Frequently Asked Questions: And our responses

1. How does the financial planning process work?

Financial planning is a multi-step process; you will receive two important things –

  1. An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and
  2. a blueprint that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future.

Once created and implemented we revisit your plan if your circumstances change, as-needed, or on a regular basis.

2. How do you create the personalized "blueprint"?

we focus on your goals, objectives, priorities and values. For instance: the reduction of current and future income taxes may be an immediate goal, funding a quality education for your children and/or grandchildren may be an intermediate goal, and enjoying a secure financial future in your retirement years is likely to be one of your most important long-term goals. Another goal in life for some people is creating wealth and/or leaving a legacy for your chosen beneficiaries or charities. You may already be on the road to meeting these objectives and simply need a new strategy, professional insight, or to fine-tune your plan. You may just be starting out, or you may be somewhere in between. Whatever your unique situation may be, everyone needs a periodic assessment of where they are on the road to meeting their financial goals. That's why we do an in-depth review of your current financial situation.

you need to know how to achieve (or continue working toward) your financial goals. By focusing on cash flow, investments, taxes, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues, savings opportunities and other general financial matters, we design a customized financial plan for you.

to achieve the intended results, the plan is implemented and monitored.

3. Sounds like a lot of work...?

When you enlist our help, you can choose how much you want to do, and how much you want handled for you. You are busy, so we try to make your part in the process as easy as possible. In addition to receiving professional advice on your most important financial concerns, we can also provide implementation services.

4. Who can benefit most from your services?

Any individual seeking financial peace of mind can benefit from our services.

We serve people:

  • at all income levels, from all walks of life
  • with flexibility, working on a one-time, as-needed or ongoing basis
  • For a one-time financial consultation or a second opinion
  • those needing comprehensive financial planning and/or recurring portfolio rebalancing meetings
  • corporations or organizations seeking quality, impartial financial education for their employees or members
5. Who would not be a good fit for your services?

We have an honesty policy, and want you to get what you are looking for, even if it's not here. People with whom we may not be a great fit include:

  • individual seeking technical or day trading advice
  • anyone that is focused on the next hot stock tip
6. Can you help in the beginning stages of building a financial future?

Yes! Some firms have income levels and/or net worth minimums but at Clark Hourly Financial Planning, LLC we realize that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels, and all walks of life.

7. Can you help in an established, more complicated process of building for the future?

Yes. People who need more sophisticated financial planning or advice will find our services appealing and beneficial. As you get closer to your goals, it is more important than ever to assess your preparedness and fine tune a comprehensive plan to make sure you are taking the right steps to reach your goals. If you are looking for a professional review or a second opinion to ensure you are on track, we can provide that, too.

8. Can you help our company strategize our retirement plans and employee benefits?

Absolutely. Corporate education is key in building employee participation. We can help your people understand the benefits of your programs. An educational program for your company can be custom-built. Please call to discuss your specific needs.

9. What is "Fee-Only" financial planning and why should that be important to me?

As Fee-Only financial planners:

  • conflicts of interest regarding compensation are removed
  • We do not accept sales commissions
  • we work solely for our clients
  • we do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, and so
  • there are no third-party relationships or outside influences to color our thinking and financial recommendations

In addition, our firm is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA); as such, we must comply with a host of regulations designed to protect the consumer. One important question you should ask when considering a financial planner's services: "May I please have a copy of your ADV Part II?" This document contains important information about the planner's qualifications, fiduciary duties, history of any past violations, etc. We have made a copy of our ADV Part II available on this website under the tab "Services".

10. How will I be able to obtain 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 in a portfolio of mutual funds, 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.

11. What types of securities do you provide advice for?

We provide advice for all types of securities, including:
mutual funds, ETFs, stocks (as they relate to your portfolio holdings)
bonds, bank deposits, and variable and fixed annuities.

We also provide advice on:
mortgages, budgeting and cash flow issues,
401(k), 403(b) and other retirement programs,
stock options, life and disability insurance, etc.

If it relates to money and finances, we provide counseling, guidance and/or resources for you.

