we do our best to mimic the “family office” so that it works in your best interests.

What Getting Started with Our Integrated Wealth Management Experience Looks Like

If you call us to discuss your options, we already have:

  • Ongoing, up-to-date research to aid in building plan for your goals
  • Multiple estate planning methods in place
  • Many in-house Insurance and Wealth Management strategy options

We’re involved the entire time, working to have all your questions answered. We will do the research with the estate planner or Social Security expert to have your questions answered.

Since we work with the outside experts, you bypass the extra step to make sure your financial, tax, and estate planning professionals are all on the same page when it comes to your retirement-focused financial plan. We’re very much involved with every aspect of your plan to help you make sound financial decisions.

Want to learn more about our Integrated Wealth Management Experience? Schedule a free call with us today.

What Happens to My Money if Something Happens to My Advisor?

Financial advisors can help you invest and manage your money. An advisor helps clients reach their long-term financial goals and often play an integral part in the retirement planning process. 

But there’s one question many clients have: what happens to my money if something happens to my advisor?

Your advisor opens your accounts, sends you reports and provides a hands-off way to secure your retirement. If these individuals die or become incapacitated, your money will still be safe and will still be your money.

What Happens to My Money if My Advisor Retires, Gets Sick or Dies?

As an advisor, 90% of our clients ask us this very question. It’s an excellent question to ask, and it’s one that we want to clear up for you. No matter who you’re working with, the logic and answers will be the same across the board.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s crucial to have a firm understanding of where your money is held.

Understanding Where Your Money is Held

When you work with us or any independent financial advisor, your money never enters our bank account. In fact, our name is never on the checks that you write. Instead, you assign us as an advisor on your account.

A third-party custodian will be where your money is held.

These custodians are massive financial institutions, such as Wells Fargo or Charles Schwab. The custodian will house your money, ensure everything is compliant and facilitate the trades.

As independent advisors, we:

  • Act on your behalf when dealing with a custodian
  • Never actually hold your money

If something happens to your advisor or us, your money will still be sitting in the custodian’s accounts that we created for you.

What Happens When Working with Big Financial Firms?

If you work with a big financial firm, you may assume that if your advisor is no longer working with the firm, you’ll be working with another internal advisor. And you will be working with another advisor, but it’s essential to understand that these firms operate in what’s called “teams.”

Teams have multiple advisors, so if something happens to the leading advisor, you’ll work with someone else in the company.

In fact, you’ll receive a call from your new advisor and will need to decide whether or not to work with the team without the advisor you had. Your money remains in place, and if you choose to leave the team, you can just transfer your money to another advisor.

So, in short: you won’t lose your money and can decide on what to do next with your portfolio.

Common Scenario Questions People Ask

Your money is important to you, and it’s essential to know the answers to common questions regarding your advisor:

What Happens if Your Main Advisor Dies?

First, you’ll get a new advisor. But the process will go something like this. You’ll receive a phone call and the new advisor:

  • Will explain that they have been assigned to your account
  • Likely have you come into the office to learn about him/her

You should ask to meet the advisor and go through the initial decision stages again, just like you did when choosing your original advisor. What this means is that you’ll want to:

  • Talk to the advisor and see whether your personalities match
  • Understand the advisor’s investment philosophy
  • Decide if the philosophy is good for you

If you’re working with teams in the same office, you can be relatively confident that their philosophies will match. You won’t even need to worry about the investment strategy if working with an advisor from the same team.

This is the best-case scenario.

When working within the same team, your biggest concern will be whether the new financial advisor is a good fit for you. If the advisor isn’t a good fit, you can switch to another member within the same team.

What Happens If Your Financial Advisor Retires?

Retirement scenarios are a little different than if someone quits, gets sick or even dies. If an advisor is retiring, they’ll let their clients know well ahead of time. There is a lot of planning that goes into the retirement process, so you have many options as a client.

Your advisor can also choose to retire and:

  • Sell their practice, in which case, you can begin working with the new team.
  • Let the current in-house team take over the account. The long-term advisor leaves, but you continue working with the team that you’ve known for years.

If you’re concerned about your advisor leaving, it’s important to ask about their continuity plan for your team. You can ask your current advisor this question and ask this question when looking for an advisor.

Most advisors will have a plan in place to help you transition if they get hit by a bus tomorrow.

And a lot of people will shop for a new advisor when they know that their name advisor is going to retire.

We’ve had potential future clients come into our office, vet us thoroughly and explain that they plan to stick with their current advisor until that individual retires. You can follow this same concept because, at the end of the day, it’s your money that a new advisor will need to handle.

