Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is financial planning?
Done right, financial planning is a process that helps you figure out where you are financially today and where you want to be in the future, and then helps you determine the best way to get there. The financial planning process involves an initial in-depth review of your current financial situation and then the creation of a plan on how to achieve your future goals and objectives. At Conklin Financial Planning, the financial planning process consists of seven distinct steps (see How We Work). The important thing to remember is that financial planning is a process….not an event.
2. How can a financial advisor help me?
Any one, any age, looking for help in reaching their financial goals and financial peace of mind can benefit from working with a good financial advisor on a regular or as-needed basis. Each individual’s situation is unique. Someone just starting out may need a long-term plan of action, while someone else already on the road to achieving their goals may just need help with an important decision, a review of their situation, or a second opinion on other advice they have received. That’s why we custom tailor our services to meet each client’s individual needs.
3. Who can benefit most from your services?
Any individual or family seeking financial peace of mine can benefit from our services. We serve people at all income levels and from all walks of life. Clients have the flexibility to work with us on either a one-time, as-needed basis or on an ongoing basis. We welcome clients who simply need a one-time financial consultation or second opinion, as well as those who need comprehensive financial planning. In addition, any corporation or organization seeking quality, unbiased financial education for their employees or members can benefit from our financial education programs.
4. Don’t I need significant assets to get a good advisor?
No, we have no minimum requirements for hourly engagements.
5. Do you provide only comprehensive financial planning?
No. Although a comprehensive financial plan may yield the greatest benefits, we can focus our services on specific needs like cash management, investment analysis, retirement planning or college funding – whatever is critical to you right now.
6. My spouse and I need help and guidance getting started to build our financial future. Will you take us as clients?
Yes, we will be happy to. While some firms have income levels and/or net worth minimums, Conklin Financial Planning realizes that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels and all walks of life. Remember, “You don’t have to have a fortune to start building one.”
7. I have already accumulated substantial assets and think I am doing quite well financially. But as I progress and build for the future, things seem to be getting more complicated. I want to be sure I am on track, but I don’t always have the time or inclination to manage the myriad details myself. Can you help me?
Yes. People who need more sophisticated planning or advice will find our services appealing and beneficial.
8. What if I want or need to buy investment or insurance products? How do I do that?
While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations regarding the purchase of financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy or a new mortgage, invest in a portfolio of mutual funds, or find an estate planning attorney or accountant, we can direct you to the resources you need and/or help you obtain these products and services.
9. I’m in charge of the retirement plans and employee benefits at my company and would like to get more employees to participate. How can you help us?
Corporate education is vital in building employee participation. We can help your people understand the benefits of your programs. Please call to discuss your specific needs. We can custom-build an educational program for your company. We can also provide services for executives and staff if desired.
10. Can you help me with different kinds of securities?
Almost always. We provide advice on many types of securities, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, bank deposits, variable and fixed annuities. We also provide advice on mortgages, budgeting, and cash flow issues, 401(k), 403(b), 457 and other retirement programs, life and disability insurance needs and more. If it has to do with money and finances, we can provide counseling, guidance and resources. Clients are encouraged to call us when they have a major life event, such as a new job, a baby, a marriage or divorce, or if they are planning to buy a new home or start their own business. We also encourage our clients to call us with more common everyday questions, such as: “How should I invest within my 401(k) or 403(b) plan?”; “How can I reduce my taxes?”; “What advice can you offer on refinancing my home?” or “How can I maximize my Flex Spending Account, Cafeteria Plan or Section 125 Plan at work?”
11. What is your investment philosophy?
As financial planners and investment consultants, we believe in following fundamental principals with regard to designing an investment portfolio and making specific recommendations:
• The purpose of a client’s investment portfolio is to fund current and/or future financial objectives.
• The design of the portfolio must take into account the client’s financial objectives, tolerance for risk, needs for current income or liquidity, and special considerations such as income and estate taxes.
•The appropriate allocation of investment assets for your goals and risk tolerance is the most important component in developing an investment portfolio. We believe that having a diversified, well-balanced portfolio, following long-term buy-and-hold strategies, and having patience will increase the likelihood that you will achieve your long-term financial objectives.
The important thing to remember is that no one can predict the future. It is difference of opinion that makes a market. Investment and economic “experts” provided with the same information often come to different conclusions. We do not suggest that we can, or that any of the money or mutual fund managers that we recommend will make the correct decision every time. We do believe, however, that studying the historic trends and relationships of investment classes and the philosophies and approaches of successful investment managers can provide valuable insight.
12. How do select investments for clients?
First, we review your goals, tolerance for risk, and time horizon. We consider current economic conditions, the outlook for a particular asset class or type of security and how the investment fits within a client’s portfolio given a client’s objectives and tolerance for risk. We then determine an overall asset allocation. As fiduciaries for our clients, we strive to obtain the most appropriate investment vehicles to meet your objectives, while being very conscious of total expenses and risk exposure. An allocation of no-load and/or low-load mutual funds meets the needs of most of our clients. If some of your investments have restricted investment choices, such as in an employer plan, we help you select investments within those plans.
13. I understand the benefits of working with an Hourly, Fee-Only financial planner, but I might need to obtain financial products. How will I be able to do that?
While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations and opinions regarding the purchase of the various financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy or a new mortgage, invest into a portfolio of mutual funds, or find an estate planning attorney or tax professional, we can direct you to the resources you need and/or help you obtain these products and services. If appropriate, we can also help you implement your plan and set up your accounts.
14. If I use Conklin Financial Planning to develop a financial plan, am I obligated to purchase the recommended products?
Absolutely not! We offer recommendations to meet your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to purchase anything. We also recognize the importance of shopping around for the best available product or service. If you need life or disability insurance, for example, we will suggest the type of policy, options, and amount that best fits you situation, then refer you to several providers with quality products at competitive prices.
15. How do you charge for your financial planning services?
Fees are based on the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations and implementation assistance (if appropriate). When we meet with you, we will give you a range of fees to expect for the services you want and need right now.
16. Once my financial plan or project is finished, will our relationship end?
Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we offer ongoing services, periodic reviews and day-to-day consultation as requested and/or needed. Contact us when you have a change that impacts your goals, and contact us annually for a checkup to keep your plan on track.
17. How do I get started?
The first step is an initial inquiry from you. Schedule your appointment now. We offer an initial no-cost, no-obligation Get Acquainted meeting, either on the phone or in your home or office. Contact us to schedule a time that is convenient for you. We can discuss which of our services may be appropriate for you during this meeting.