Frequently Asked Questions
+ Q: I already have an investment broker. Why should I hire you?
Investments are only one part of the financial puzzle. As your financial planner, we’ll look at your investments in the context of your entire financial plan. We’ll show you how your investments relate to your other income, your spending, your taxes, and where you’re at in life. We also don’t sell any investment products, so you’ll get completely neutral and objective advice.
+ Q: I have seen websites that provide retirement and investment planning for free. Why should I pay for your services?
You get what you pay for! There are many financial planning websites that provide a simplified look at your finances. What we do is very different. We develop a holistic, comprehensive, and detailed financial plan that takes into account every single aspect of your current and desired financial life - from income and spending to investments, insurance, taxes, and estate plans. Of course, it would be easier to offer a generalized model, but sweeping assumptions simply do not work with real world finances.
+ Q: Are you qualified?
I have been (successfully) involved in financial planning for more than thirty years. That provides experience that you can’t just teach. I have grown businesses and sold them for more than $200 million, and I have overseen complex investment portfolios and estates for several decades. I have also been the “go-to” financial planning guy for colleagues, community members, friends, and clients, meaning I’ve navigated dozens of people through all stages of financial life. I am also in the process of completing the requirements for certification by the Financial Planning Standards Council.
+ Q: I make a good amount of money and I’m not a big spender. I don’t really like to track things like finances and I’m doing fine so far. Why do I need you?
You will probably be amazed at how things change once you stop working and earning those big bucks (and that time will come). With increased life expectancy, the average person can now expect to live in retirement for as long, or longer, than they work. If you don’t have a lifelong financial plan, it is almost impossible to know how much you need to save in order to fund your retirement. If you wait until you get there, it might be too late.
+ Q: I’m already 60 years old and my finances are a mess. Can you help me?
“Already 60” means you likely have 30 or more years to live. Now is as good a time as any to get a handle on your finances and develop a plan for the coming three decades. At your age, a plan will be essential since you are likely near or at retirement. And without a steady income going forward, we can sit down and figure out what your financial future holds.
+ Q: Do I need a financial planner if I’m only 20 or 30 years old?
Every study shows that it's not how much you "put away" that's important, but when you start (the earlier the better). We will work with you to develop a plan to build your wealth, and we’ll help you navigate the world of education plans, life insurance, mortgages, and paying down your debt. An older or retired person may have more wealth, but the financial life of a Millennial is actually more complex.
+ Q: Isn’t this kind of financial planning stuff only for rich people?
Wealthy or not, having a plan matters. Nobody wants to run out of money during their lifetime, so having a handle on your income, expenses, and savings will give you confidence at every life stage.
+ Q: I have no idea how much I spend. Does that matter?
Yes! Your spending is the single most important factor in your financial plan, but we know that many people don’t track their expenses. During our first year, we’ll figure out how much you spend in every category. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and we can do most of it on our own.
+ Q: Are you going to cut my spending and put me on a strict budget?
Hopefully not. What we will do is show you exactly what will happen in five, ten, twenty, or more years based on your income and your spending. If your current level of spending is going to leave you broke, we will definitely point that out. We hope that you will change your spending habits if this is the case. But at least with a plan, there shouldn't be any surprises.
+ Q: I’m not financially savvy and numbers make no sense to me. How am I going to understand what you’re telling me?
We definitely get into depth, and we build a sophisticated financial model for you. However, this is accompanied by a plain language report that explains your financial plan in layman’s terms. We are also here to guide you through every aspect of the report and plan, and we are available at any time to answer any questions you have.
+ Q: Will you help me choose my specific investments if I want that?
I'm asked that a lot, and the short answer is “no”. I’m not licensed as an investment broker, and even if I was, I view your overall asset allocation to be more important than your actual selection of investments. (See our Good Reads section for more on this.) That being said, I do publish on this website my personal investment philosophy (Investing 101) that has worked very well for me for more than thirty years. I even outline my specific investments and my rationale.
+ Q: Will you do my taxes?
No, we won't actually do your tax returns. However, we will provide important "big picture" tax advice and planning. For example, one of the key questions we are asked by retirees is whether they should take their money out of their RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered accounts first. This can have enormous tax consequences, and we will work on the best solution for your particular situation.