You’re not restricted to working with just the team that your old advisor built either.

Final Note

You’ll work closely with an advisor, build trust and hopefully make a lot of money together. Then, if your advisor is hit by a bus or decides to quit tomorrow, there will be someone that can confidently fill their shoes.

Often, you’ll have the option of working with the advisor’s team that they were a member of to make the transition as fluid as possible. And in all cases, you’ll still have all the money you invested accessible to you.

Want to learn how you can secure your retirement? We have two great resources that we just know that you’re going to love and benefit from.Click here for our 4 Steps to Secure Your Retirement Course or listen to our Secure Your Retirement Podcast.

How Do Financial Advisors Get Paid?

When people come to us for financial advice, and particularly retirement planning, they have a very important question to ask: how do financial advisors get paid? You’re entrusting an advisor with your money, and you have a right to know how that person’s fees are structured.

A client might like everything we’re talking about, but they almost always ask how we’re getting paid.

We think it’s very important to know how an advisor is paid because it’s your money being invested. There are three traditional ways that financial experts may be paid:

3 Ways a Financial Advisor Can Be Paid

1. Commission

Commission-based payments have been around the longest, and there’s always some controversy here. Let’s say that an advisor recommends purchasing 100 stocks in Microsoft. He or she may be paid a commission on this purchase.

When someone handles your money, they may be paid commissions, which some clients aren’t happy about.

There are a lot of people that assume commission-based is bad because the advisor:

  • Is incentivized to sell you a product
  • Puts their interest first
  • Etc.

But this isn’t always the case. There are a lot of good products that are commissionable. In some cases, products are always commissionable. Life insurance, for example, is commissionable, and the insurer pays an advisor commission because they recommend the product.

There are times when an advisor can’t get away from the commission, but this doesn’t mean that the product is bad by any means.

An annuity, which pays out money in disbursements, is one that needs servicing. Since the advisor is servicing the annuity, the insurer will pay them a commission because servicing can last 10 years or more.

An advisor may receive a commission:

  • Once per buy-in and/or
  • Once per year, etc.

Mutual funds are another product where there are three different types:

  • A Shares
  • B Shares
  • C Shares

A shares are commissionable and provide an advisor with a certain percentage upfront. B shares don’t have upfront costs, but when you sell the shares, a charge is made and goes to the advisor.

There are also some mutual funds that pay a small commission to the advisor annually.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) also have commission attached to them. An advisor may be paid with an REIT in many ways:

  • Commission, which is most common. The advisor is paid by the REIT, but you’ll be required to keep the money in the trust for a specified period of time.
  • There are some REITs that don’t pay commission in the same way, which we’ll be talking about in the next sections.

It’s best to ask your advisor if they receive commission. Advisors may also have the option to waive a commission. For example, an A share commission can be waived.

Note: In the financial industry, the commissions are highly regulated. The financial advisor working on your retirement planning can’t do much in terms of changing the commission due to the strict regulation on these products.

2. Fee-only

Fee-only advisors can help you with retirement planning, and this classification means that the advisor cannot help you with a product that gives commission. For example, let’s assume that an advisor is looking through your retirement plan and thinks life insurance would be an amazing option for you.

As an advisor that offers fee-only services, it is required that refer you to someone else for this product because they cannot receive a commission on it.

This is a very restrictive space.

Fees can be:

  • Hourly fees
  • Flat rate
  • Asset-based (percentage of the funds or estate managed)

Asset-based fees are often preferred because as your estate or portfolio grows, the advisor is paid more. This type of fee structure makes sense for a lot of people because it’s in the best interest of the advisor to maximize your returns so that they’re paid more.

3. Fee-based

A fee-based advisor allows the individual to offer both commission and fee-only services, which offers the financial planner the most flexibility. If one of these financial professionals thinks that you may need life insurance, they can offer you this without needing to refer you to someone else.

In the broad spectrum, fee-based makes sense because the advisor can do everything for you.

But we recommend working with someone who is a fiduciary. 

What is a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is held to the highest standard. As a fiduciary ourselves, this means that we must take care of the client first. As a client, this provides you with the most protection.

When speaking to a financial planner who is fee-only or fee-based, any time that there’s a conflict of interest, such as a commission being paid for a product recommendation, it must be disclosed.

We work on a fee-based arrangement, and when we make a recommendation that has a commission, we have to disclose everything to the client.

Ultimately, commissions are built into rates, so there’s always some payment coming from the client. We believe as long as the advisor is upfront and you know all of the fees and/or commissions upfront, commissions are perfectly fine.

