The following list of 10 Key Questions comes from the CFP® Board's website: letsmakeaplan.org
Melissa Myers, CFP® professional in Grand Haven, Michigan shares her answers below:
1. What experience do you have?
- I began my career in 2000. As of December 2016 I have over 16 years experience serving clients. My approach from the beginning centered around planning. Providing strategies for the long term is how I still deliver advice
- My experience has included multiple election cycles, terrorist events, and periods of market volatility. A key principle I teach is to plan for the long term rather than react to short term crises
- I've worked as an advisor at a national wire house as well as a regional bank. In August of 2012 I opened my own practice where I am an independent advisor registered with LPL Financial
- My goal is longevity of client relationships
- According to author, Malcolm Gladwell, an expert is one who has over 10,000 hours dedicated to a particular subject. By this theory, my education and experience qualify me as an expert
2. What are your qualifications?
- I graduated from Grand Valley State University with a B.S. in Biology. While it isn’t a business or finance degree it equipped me to persevere, think analytically, and develop good testing skills
- A bachelor’s degree was necessary to get hired at Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor and is a requirement for the CFP® designation
- Being able to use the CFP® professional designation marks means that in addition to a degree and a minimum of 3 year's experience, I’ve gone through a year long pre-requisite curriculum and week long review course. I then took and passed a rigorous 2 day closed book exam. When I say rigorous…I’m serious. The exam has a 63% overall pass rate for exams administered in November 2016
- I hold the Series 7, 24, 53 and 66 securities licenses with LPL Financial as well as several insurance licenses
- In addition to required continuing education, I’m self-motivated to read, study, and attend industry events to keep current and effectively serve my clients in their wealth management needs
3. What financial planning services do you offer?
- Comprehensive personal financial planning
- Plans generally include chapters on retirement (both pre-retirement and post-retirement), education planning, risk management (insurance), major purchase planning, tax planning and estate planning. They all include cash flow reports and a statement of net worth
- I embrace technology. To effectively serve my clients, I subscribe to a highly specialized financial planning software; rather than using a yellow legal pad or a white board. Over time I'm able to build upon the data, by making updates to the plan facts, instead of starting from scratch each time. This expedites the time it takes to do plan analysis and get answers to my clients
- As a financial planning client you'll receive a written financial plan. This is important as it documents your progress and is a point of reference in between meetings
- Financial planning clients have access to their complete financial position 24/7 through their online portal
- When you, as a financial planning client, want to know what you should do in any given scenario, as long as there are dates and dollars, the financial planning process allows you to compare various scenarios side-by-side. Not only that, your plan will include stress tests against unexpected events like the loss of a job, high inflation, or a health crisis like death or disability
- Planning offers a guide, not a guarantee. It's a tool to support recommendations and in order to work, generally requires you, the client, to take action and implement recommendations
- Clients find it easier to prioritize and implement their actions because they've embraced the financial planning process
4. What is your approach to financial planning?
- My approach to financial planning is part art, part science. What I mean by that is that numbers don’t lie. What we can measure, we can also manage. At the same time, it would be a disservice to plan based solely on numbers
- The advantage to having me as your planner (rather than a robo-advisor) is that I take into consideration qualitative details: emotions, preferences, and differences
- I’ve found that it’s best to plan first, implement second. Too many times, it is done backwards…people start investing without giving consideration to things like getting out of debt or carrying the proper types of insurance
- I would add that going by “rules of thumb” is NOT planning. "Rules of thumb" can lead to a default outcome. This is a passive mechanism toward a goal. Financial planning is proactive and is geared at YOU pursuing YOUR goals based on YOUR dreams and desires. You want a plan that is based on YOUR unique situation and goals
5. What types of clients do you typically work with?
- My clients are Baby Boomers with a 7 figure net worth and
- Gen X’ers earning 6 figures---on their way to a 7 figure net worth
- I especially enjoy working with widows. A widow experiences so much change during a time of grief. I like being able to provide support and advice so that she feels confident in her decisions
- In general my clients seek a step by step plan and want to know if they are on track for their goals
- We work in a collaborative planning relationship which is fun! As in a brainstorming session or master mind group, a single question or statement can lead to new, more robust concepts and strategies
- I work with clients who take action and implement
6. Will you be the only financial planner working with me?
- When you hire me, you hire me as your sole financial planner
- As your planner, I’m like the hub or center of a wheel; getting you to the resources you need and that are outside the scope of my expertise. It’s impossible to be an expert in all matters. Therefore, I have a network of trusted professionals that I can count on to serve the needs of my clients. This includes tax and legal professionals, bankers, mortgage reps, credit counselors, realtors, and planned giving experts
- As a planner should, I’ve planned ahead for unexpected events. The “Kar” in Kar-Mel is Karmen Gearhart. She and I have a formal written agreement for business continuity purposes so that we can serve each other’s clients in the event that one of us is unable to do so
7. How will I pay for your financial planning services?
- Financial planning services are paid either with a check made payable to LPL Financial or from your non-retirement investment account with LPL Financial. I do not accept credit cards, cash or money orders
- Payment is collected at the start of our financial planning engagement
8. How much do you typically charge?
- The cost of your financial plan is based on the complexity of your situation and is at my discretion
- Base plans start at $1,000 for a household with a single source of income. Each additional income source is $500. For example, in a situation where both spouses work, one has a side business and together they have a rental property. The planning fee for them would be $2500
- Annual updates are 50% of the initial plan fee
- I reserve the right to increase my fees due to increased complexity of your planning scenario and as the costs of doing business increase
- Full disclosure is important…I receive a commission on insurance (life, disability, and long term care) and certain investments. Advisory accounts are fee based which means I receive a fee based on the value of the account. These sources of compensation are in addition to planning fees and additional fees or costs may apply
9. Do others stand to gain from the financial advice you give me?
- That's a great question! Based on my moral compass and the ethics I embrace, my recommendations are unbiased
- When you take action on my advice it will likely result in an individual being compensated for doing his or her job; which is to assist you in the implementation of your financial plan
- If I suggest that you refinance your home to save money on interest…the mortgage loan officer will be compensated. If you need a will, trust, or other legal planning, then yes, the lawyer will charge for those services
- I don’t engage in paying for referrals which I receive and I don’t accept compensation for referrals to others
10. Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your career?
- I have not
Melissa Myers, CFP®
Melissa is a Gen X business owner and CFP® professional. She will accept 10 new financial planning clients this year. Secure your free consultation by calling or emailing Melissa at (231) 733-1166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.