Frequently Asked Questions



 

How do I know if SWA is right for me?

Read through our website and come meet us! Working with a financial advisor is a relationship and it is important to find a team of professionals with the proper background and personality. Our ideal client is someone who is:

1)      Committed to the financial planning and investment management process

2)      Committed to fostering the advisory relationship through open and ongoing communications

3)      Someone who understands and agrees with our investment philosophy

4)      A patient investor

 

What is a Fiduciary and why is it important?

Under the fiduciary standard, financial firms and professionals are required to act in the best interests of their clients and to disclose conflicts of interest. The fiduciary standard also requires that financial professionals and financial firms not put maximizing their own compensation and earnings ahead of their clients' interests.

Unfortunately, the fiduciary standard by law only applies to a subset of key players in the financial services industry. Many (brokers and agents) are, instead, subject to the lower suitability standard.

Ask yourself, why would you want to trust your hard-earned assets to someone who is not held to this higher standard? Strategic Wealth Advisors acts as a Fiduciary of your assets and we always put our clients' interests first.

 

Fee only is the same as fee-based, right?

NO! While some may use these terms interchangeably, they are NOT THE SAME. Fee-only means we collect fees only from our clients and no one else. Fee-based means you pay a fee for the service, just as you do with fee-only, but the advisor may also collect fees from other sources including mutual fund and insurance companies. Herein lies the biggest difference between the two. If your advisor is collecting fees from an investment company in addition to you, we believe they have a conflict of interest. As a fee-only firm, Strategic Wealth Advisors attempts to eliminate such conflicts so that we can offer solid advice based on your needs, not ours.

 

How do I choose the advisor at SWA with whom I work?

We consider ourselves a TEAM.   We typically assign two advisors to each prospect based on known facts about the prospect and our advisorsí areas of expertise. Then, during the initial stages, we find most clients will gravitate toward one of these two advisors, based on comfort level and personality. This often becomes the primary point of contact for the relationship. Of course, our entire team remains available to assist each client and will often alternate communications with the client depending on the financial circumstances.

 

What is SWAís minimum portfolio size?

For clients seeking full investment management, goal setting and coordinated wealth management, we typically look for a minimum of $750,000 in assets. Most SWA clients have $1-3 million in investable assets.

 

Iím just starting to save money. Can I still work with you?

Of course! We offer several programs for our clients. For those just starting out, we can work with you to map out a plan and begin a relationship that will help you with future financial decisions. We typically start with a few data gathering meetings and then meet to review recommendations. We charge for these services by the hour and most projects run between $3,500 and $5,000 the first year and then significantly less thereafter, depending upon your needs. Consider this an investment in your future! The right roadmap will help you attain your financial goals and will quickly pay for itself.

 

Do you prepare taxes?

While we have a tax background (2 of our 3 advisors came out of public accounting and one is a CPA), we do not prepare tax returns. However, we review each of our clientís tax returns to gain a better understanding of their financial situation. Our knowledge of taxation allows us to more efficiently manage portfolios and help clients make tax planning decisions. We work closely with our clients' CPAs to help minimize taxes and maximize after-tax returns.

 

Do you set up wills and trusts?

While we have an extensive knowledge of estate planning, we do not prepare legal documents. We prefer to work together as a team with highly qualified attorneys to ensure that a clientís plan fits his/her needs.

 

What does your Wealth Management Program cost?

Each client situation is unique and so are our services.  As such, we prefer to consult with prospective clients via telephone or an in person meeting to identify areas in which we can help. We then outline the estimated costs of doing business together. Most portfolios begin at 1% of assets per year with progressive reductions at higher asset levels. To view our standard rate schedule, please see our Form ADV found on our website.

 

Are your services tax-deductible?

The Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A. It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return. Please consult with your tax preparer regarding the impact to your individual situation.

 

What investment vehicles do you typically use?

Before we recommend any investment, we consider your objectives, tolerance for risk, current economic conditions, the outlook for a specific asset class or type of security and how the investment fits within your portfolio. As fiduciaries for our clients, we strive to obtain the most appropriate investment vehicles to meet your objectives, while being conscientious of total expenses and risk exposure.

SWA typically uses no-load mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), individual bonds and private money managers, with the majority of our client assets invested in no-load mutual funds and ETFs. We consider ourselves a manager of managers and seek out strategies with reasonable expenses, strong relative performance, competent management and research skills and a keen understanding of markets and economies.

 

Why donít you invest in individual stocks?

The markets are constantly changing and we are living in a very different investment arena than in the past. We believe it is important to create a diversified portfolio with different asset classes and then find experts in each area of investing. By allowing the experts to do their job and search the world over for the best possible opportunities, we can spend our time ensuring that the portfolios and financial plans we create help our clients achieve their goals.

 

I hear it is bad to layer fees. If you arenít trading the stocks and instead are selecting funds and managers, arenít I paying too much?

Investment costs are a critical component of a portfolio and if you arenít careful with them, they can easily sap your portfolio return. We only use cost-effective investment strategies and make portfolio decisions with an eye toward total portfolio costs. Most individuals investing on their own with mutual funds are paying between 1.75% and 2.5%, depending on the investments they select. Many of our investment strategies are geared toward institutional rather than retail investors and as such are heavily discounted. At the end of the day, we aim to keep our fees low enough so you arenít paying any more than you would if you did it on your own but now you have an amazing team of experienced investment professionals behind you who understand your needs and concerns and can walk you through every financial season in life. Not a bad deal if you ask us!

 

I like to watch and trade my own stocks sometimes. Can I do this with you?

Yes. If you have an interest in managing a portion of your assets, you are more than welcome to do this. To help us effectively do our job, however, we request that such trades take place in an account outside the one we are managing.

 

If the market is down, will you get me out before it gets too low?

We are not market timers and do not attempt to predict the market. While we will make tactical allocations within our portfolios based on current market conditions, we will never liquidate an entire portfolio in anticipation of a market crash. We believe that cautious and patient investing will pay off in the long-run.

 

Can I keep my assets in my current brokerage account?

So that we can provide the full range of services needed to manage your accounts, we ask that your investments be held in one of several custodians including Charles Schwab and Fidelity. If they are already at one of these providers when we begin working together, we work with you to complete the paperwork necessary to add limited authority to the accounts for trading and information purposes.

For retirement accounts held through an employer plan, we work with you to obtain the data necessary to monitor such accounts.

 

If you custody assets at Charles Schwab or Fidelity, do you work for them?

No we do not and our compensation is not tied to them in any way. Charles Schwab and Fidelity offer services to our clients just as they do any retail client but through their Institutional divisions. These divisions are geared toward working with advisors like us to help our firm efficiently and effectively manage your portfolio.

 

Who is on your client list?

Our client relationships are confidential. However, if you would like to speak with an existing client about our services, we can discuss your situation and then offer references we believe might be helpful in your due diligence.

 

© Strategic Wealth Advisors, LLC