What do I need to bring to our first meeting?
An open mind and optimism. All kidding aside, those really are the most important pieces. After your complimentary Initial Inquiry Call, we will send you our Financial Fact Finder form to complete before the 30-Minute Complimentary Get Acquainted Meeting/Call takes place. This is a secure online form that asks for a little background information about you, your current financial standing, and the services you’re seeking, which helps us prepare to be of best service when we talk.
Where are you located?
Office hours are by appointment only. We are located in the Loading Dock co-working space northeast of downtown Raleigh.
What is financial planning?
Financial Planning can be integrated and comprehensive, where all elements of your financial affairs, such as retirement planning, investments, insurance and college funding, are brought together into a coordinated, cohesive plan. Or, the plan can target just a single issue of importance or concern to you. In either case, financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important deliverables. First, an in-depth review of your current situation (either holistic or specific, depending on your planning objective) and second, a road map that provides clear direction as to how you can achieve your planning goal(s). It is important to remember that financial planning is a dynamic process, not a single, one-time event. The economy, your planning objectives, a birth or death in the family, or your income are just a few examples of factors to which change would merit a plan review.
Isn't financial planning just for people who have lots of money?
No! Can’t people of lower income theoretically use the help of a financial planner more than their wealthier counterparts? Sankalpa Financial is built on the principle that planning should be accessible to anyone -- that's why we charge for all services at a the same flat hourly rate, instead of as a percentage of assets under management.
It’s meaningful work to get clients on the right path to saving and investing!
What does ‘fiduciary’ mean?
Fiduciary means that a planner/advisor is obligated to act in the best interest of the client when making recommendations. Contrary to what most of us think, this is not how the majority of financial advisors in this country operate (because most are not contractually bound to).As a fee-only, fiduciary financial planner, we do not receive commissions from insurance or investment products, referral fees, or any compensation other than that which comes directly from the client.
For a succinct overview on the difference between the fiduciary standard, which applies to Registered Investment Advisors like Sankalpa Financial, and ‘suitability,’ which applies to Broker-Dealers, click here.
What is "Fee-only" financial planning and why should it be important to me?
Fee-only financial planners are paid only by their clients. They never receive any commissions, sales incentives, bonuses, or special perks paid by insurance companies or other financial service entities for selling their products. Sankalpa Financial is a true fee-only financial planning firm. With this in mind, you can approach us with the full knowledge that we will make recommendations that are in your best interest only.
Is ‘fee-only’ the same as ‘fee-based’?
No. A financial planner/advisor may call him/herself 'fee-based' if they charge fees for planning but also accept compensation from third-parties such as insurance or investment companies for selling their financial products.
How do I implement the recommendations you make for insurance or investments?
We advise on financial products such as investments and insurance when appropriate, but we do not sell them nor receive any benefits from recommending these products. We can recommend ethical and competent insurance agents to assist you in addressing an insurance need, or we can help you secure coverage through the services of a no or low-load internet-based insurance company. We can also assist you in establishing a brokerage account at an unaffiliated discount broker (Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, T.D. Ameritrade, etc.). To keep your cost low, we give recommendations from a client-action standpoint, but you may always employ us further at the same hourly rate to help with actual implementation if you wish. For more information on this service, call or message us for details.
What do you charge?
We offer a complimentary 15-Minute Initial Inquiry Call to all prospective clients, after which you will be asked to fill in our secure Financial Fact Finder form. We take time to review that, and then together we schedule a time to talk for approximately 30 minutes about potential strategy, also free of charge. During this 30-Minute Get-Acquainted Meeting/Call, you will be given a written quote based on the estimated amount of time it will take to address your needs.
When you decide to move forward with the planning engagement, all services thereafter are billed at the same flat rate of $240/hour. Therefore, the total cost of services provided is based on the time that we spend meeting with you (in-person, by phone, or by video, after the two complimentary consultation sessions), researching and analyzing your situation, and formulating our recommendations. At this time, Sankalpa Financial does not directly manage assets, although we do provide investment advice and can guide clients through the process of allocating funds when appropriate. This means that we do not charge a percentage of assets under management; all investment advice will be rendered at the same flat hourly rate as other recommendations.
Following the delivery of your financial plan and/or recommendations, if you have questions or need clarification on anything, please feel free to give us a call. We will not bill for modest amounts of additional time spent during the 30-day period after we present our recommendations to you. We realize that our plan must be understood by you to secure the necessary emotional ownership required for full implementation.
