Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. Can't find what you're looking for? Please call us directly to learn more.

How can financial planning benefit me?

The process of financial planning gives you a clear picture of where you stand financially. Many families have no idea how much money they have in their estate, how they spend their money or what they want their money to do for them. Financial planning provides direction and discipline. Without direction and discipline, people typically make impulsive, random decisions: They buy this insurance, invest in that hot asset, and adopt the latest tax strategy. The pieces not only don’t fit together, they might actually conflict with each other and compound the problem. Financial planning considers the big picture, aligning your assets and strategies with your goals and objectives. It helps you achieve your lifetime goals by motivating you to action and keeping you on course.

Who needs a wealth manager?

Everybody can benefit from talking with a wealth manager, no matter their age or level of affluence. Here’s why: wealth management isn’t about “getting wealthy” – it’s about helping you achieve your life’s goals. Anyone who wants to take control of their financial life, make good financial decisions, and achieve financial independence can benefit.

Our financial lives used to be much simpler. People worked for the same company most of their lives, lived a few years in retirement on Social Security and their pension, and passed their modest estate on to their children. However, increased longevity, changing demographics, and a more complex, dynamic financial world have changed all that. Financial planning is no longer a luxury reserved for the wealthy or the maturing adult; it is a necessity for most Americans.

Why do I need a financial planner or an investment advisor?

Consider these tough financial facts:

  • Many retirees will live 25 or more years in retirement, requiring far more money long-term to maintain a desired lifestyle.
  • Social Security and company pensions no longer provide the majority of retirement funds for many people.
  • Healthcare costs and education expenses are rising significantly faster than the general inflation rate.
  • Tax laws change annually.
  • Downsizing companies no longer provide “cradle-to-grave” benefits or job security. The average American changes jobs seven or more times in a lifetime, millions of Americans are self-employed, and millions more are unemployed. This demands new approaches toward savings, retirement, taxes, and estate planning.
  • With couples having children later in life, many are “sandwiched” between paying for college and helping their elderly parents, while trying to save for their own retirement.

We all have personal and financial goals. Our ability to achieve those goals is closely tied to our ability to plan for the future. Similar to hiring an architect to draft a blueprint before building a house, our professionals are specialists in drafting comprehensive plans that represent your financial foundation, outlining important steps for you to take to reach your final personal and financial destination, however you define it. We add value to the blueprint by also providing you with prudent investment strategies that will instill confidence in your portfolio, and monitoring your performance throughout the year.

How do I select the right planner for me?

Choosing the right planner is a critical first step. You’ll want to work with someone who is highly credentialed, independent, and hands-on. We recommend that you talk to several financial planners and choose the one with whom you feel the most confidence and comfort. Ask for a recommendation from friends or other professional service professionals you trust, such as your banker, attorney, or accountant. During the interview process, inquire if the planner is a registered investment advisor, and ask for federal Form ADV Part II. This should disclose the planner’s work experience, education, credentials, licenses, philosophy of business, types of services provided, manner of compensation and potential conflicts of interest. Look for work experience in related financial services to be sure the advisor has the knowledge and background you require. Also look for professional affiliations with financial planning organizations, such as the Financial Planning Association (FPA), which indicate a strong commitment to provide competent and ethical advice.

What can I expect when I work with an Access Wealth Planning advisor?

Your advisor’s job is to understand your financial obligations and short- and long-term goals, and then map out a plan to help you get there. Our approach is simple, yet comprehensive and structured. We help you prioritize your goals, gather and review all of your financial data, and assess your investments, retirement needs, taxes, and estate plan. With your goals and current resources in mind, we then design a personalized financial plan tailored to you.

Once you’ve decided which recommendations to follow, your Access Wealth Planning advisor helps implement those decisions. This might include building an emergency fund, establishing a spending and savings plan, beginning an investment program or readjusting current investments, purchasing disability or long-term-care insurance, drafting a will, establishing a trust, or developing a business succession plan. Finally, because life is fluid, your advisor will monitor your plan and portfolio, and meet with you as needed to keep your plan on course.

What is a fiduciary?

A financial advisor who is held to a fiduciary standard occupies a position of special trust and confidence when working with a client. As a fiduciary, Access Wealth Planning is required to act with undivided loyalty to its clients. This includes disclosure of how Access Wealth Planning is compensated and any corresponding conflicts of interest. In the eyes of Access Wealth Planning, it is not the higher standard, it is the only standard.

*Investors should understand that working with an advisor that is a fiduciary does not guarantee that they will experience greater investment performance or reduced losses as compared to working with an advisor that is not acting as a fiduciary.

What do all those designations mean?

  • Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®):Awarded to those with a bachelor's degree, a minimum of three years working in the financial arena, passing a rigorous exam administered by the CFP® Board of Standards, and successfully completing the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities requirement. Yearly continuing education courses are required to maintain certification.
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS®): Awarded only to CPAs who are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA®), binding them to the Code of Professional Conduct, have a minimum of 3,000 hours of financial planning business experience in addition to continuing education within the last five years, and pass a comprehensive and rigorous personal financial planning exam. It represents the highest professional standard of any financial planning credential and sets the PFS® holder apart from other financial planners.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA®): Awarded to those with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, working experience in the accounting arena, and passed the rigorous Uniform CPA® Examination. To maintain accreditation, yearly continuing education courses are required, including a course in Ethics.
  • Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS): Awarded by the College for Financial Planning to those who successfully complete a comprehensive program, pass a final examination and comply with the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities. Every two years, individuals must renew their designation by completing 16 hours of continuing education.

*Investors should understand that working with an advisor that holds professional designations, does not guarantee that they will experience greater investment performance or reduced losses as compared to working with an advisor that does not hold professional designations.

Is hiring an advisor a one-time investment?

Financial planning is not about purchasing a product – it’s a lifetime process and a valuable investment in your future. Once a plan is in place, it should be periodically reviewed and updated to meet changing life circumstances - children are born, people die, jobs are gained or lost, people marry or divorce, inheritances are received. Investment performance must be reviewed in light of the economy as a whole, the performance of your portfolio, and your changing needs and wants. Even new tax laws might necessitate revamping part of your estate plan or income-tax strategies. Access Wealth Planning clients receive the greatest benefit when they keep the lines of communication open, allowing for us to stay apprised of their situations and plan accordingly.

If I only want Access Wealth Planning to manage my investments, is this an option?

Of course. The advisors at Access Wealth Planning are able to provide you with whatever level of service you require. It is recommended, however, that you talk with your advisor in depth about your goals, objectives, and risk tolerance so that the right recommendations can be made.

What happens after the initial financial plan is delivered?

The delivery of the financial plan is just the beginning. It is our policy to guide you every step of the way as we work with you to implement your personalized comprehensive plan. Through ongoing communications and meetings, we are available to answer any and all questions that may arise during the course of the year.

Will you work with my existing advisors (e.g. my accountant, broker and attorney)?

Absolutely. Our intent is to provide you with guidance and advice that will help you reach your personal and financial goals. Working with your team of trusted advisors allows us to do this, as they may already have certain strategies in place that we can complement. We excel at quarterbacking these types of relationships so you benefit greatly from everyone’s expertise. Plus, if you don't have an appropriate advisory team, we are happy to recommend someone from our vast network.

How often do I need to talk to or meet with my Wealth Manager?

While every situation is different, we talk with each of our clients at least annually, and for those with complex needs or a more active investing style, often quarterly or monthly. The bottom line is we are available to you as often as you need us, but you can feel confident that we will check in with you during the year to review your plan and your portfolio.