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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of clients do you typically work with?

We can work with you wherever you are in life, but we find that our services tend to appeal to international professionals, business owners (including self-employed) and families with college-bound children. We'd love to work with you if you want help making the most out of your financial life; whether that's help with making smarter moves related to your personal finances, or crafting and putting into action a financial plan that puts you in control of your financial life. We have the expertise and experience to help you get there; we call it "planning for life."

If you're ready to start a conversation about your financial life, please schedule a consultation meeting.

How will you work with me?

We work with clients on an hourly basis and we do not require account minimums.

We can work with you on an as-needed or project basis. We track the time we spend working with you in person, as well as behind the scenes, and bill for those services monthly in arrears. We track our time by the minute.

If the work is a project (for example, reviewing your portfolio), we will give you an estimate of the cost of the project. The cost of the project is dependent on the complexity of your financial situation and the scope of the project work. The engagement letter outlines the anticipated scope of work, the expected cost range of the engagement and the deliverables to be given at the end of the project. Please note that, unless agreed to otherwise, project work is not a flat or fixed fee arrangement; the actual cost of services provided could be MORE or less than what is quoted in the engagement letter.

We believe that ongoing financial planning offers the most benefits to clients because life changes over time and so do one's personal finances (and tax situation!). By maintaining an ongoing relationship, clients are able to keep on top of their finances more easily, stay motivated to implement recommendations, and perhaps most importantly: AVOID COSTLY MISTAKES.

If you reside in Houston, we can meet you at a place that is convenient for you. If you reside outside of Houston - and even if you live in Houston - we can conduct meetings via video conference or phone call. We are available on-call to help you with urgent financial matters; we aim to respond to emails and phone call messages within 24 hours unless it's the weekend or a U.S. holiday.

If you're ready to start working on your financial future, please schedule a consultation meeting.

How does the financial planning process start?

There are several ways we can work with you, but two popular options are as follows.

The first option is an "ask us anything" format where you meet with us to ask questions about anything you'd like financial guidance on.

The second option is a personalized financial plan like this one that is tailored to your specific financial situation. In preparing your financial plan, we will meet with you to understand your financial goals and objectives (we use the Kinder method of financial life planning), and securely collect information such as your most recently filed tax return, brokerage statements, insurance policies, employee benefits guide and other information that will help us see your financial picture. Should you wish to engage us to help you put your plan into action, we would be happy to work with you. Fees for plan implementation services are separate and distinct from the creation of the financial plan and will be subject to a new engagement letter.

Please note that we require a client-signed engagement letter before we will begin working with you. Additionally, we may require a retainer, which is an upfront payment of fees, before we start any work.

If you're ready to start on your personalized financial plan or would like to try out the "ask us anything" option, please schedule a consultation meeting.

How much do your services cost?

To prepare a personalized financial plan, as described in the section above, typically costs around US$4,500 for a single person and US$5,500 for a couple. Our hourly rate starts at US$450 for comprehensive planning services and goes up to US$900 for project planning services.

We believe that charging for our services using a time-based method (i.e., "hourly") is the fairest and most transparent way to price our services.  Many professional services are priced based on the amount of time spent working on behalf of a client (e.g., lawyers and accountants).  When compared to commission or asset-based fee structures (these types of fee structures are called "fee-based" in industry parlance), time-based pricing can be significantly lower in cost than fee-based. For example, if you were to work with a traditional wealth management firm, they will usually have a minimum investment amount and typically charge 1% per year of the value of the assets they are managing for you. So, if you have a $1 million dollar investment portfolio that is professionally managed by a wealth management firm, the firm will charge you a fee of $10,000 per year--assuming your account value stays level, over a ten-year period you'll have paid $100,000! 1% may not seem like a lot, but it can be a significant drag on your investment returns over time. We do not charge asset-based fees, nor do we require account minimums.

If you want to get a jump-start on your financial life, please schedule a consultation meeting.

How do you estimate the cost of financial planning services?

We estimate the cost of planning services based on the amount of time we anticipate meeting with you and putting together deliverables (if applicable). Complex planning needs usually require more time than basic planning needs. For example, if you are married or have a partner, own a business and/or rental properties, or utilize trusts, then your financial situation is likely a lot more complex than someone who is single and has a steady salary. Therefore, the former can expect to pay more for financial planning services than the latter. 

If you'd like to see our services in action, please schedule a consultation meeting.

What do the terms "advice only," “fee-only,” and “fiduciary” mean?

"Advice-only" means that we do not manage investments or charge clients based on how much they have to invest, which can create more inherent conflicts of interest and limits who we can serve. Advice-only is a very small but growing movement in financial services that is a subset of the fee-only dictum (see below).

"Fee-only" means that we do not sell financial products, nor do we receive commissions or referral fees. We are solely compensated by the fees you pay directly to us for the services we render to you. While no compensation structure can remove all potential conflicts of interest, we believe that being fee-only and advice-only greatly reduces conflicts of interest between what's in your best interest and what's in our best interest. Along those same lines, the term "fiduciary" means that we must always put your interests ahead of our own. 

If you'd like to work with an adviser who always has your best interests at heart, please schedule a consultation meeting.

Will you prepare my tax return(s)?

We do not usually prepare personal or business tax returns. We would be happy to refer you to a tax professional if you are looking for tax compliance help. In the rare instances that we do prepare tax returns, the cost of those services is separate and distinct from the cost of financial planning and investment advisory services. We do offer tax consulting services on a stand-alone basis. 

If you'd like some tax planning advice that is tailored to your unique financial situation, please schedule a consultation meeting.

Will you manage my investments?

We can advise clients on investments that are appropriate for them based on various factors such as their risk profile, investment time horizon, and investment objectives. We do not typically manage clients' investments. We believe that clients are best served by managing their own investments with guidance from us. If you'd like someone to manage your money, we'd be happy to refer you to one or more qualified investment advisors.

If you'd like help with your investments, please schedule a consultation meeting. 

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