Frequently Asked Questions
There are many choices for financial advice. Why should I work with you?
There are many great financial advisors out there! You should talk with several to understand their 1) philosophy, 2) areas of expertise, and 3) fee structure. I am a fee-only advisor, who emphasizes advice-centric, comprehensive planning (as opposed to managing assets). This means I focus on helping align a client's financial decisions with their personal goals and values. I bring a lifetime of business and financial training and experience – including from the school of hard knocks. See my bio here. Finally, as a fee-only firm, New Phase Financial's pricing is transparent and based solely on services I provide to you – regardless of how much you own or owe.
Who do you typically work with?
I typically focus on two demographics: 1) retirees, pre-retirees and mid-to-late career individuals and families who are contemplating major financial decisions, such as saving for college or planning for retirement; and 2) early-career individuals and young families (often the children of the first group!), who are still establishing a financial foundation and starting to build wealth. I offer services that cater to each of these groups. Click here to review the services offered by New Phase Financial.
What is a financial plan?
A financial plan is a document, delivered on paper and electronically, that serves as a road map for your financial life. It provides an analysis of your current circumstances and a set of easy-to-understand recommendations to help you achieve your financial goals. At New Phase Financial, financial plans are developed following an industry- standard process laid out by the Certified Financial Board and other industry institutions. For information on the financial planning process, please click here.
How does New Phase Financial make money?
Fees are paid by clients for advice and expertise only. I receive no commissions or finders fees from recommending “products” (such as investments or insurance) or by introducing clients to industry experts (such as an Estate Attorney or CPA). I also do not invest client funds and so do not take a percentage of assets under management.
For new clients, I charge a flat fee for developing a financial plan. The fee is based on the complexity of a client's situation. At the end of the initial planning engagement, I offer a Financial Wellness Program that provides ongoing professional advice and support. The program includes behavioral coaching (helping you stick to your plan), periodic plan updates, and a login to world-class financial software, where a client can see current balances and track progress. Pricing for the Financial Wellness Program is also based on the complexity of a client's financial profile and is billed monthly (fee of $50-$300/month). Click here for pricing and comparisons of all planning services offered by New Phase Financial.
Do you meet in-person or virtually?
Both. I try to meet clients based on their preferences. Recently, this means most client engagements are via phone calls or Zoom. While New Phase Financial does not currently maintain permanent office space, I also meet clients in their homes or at leased office space in the San Diego or Southern California area. For clients outside of southern California, we would meet via Zoom.
Do you invest my money for me?
No. I do not actively manage investments/portfolios. Rather, I focus on providing personalized financial advice and helping clients put recommendations into practice. In fact, industry research from Morningstar*** suggests that optimal financial decisions (i.e. dynamic retirement withdrawal strategies, total wealth allocation and tax efficiency) are likely to have more impact on a client's wealth than active "security selection and portfolio construction." That said, please note that financial planning services at New Phase Financial always include baseline investment/portfolio recommendations. These recommendations focus on creating a simple, diversified portfolio (typically using low-cost, index ETFs/mutual funds) appropriate to a client’s goals and risk capacity. And don't worry if you don't understand all of the jargon in this answer; I'll explain it to you! If you still have question about how I help clients invest for the future, please feel free to schedule a complimentary call to discuss.
I don’t understand a lot of financial jargon. Will you help me to organize and understand my finances?
Yes! A teacher at heart, I have a strong bias toward lifelong education. I will ALWAYS take time to explain financial concepts in simple terms and explain what these concepts mean for your plan. For those interested in going further, I am happy to recommend books, podcasts and other resources to help build the knowledge and confidence you need to understand and manage your financial life.
Are you a fiduciary?
Yes! I follow the Fiduciary Standard laid out by the Certified Financial Planning Board. As a fiduciary, I am required to uphold a variety of training and ethical standards, focusing on the importance of putting client’s interest above all else and avoiding conflicts of interest. A fiduciary also continuously educates him/herself on the latest developments in financial planning and planning practices.
Do you require a minimum of assets to work with a client?
No. I am happy to work with any anyone committed to improving their financial life – regardless of how much they own or owe. With New Phase Financial, my goal is to help clients navigate complex financial topics and achieve their financial goals.
Why are you called “New Phase Financial?”
We live in a state of constant change, transitioning from one phase of life to another. Along the way, we face a stream of financial challenges - when we change a job or relationship, when we have children, when a loved one gets sick, when a business begins or ends, when the stock market goes up down, when kids move out, when retirement looms. I believe having a financial plan - aligning decisions and behaviors with values and goals – is the best way to limit worry, build confidence and achieve peace-of-mind. At New Phase Financial, I want clients to spend LESS time thinking about money and more time on building a unique and meaningful life.
Key Concepts Defined:
Values: core beliefs and priorities to live one’s life by. Some values that might drive your financial goals include, “belief in education as a way to improve one’s life” (so save for college), “delaying gratification for future goals” (don’t buy that new car today but save more for retirement), etc. Said another way, our values clarify "why" something matters, while our goals tell us "how/what" we need to do to achieve or reflect those values.
Goals – specific financial objectives that should align with one’s core values. A goal to “Save $100K over 10 years in a 529b education account for both of my children” is a specific goal, and it aligns with the value of “believing that education leads to a better life.” Likewise, “giving $300 every month to my aging mother” is a goal that reflects the value of family or filial piety.
Trade-offs – For most of us, money is a finite resource, which means we often must choose to use money for one purpose while forgoing another. Buy a new car or a buy a used car and save the difference? Spend more now or save to spend more later? There are financial "text book" answers, but the right answer is the one you can live with. My goal is to help define what is right for you.
Actions and Behavior(s) – Many of you will have heard of the growing field of “behavioral finance,” the study of how people behave in real-world circumstances. The critical point here is that even if you have a solid financial plan, it will be meaningless if you act/behave in ways that are contrary to that plan. For example, if you panic-sell your stocks whenever the market drops 5%, your behavior could end up undoing your plan. My commitment to clients is to go beyond recommendations and encourage actions/behaviors that will lead to long term success. I like to say that being a “behavioral coach” is part of the job.
*** “Alpha, Beta, and Now ... Gamma,” by David Blanchett and Paul Kaplan, Morningstar.com, Aug. 28, 2013.