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Frequently Asked Questions


Hiring a financial planner is a lot like hiring a coach. Successful people do this all the time. In fact, the more successful someone is, the more likely it is that they are working with a professional coach of some kind. Similar to a coach, your financial advisor isn’t going to make a decision on your behalf without your approval but it is hard for them to be helpful if you don’t take their advice.

As a Raymond James Financial Advisor, Debbie Craig, holds both a Series 65 and a Series 7 license. This means she is a Registered Representative of a broker-dealer and a representative/agent. These licenses allow her to be paid by either commissions or on a fee basis at the discretion of the client. Some clients that do not want to deal with the fee each quarter and seldom trade prefer to pay via commissions. Other clients that enjoy trading more often would rather pay a quarterly fee. The quarterly fee covers all buys and sells instead of paying a commission for each transaction.

Clients should periodically re-evaluate whether the use of an asset-based fee continues to be appropriate in servicing their needs. A list of additional considerations, as well as the fee schedule, is available in the firm’s Form ADV Part II as well as the client agreement.

Yes, the advisors at Craig Wealth Advisors consider all factors that impact your actual return on investment (ROI), including expenses and taxes. Planning ahead to create minimal expense and tax will allow your investments to provide maximum possible benefit to you. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

The term “discretionary” refers to the freedom to make decisions. When used in reference to investment portfolios, discretionary portfolio management allows the financial advisor to perform a buy or sell without contacting the client to obtain permission for every transaction. This is why the advisor invests ample time in the discovery process and planning process, so they can create an overall strategy that is in alignment with the goals of the client. In a non-discretionary agreement, the advisor would have to obtain permission from the client prior to each transaction.

If you are considering hiring a financial advisor or already have one, you may be wondering how you can get the most benefit from the professional services they offer. Here are a few tips:

Tell All
Be open and honest about your current financial situation. This includes talking about all of your financial assets, even if your advisor will not be managing them all. A financial planner cannot provide a customized strategy if they only know part of the story. This also means providing honest feedback to your advisors recommendations. If you need more information, say so, and if you simply don’t feel comfortable with their suggestions, share that as well. The more you share the better your advisor can help you!

Put in Your Time from the Start
Being open and honest about your financial circumstances, your risk tolerance and goals will go a long way to help your financial planner create a strategy that suits you, but this also takes time. Enter the process understanding that you and your financial planner will have to invest time up front in order to communicate and create a financial strategy that suits you.

Stay on Course
One of the reasons that financial planners are beneficial is that their training, experience and professionalism allows them to continue to pursue a financial strategy at times when DIY investors may have an emotional response to market changes. Of course, it’s also important to respond appropriately to significant changes and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities, but what we want to avoid is the “behavior gap.” This is a term coined to explain the difference between the gains that’s the S&P 500 experience compared to the smaller growth that the average investor experiences. The behavior gap is created by the emotional response that the average investor has to market changes causing him/her to abandon logic and act on feelings.

Keep in Touch
It can be easier to dedicate time and energy to a new “project” that needs it, and then become distracted by other things once it’s off the ground. Once you have established a relationship with a financial planner and created a strategy with them that suits you, it is important to remember that you will still need to occasionally return a phone call or attend a periodic meeting.

Be Open-Minded
Never follow financial advice blindly, but is a good idea to keep an open mind. Your financial planner’s professional opinion is what you hired them for. If you find yourself distrusting everything your advisor recommends then it’s time to find a different professional to work with.

Don’t make the mistake that some people do of randomly selecting a financial advisor because they are your brother-in-law, a good golf partner or they graduated from the same high school as you. You have worked hard to earn the investments and now you have reached the next important step, selecting a trusted financial advisor to help you manage your money. Take the following steps to help select the best financial advisor for you.

Create a list of a few advisors you think might be qualified for the job. You can find them online or get referrals from friends. Then visit their websites and see what you can learn about them. Many financial planners will include details about their experience, credentials, strategies, and staff on their websites. This information should help you become somewhat familiar with them before you even meet.

You should also check with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to ensure that you are aware of any disciplinary actions that may have been made against a broker or financial advisor you are considering. You can call the FINRA at (800) 289-9999 or visit this web page by the SEC for additional help http://www.sec.gov/investor/brokers.htm

Before you meet with an advisor they may ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your current finances and goals so they can learn a little about you and to see if the two of you are a good fit. Take the time to fill out the questionnaires and do the exercises. Even if you ultimately end up working with a different advisor, completing the exercise of filling out the information and perhaps discussing the questions with your spouse will be beneficial.

When you meet with a financial planner make sure you bring any remaining questions that you may have about them with you. Good information to gather (either from their website or when you meet in person) is:

  • How long have they worked as a financial advisor?
  • How do they get paid? Advisors have two basic fee structures; commission and fee based.
  • What credentials and education do they have? Ex: Degree in finance, MBA and Certified Financial Planner™ Certification
  • What is their planning strategy? The financial advisor should be able to explain this clearly.
  • What steps are included in their new client process? An organized planning firm will have a systematic step-by-step process to follow for new clients. By the second meeting you should be required to bring your financial statements.
  • Who works with them? How do these individuals offer support? A great support team means your advisor has the necessary time to pay attention to your investments.
  • If you become a client, how often will the advisor meet with you to review your investments? You will want to find a planner that will meet with you annually to review your financial plan.
  • How does the planner feel that they are different from the competition? Their answer to this question will help you determine if this advisor is a good fit for you.

Again, established financial advisors often will have a website that answers most or all of these questions, allowing you to spend your face time getting clarification and answering a few questions that may not have already been addressed. Seek out an advisor that shares both the benefits and risks involved in particular investments, and is someone that you feel comfortable with. If you take the time to follow these steps, you will have a much better chance of finding a financial planner that can become a part of your team of trusted advisors for years to come.