Comprehensive Financial Planning
Just as with physical fitness, we believe financial planning is best done on an ongoing basis. Our work together is collaborative. It’s a re-occuring process of understanding, planning, and acting. We know that life happens fast, and we are here to partner with you to help accomplish the things in life that are important to you.
Our specific service offering and areas of emphasis will vary as clients progress through the different life and financial stages. But to give you an idea, here are the sorts of things we may talk about:
- Financial life stages: early career, mid career, pre-retirement, retirement and the various strategies applicable to each
- Investment philosophy, strategy, and implementation
- Tax planning (i.e. how we can structure your finances to be more tax efficient)
- Goals and ambitions
- Cash flow management and putting in a system in place to manage your finances
- Debt repayment
- Employee benefits optimization
- Risk management & estate planning
- Career decisions: changes, salary, strategies, and career management
- Real estate – whether home buying, refinancing, using a HELOC, or investing in rental property.
- Education and college savings strategies
- Estate planning considerations
Below is an overview of what you can expect in working with Trailguide as a financial planning client (there is no one-size-fits-all process, so it may look different for each client).
Initial consultation. This is a no-cost and no-pressure meeting where we simply get to know each other to see if working together could be a good fit for us both.
During our video chat, call, or in-person meeting, you can expect some questions along the lines of…
- What is important to you about money?
- How do you currently manage your finances?
- What are your top financial concerns?
- What is your comfort level in talking about money? With investing?
Follow-up meeting. This is an optional meeting where you can ask any unanswered questions you may still have before making a final decision.
On-boarding Meeting. Once you’ve decided to become a client, we’ll have a meeting to review our technology and start the on-boarding process.
Initial Planning Stage
Initial discovery meetings. This is a longer meeting (or two) where we’ll go in-depth into your values, goals, current financial picture, and so on. The idea is to give us enough information to begin formulating a financial plan.
Brainstorming Meeting. This tends to be a more quantitative meeting where we are reviewing analysis together and collaborating on the construction of your financial plan.
Plan Delivery Meeting. When your plan is ready, we’ll meet to review the plan, make decisions, and discuss ‘action items’. From there we can make changes as needed – it is designed to be a collaborative process. During the initial planning stage we may also work together to develop a custom way for managing your unique financial life.
Follow-up. We typically end our initial planning process with one more meeting to follow-up and review questions, progress so far, etc.
We keep communicating! Life happens – things change, goals change, jobs change, the markets change… you get the idea! We keep on meeting together on a regular basis. We’ll have at least one ‘formal’ meeting each year to review and renew your plan.
Implementation, Accountability, and Reminders. We don’t just hand you a plan and say ‘go – good luck!’. We’ll work with you to implement, adjust, adapt, and maintain your financial plan. Think of it as a living entity that needs to be nourished. We are here to keep you on track!
Investment Management. We work with you to intelligently invest your money in a way that is aligned with your financial plan.
Your All Access Financial Guide. If you have questions about your finances, we are here to help!
Online access. You’ll have access to your accounts, plan, and more!
What you can expect from me:
- We kick things off with what is a generally a three to five meeting process within the first few months of becoming a client.
- Anytime access – when you have questions, you’ll be able to reach out to someone who knows your financial picture and can give insights which align with the plan we’ve created.
- A values-based approach to financial planning which goes far beyond simply plugging a few numbers into a computer and sharing the results.
- A judgement-free environment where it is safe to be yourself and share your financial goals, struggles, and ambitions.
- An annual meeting to reflect and renew your plan.
- Online access to your information.
- Timely communication.
What I expect from you:
Our process relies on collaboration. I expect the following from you:
- Provide the information we need in order to build an effective plan.
- Honesty and openness. We work hard to get to know you and your goals and values, but we need you to be willing to share!
- Reach out when life happens or you’re facing a financial decision! We mean it when we say we are here to guide you through your financial journey – take advantage of that and utilize our services!
How much does it cost?
We take several factors into consideration (financial planning is a personal process and everyone’s situation is different!) – income, net worth, life stage, real estate ownership, business ownership, etc. However, no one likes it when pricing isn’t available on a company’s website! So, here are some general guidelines on what you can expect for pricing:
- $1,000 to $3,000 up front (which covers on-boarding and the initial parts of the planning process).
- An ongoing annual financial planning fee which is typically paid on a monthly basis much like any other ‘subscription’ you have. This may be $150/month or $450/month+ depending on your circumstances. On the lower-end might be a recent grad or young family looking to just get going on savings, repay debt, begin investing, and plan for the future. On the upper-end would be a high-income / high net worth person with more complexity in their financial life.
- An investment management fee for assets managed by Trailguide which generally tiers down as the account size grows (see investment management fee schedule for more information). Clients who have large portfolios under Trailguide’s management may receive financial planning services at no additional cost.
The figures above are general in nature and actual pricing may be above or below what has been shown. Pricing will be clearly laid out for you before we begin working together.
Trailguide offers standalone investment management services. We will work with you to design and implement a portfolio which is suited for your life stage, risk tolerance, and goals. Once the initial allocation is set, we will implement and monitor the strategy and meet with you annually to review.
Our investment philosophy is summarized as follows:
- We believe the markets are generally efficient and capitalism works. The markets have demonstrated that, over time, they are effective for long-term wealth creation.
- Investor behavior is, in the long-run, one of the most substantial determinants of success – just as important (if not more so!) than investment performance. Investing should be led by reason, not emotion. However, left to our own devices, we often invest based on emotional factors which results in a ‘behavior gap’ where there is a tendency to underperform the investments held – humans are highly susceptible to fear of loss, greed, and opportunity FOMO (fear of missing out), all of which increase the likelihood of making poor investment decisions. Thus, a disciplined and reasoned approach will likely lead to greater success in the long-run.
- Rather than take a purely passive approach to investing, we believe there are certain ‘dimensions’ of return which we can target to increase the likelihood of enhanced portfolio returns in the long run.
- We believe humans are innately driven to create, produce, and innovate… to solve problems and become increasingly more efficient. In a single word, we possess ‘ingenuity’ – and the market provides all of us an opportunity to participate in the resulting wealth creation. We believe this allows for a long-term optimism which provides a foundation for weathering market down-turns when they happen.
Trailguide has a minimum household investable assets requirement for this service of $100,000. This minimum may be reduced or waived in certain cases and is waived automatically for financial planning clients. While the the actual fees may vary above or below the following amount, clients can generally expect to pay a fee which amounts to about 1% on the first million dollars under management on a tiered schedule which reduces as the amount under management grows. The actual fee will agreed upon prior to beginning our work together.
- One-time financial plan. This is essentially the same ‘initial planning’ service as described for ‘Comprehensive Financial Planning’, but without the ongoing service, monitoring, and assistance in implementation. This could be appropriate for someone who is not interested in working together in the context of an ongoing financial planning relationship, but still wants a financial plan and to go through our financial planning process. Generally, the cost for this starts at $3,000. The actual price will be agreed upon in advance.
- Project & Hourly Based Work. Sometimes people will have very narrow or focused financial questions or issues they need help with. This could include debt repayment strategies, reviewing the investment selection for a work-based plan, budget analysis, an objective view on a home purchase decision, etc. These ‘topical’ engagements may be billed on a project or hourly basis and the price will be agreed upon in advance.