How do you differentiate between financial planners?

There are three key components to look at. Look for a financial adviser who is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP). They’re licensed and regulated, plus take mandatory classes on different aspects of the financial planning process. Consider the planner’s pay structure. A retirement planner who earns money based on commission rather than a flat, hourly rate could have an incentive to steer you in a particular direction. Read the code of ethics that your financial planner adheres to. Look for the word “fiduciary” and language that requires planners to look after your best interests. You don’t want to confuse planners with stockbrokers.

What is a fiduciary?

In short, this means the money managers have pledged to act in a client’s best interests at all times. Financial planner services and Investment professionals who aren’t fiduciaries are often held to a lesser standard, the so-called “suitability standard.” That means that anything they sell you merely has to be suitable for you, not necessarily ideal or in your best interest. This point is critical, and should be a deal breaker if a prospective financial management planner is not a fiduciary. As fiduciaries, we at Wealth Analytics have the legal as well as ethical responsibility to follow prudent investor practices as well as serve the client’s best interest.

Who is a typical Wealth Analytics client?

Since every situation is unique, there is no such thing as a typical client. However, many of our clients want to know if they are in a position to retire safely. They have created a successful business or career and they want to know if retirement is a realistic option. Typically, they would like both investment planning and financial planning services help.

Is Wealth Analytics different than the Wall Street firms I see advertising on TV?

Yes, Wealth Analytics is an independent fee-only, fiduciary advisor. We do not sell products or collect commissions. Unlike stock brokers and insurance agents, we act as fiduciaries on behalf of our clients.

Can you work with my insurance agent or accountant?

Yes, we are happy to work with your professional advisors. If you need to find a professional advisor or attorney, we are happy to refer you to one.

What is your basic approach to investments?

We build globally diversified portfolios of stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate. We focus on broad diversification and moderate fees, and use both passive and active investment vehicles.

Can I incorporate my existing investments into the investment plan created by Wealth Analytics?

Yes, we can include your legacy investments into our investment plan. We can also incorporate your investment ideas going forward.

What if I only want help with a particular question, such as what is the best way to allocate my 401k management plan or the best approach to taking Social Security benefits?

Wealth Analytics offers advice on an hourly basis with a minimum fee of $500.

Do you work with clients who live outside the U.S.?

Yes, we have clients who live outside the U.S. One of our advisors speaks Spanish as his first language, and has considerable experience working with both the Mexican and Spanish financial industries.

I have a fear of running out of money in retirement. What can you do to help me feel more comfortable in retirement?

An excellent question, running out of money is the number one fear for retirees. To address this we do a detailed study of a client’s financial resources including: retirement income, assets, pensions, Social Security and possible inheritances. We then do the same study of all of your expenses. From here, we can create a financial model that tests the probability of success in retirement. Ultimately we can determine the rate of return required on all assets for a client to live happily ever after. We then track investment performance (some other assumptions as well, including taxes, spending, etc.) to determine if a client is on track. Using this methodology with regular reviews allows us to help clients make adjustments throughout their life to protect against running out of money. If you are a business owner, we help with business succession planning to maintain income and minimize liabilities from the business after you retire.

It seems the markets are rigged against small investors. Interest rates are so low and the economic environment is sketchy. How can we get a real return on assets so we can retire?

We do believe it is possible to get real return to allow our clients to retire. However, there are many landmines to avoid. Wall Street, many asset management companies, and large banks do not operate with their client’s best interest in mind. Rather, they operate under a lower standard of suitability. These firms are hugely profit-oriented and sometimes pay obscene compensation to their employees. This can come at the expense of their clients. Wealth Analytics does operate under a fiduciary standard. Our sole purpose is to help our clients navigate the transition to financial independence and keep them there. We view ourselves as partners with our clients to protect them from the minefields. Finally, our investment process is not wholly reliant on macro-economic issues for success. We have systems in place that are designed to help our clients in both good markets and bad. As an asset management firm, we can’t insulate clients against huge market events like 2008, but we can try to create cash flow management portfolios that will ride through those storms.

We have questions about Social Security and have heard there are ways to maximize these benefits. Can you help with these issues? How about Medicare vs. HMO and supplemental plans?

Yes, we can provide answers to virtually all Social Security questions. Health care choices are critical questions to answer, and we can educate you about your options. We do not sell insurance but we do have a network of people we can refer to for placement of the proper plan for your situation. You should also know that we do not receive any compensation from the referral source. We merely vet the providers to find people who can help our clients most effectively.

We have to make choices about employer pension plan options. These seem very complicated. Should we cash out our plan or take monthly income for life and is a joint payout the right option?

Again, these are all excellent questions, and each situation must be analyzed separately. Generally, we like the idea of an income from a pension that you cannot outlive. This would be particularly true if the pension offers a Cost of Living Adjustment. Joint payouts are actually required in California unless a spouse waives that right through a notarized authorization. Surprisingly, this is not always the best choice, but we can help you determine if it is right for you.

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