If you want more information about preparing your finances for the future or retirement, check out our complimentary Master Class, ‘3 Steps to Secure Your Retirement’. 

In this class, we teach you the steps you need to take to secure your dream retirement. Get the complimentary Master Class here.

What is a Fiduciary and Why Is It Important?

When searching for a financial advisor, you may have come across the term “fiduciary.” But what does it mean? And is it something you should check for before agreeing to work with a particular company or individual?

Choosing a financial advisor can be tricky. You want someone who will work hard for you, sourcing the right products and offering advice that you can rely on.

A fiduciary could be that person. They’re legally bound to put your interests first, regardless of how much they’ll make in return.

But that isn’t the complete picture. Not all financial businesses are fiduciaries, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust their advice.

In this post, we’re taking a detailed look at fiduciaries, including what they are, how they work, and why they could be the best option for your retirement plan.

You can watch the video on this topic above, or to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below. Or you can read on for more…

What is a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is a person or company that has a legal and ethical relationship of trust with another person. It’s a legal standard that holds financial advisors to account in their interactions with clients and customers.

The most important thing to remember about fiduciaries is that they must always act in their client’s interests. That means finding the best options based on the client’s requirements, regardless of the rate of commission they’ll receive for selling a certain product.

Fiduciaries are held to these standards through licensing and certification, including CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation. So, when you see a financial advisor with these letters, you know they’re held to fiduciary standards and would lose their accreditation if they breached them.

By now you may be thinking, why aren’t all financial advisors fiduciaries? Shouldn’t they all act in the best interests of their clients?

Well, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Fiduciary standards don’t work for every type of financial business, for reasons we’ll set out below.

What is suitability?

Suitability is the alternative to fiduciary. Think of it as a diluted version, wherein financial businesses aren’t held to the same strict standards.

Where fiduciaries always act in the best interests of their clients, suitability places more control in the hands of financial businesses. They don’t need to give the best advice and can recommend products based on commission, even if they’re not the best for the client.

That’s not to say financial advisors working within the suitability criteria are unethical. They still take into account a client’s requirements, and the products they recommend must align with their client’s financial goals.

But what kind of businesses and individuals would choose to work within the suitability criteria? And why do they choose not to adhere to fiduciary standards?

Typically, commission-based financial businesses are most likely to work to suitability standards. That’s because they need to make a certain rate of return, and so recommend products that are of more benefit to them than their clients.

This might sound questionable, but suitability is necessary to keep some businesses afloat. It’s also worth remembering that those working within the suitability criteria must consider their customer’s requirements; they can’t recommend poor products and bad deals.

For this reason, many suitability advisors take the stance of: “I’m not bound by the fiduciary law, but I treat my clients like I am.” This is a common practice but something you should take with a pinch of salt. After all, there’s a high likelihood that they’re benefiting from a sale as much as you are.

How do fiduciary and suitability compare?

To help you understand how fiduciary and suitability differ, here’s a helpful analogy showing how each model works in practice.

Let’s say you want to buy a new car for your family. The first dealership you visit recommends large saloons, station wagons, and SUVs, all at different price points. There’s no pressure to buy from the dealer, and you make a choice based on the information they’ve given.

Then, you visit another car lot. Here, the dealer recommends a car that, though suitable for a family, is slightly over your budget. However, they convince you that it’s the right car and you buy it even if it’s not the deal you were looking for.

Can you guess which was the fiduciary dealer and which was the suitability dealer?

That’s right, dealer one was a fiduciary. They offered lots of options that were suitable for families and didn’t recommend any cars that were over your budget to make more commission.

Dealer two was the suitability model. They had one or two suitable cars and used salesmanship to convince you to spend more, making more commission for themselves in the process.

Again, this might sound questionable, but it comes down to how a business is set up and the type of industry they work in.

A final word on fiduciaries and suitability

After reading this guide, you might be thinking that suitability advisors are all bad and fiduciaries are the only way to go – but don’t. Sure, you should be cautious about taking suitability advice at face value, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get a bad deal that doesn’t work for you.

At Peace of Mind Wealth Management, we choose to stay within the fiduciary arena because we believe it’s the best fit for our practice and our clients. Both Radon and Murs are accredited CFPs and are licensed investment advisors, meaning they’re legally bound by fiduciary standards.

If you’re looking for wealth management advice with the assurance of fiduciary accreditation, we can help. Putting your needs at the heart of everything we do, our financial services can help you on your retirement journey.

We hope this guide on fiduciaries helps you think differently about your financial decision-making. Remember, if you need any advice or expertise, our financial specialists are here to help. Book a complimentary 15-minute call with a member of our team to discuss your retirement goals today.