We recognize that, especially with larger projects, planning fees may feel burdensome at times. We encourage clients to view this as an up-front investment in a more secure long-term future, especially when juxtaposed with ongoing fees in traditionally-managed accounts. The planning services offered 'for free' in exchange for a percentage of your earnings into perpetuity end up being far more costly in the long run. That said, it would go against the culture of this firm to stand in the way of our clients being able to afford our services. If an invoice is deemed too substantial for a client to pay in one lump sum without negatively affecting the rest of his/her Personal Financial Plan, arrangements may be made on a case-by-case basis to divide the full amount due into equal payments due over the course of up to several monthly billing cycles. If you feel like you would be more apt to engage with a planner under these circumstances, please contact us for more details.
As a fee-only, fiduciary financial planner, we do not receive commissions from insurance or investment products, referral fees; our only compensation comes directly from the client.
What is your investment philosophy?
The following principles and convictions will inform the investment recommendations that we present to our clients:
The asset allocation decision will be the most significant factor in determining your long-term investment performance. Asset allocation refers to the way you divide your investments between stocks, bonds and cash. We believe that there is a direct correlation between risk and return -- i.e., investors receive a risk premium in the form of higher returns for choosing investments that carry greater risk.
We believe that investing in stocks requires a time horizon of at least five years or longer. Investors who will need access to their funds within five years should not be in the stock market. As we experienced from 2000-2009, stocks are capable of delivering 0% returns for an entire decade.
We do not believe in market timing, which is a strategy that seeks to move in and out of the market (bond or stock) in anticipation of either upward or downward market movements. Few (if any) investment professionals have, over a long period of time, demonstrated their ability to consistently add value beyond a buy and hold strategy. We believe in controlling risk through a prudent asset allocation strategy, not by attempting to time the market.
We believe that there is a role for both active and passive investing strategies. To clarify, active management is an investment approach where fund managers choose securities based on research, judgment and financial analysis. Passive management is a buy-and-hold strategy that seeks to provide broad market exposure and typically tries to replicate the returns of a designated index (like the S&P 500). Passive investors make no attempt to exclude or include a stock in their portfolio based on criteria used by active managers. For many investors, we recommend a Core + Satellite investing model. Conventional wisdom holds that the purpose of core portfolio holdings has been to harness the long-term appreciation potential of traditional assets such as large- company stocks and high-quality bonds. The goal of asset allocation has been to strike a balance between these two low correlation asset classes that optimizes their risk-adjusted returns. However, following the economic crisis of 2008-early 2009, we believe that there are three key factors that need to be considered in constructing the core portion of investors’ portfolios. These factors are: historically high volatility, historically low interest rates, and renewed awareness of the potential for historical correlations to break down. In this environment, traditional holdings may be too volatile for many investors, especially those nearing or in retirement. We believe that post-crisis core portfolios may benefit from some revisions to traditional asset allocation, and believe that hedged equity, global fixed income and risk-managed alternative investments may be more appropriate for many investors. We believe that fees and expenses have a very negative impact on our client's wealth over a long period of time. For example, if two investors with $100,000 are able to earn an average of 9% per year over a 20-year time period, but one investor chooses higher cost investments that assess an extra 1% per year in fees, the investor with the higher costs will have $94,345 LESS at the end of the 20-year period. Expenses and fees must be carefully managed.
We believe in Sustainable Investing. Sustainable Investing is the full integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision making. By combining rigorous financial analysis with equally rigorous ESG analysis, we believe that it is possible to identify better-managed companies that:
- Are leaders in their industries
- Are more forward-thinking
- Are better at managing risk
- Meet positive standards of corporate responsibility
- Focus on the long-term
We believe that companies with superior sustainability performance are also better long-term investments. By investing in these companies, we intend for our clients to benefit from their vision and success.
Do you offer your services to businesses that would like to provide objective investment advice to their employees?
Any organization (profit or non-profit) wanting to provide unbiased, conflict-of-interest-free advice and financial education to their employees can benefit from our services. We can provide financial advice and coaching to rank-and-file employees and/or senior executives. Your employees will appreciate the fact that you have engaged an independent, fee-only, fiduciary financial planning firm, thus eliminating the possibility of sales pressure related to product sales or bundled services. Contact us for details.