Clients are encouraged to call us when they have a major life event, such as:

  • a new job,
  • a baby,
  • a marriage,
  • a divorce,
  • or 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?",
  • "What is the best way for me to save for college?",
  • "How can I maximize my Flex Spending Account, Cafeteria Plan or benefits at work?",
  • "If something happens to me, will my family be ok?"
12. I already have brokerage accounts, do I have to move them to work with you?

No. One of the benefits of working with an independent firm such as ours is that we will give you specific recommendations for changes that you should make to your investments, and those changes can be implemented in your existing accounts.

13. Am I obligated to purchase products you recommend?

No. We will offer recommendations which we believe meets your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to purchase them. In today's competitive market, it makes sense to shop around for the best available product or service.

For instance, if you need to obtain a life insurance or disability policy, we will suggest the kind of policy, which riders, and what amounts may be best for you. We will then direct you to a choice of companies that can provide a quality product at competitive prices for you. If you wish, we can help you purchase investments and/or set up your accounts with a third-party custodian such as a discount broker.

14. Does Clark Hourly Financial Planning, LLC provide only comprehensive financial planning?

No. Although a comprehensive financial plan can provide the greatest benefits, we can limit our advisory services to your specific needs, such as retirement planning, investment analysis, cash management and budgeting, or college education funding.

15. Tell me about your investment philosophy.

As financial planners and investment consultants, we believe in the following fundamental principles:

The Purpose
of a client's investment portfolio is funding current and/or future financial objectives.

The Design
of the portfolio takes into account the client's financial objectives, tolerance for risk,
needs for current income or liquidity, special considerations such as income and estate taxes, and the amount of time and attention the client wants to invest in maintaining the portfolio.

The important thing to remember is that no one can predict the future.

The market is created through difference of opinion. 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 believe, however, that studying the historic trends and relationships of investment classes and the philosophies and approaches of successful investment managers provides valuable insight. 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 one will achieve their long-term financial objectives.

16. How do you select investments for a client?

Before we recommend any investment, we consider:

  • the current economic conditions
  • the outlook for that asset class or type of security and
  • how this investment fits within your portfolio given
  • your objectives and tolerance for risk.

For equity investments, we focus primarily on

  • the philosophies,
  • experience and
  • track record of the management team.

We also believe that the use of passive, index, type of equity investments will improve diversification within a portfolio. With fixed income investments, we look for the best yield available for a given quality of security. 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.

17. How do you price your financial planning services?

The 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). See our Fees page for hourly rates and fee ranges. We do not accept any third-party fees or commissions. All compensation comes directly, and only, from the client so that you know that our loyalty is undivided.

18. How much will my financial plan cost?

Financial planning fees are determined on a project basis; the total fee for a financial plan will vary from client to client based on the specific needs and complexity of your situation. The first step is for us to speak on the phone to set an appointment for a FREE 45 minute Get Acquainted meeting. An estimate is provided after the Get Acquainted Meeting, when your personal needs are fully identified. For examples of range of cost for various planning scenarios, please see the "Fees" page.

19. Are your fees tax deductible?

Yes. And, what kind of financial planners would we be if we didn't tell you how? Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A. It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return.

20. Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end?

Depending on your needs and the type of planning topics we addressed, the actual engagement of services may end. Then, when you have a change in your situation, such as a new job, a baby, a marriage or divorce, or a new financial goal please contact us again. We hope to become your trusted resource for all of your financial questions. However, for those clients that own investments, a regular financial check-up is very important. As markets move and investment quality changes, adjustments need to be made. For most investors with whom we work, a semi-annual or annual quality assessment and portfolio rebalancing meeting is sufficient.

21. How can I get started?

You're almost there! The first step is an inquiry from you. We offer an initial no-cost, no-obligation Get Acquainted Meeting, either on the phone or in our office. For Get Acquainted Meetings, appointments are scheduled based on availability during regular business hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday. After the Get Acquainted Meeting, you will be provided with a written, signed estimate of the cost of the plan. Should you decide to engage our services, all it takes to get started is a signed Client Agreement and payment of the lesser of either $500 or half of the estimate. Most clients find the financial planning process to be enlightening. The end result, of course, is greater peace of mind.

If you have any other questions, please call or e-mail us.
636.264.0732 |