You may have a few questions as to how we operate, what types of clients we tend to work with, how we are compensated, and our investment philosphy. We have attempted to answer the questions we receive most frequently below, but if there is something you still are unsure of, please give us a call at 301-258-1300.
To reveal the answer of each question below, please hover and click to expand.
The process usually begins with a phone call. We have a brief discussion about your goals and concerns and what your expectations are from working with a financial advisor. If there seems to be a match between your goals and concerns and the services that we provide, then we set up an initial consultation.
We do not charge for the initial consultation. Usually we spend about an hour together, using that time to get to know each other. We like to learn more in depth about your goals and concerns and what you expect from working with a financial advisor. In turn, we like our prospective clients to learn about us, and our financial planning and investment advisory process. We view the initial consultation as the potential start of a long term relationship, and like to give prospective clients enough information to determine if they would like to continue to pursue a potential relationship with us.
Typically, prospective client focus on the issues that are causing them the most pain at any given time. These issues can be retirement concerns, investment concerns, estate planning concerns or other issues. Often times client bring the appropriate supporting documents—investment statements, retirement options, current estate planning documents. It is important to note that we do not require prospective client to bring anything to the initial consultation except for a willingness to share their goals and concerns and learn about us.
We have prepared a Data Collection Form and Document Checklist to help you get started. The information requested in these documents allow us to perform our due diligence and prepare the most accurate financial plan and investment strategy for you.
Ivy League Financial Advisors works primarily with clients in the DC Metropolitan area; however, we currently have clients in numerous states across the country, as well as in several countries around the world.
Our typical clients fall into three categories:
Retirees and Pre-Retirees. By far the over-riding concern of these clients can best be addressed by this question, “Can we live the lifestyle we want to live in retirement without worrying about running of our money?” Estate planning concerns and long-term care concerns also tend to rank among the higher priorities of these clients.
Two-income professionals with children. These are attorneys, physicians, and corporate executives with extreme demands on their time. They know they have a myriad of financial planning and investment issues which need to be addressed, but simply don’t have time to address them all.
Small business owners. These are entrepreneurs who are trying to run and grow a business and need someone to help them assemble a team of professionals to address the numerous financial concerns they have.
We tend to work best with people who have $500,000 or more which needs to be managed. However, the typical new client we are bring on has $1-5 million in assets which need managing.
Unfortunately, the answer is no. We have found that we do not work well with “do-it-yourselfers” because 1) we never know if they will implement our suggestions, 2) they don’t have access to the same products and services we have and 3) we find it difficult to design a portfolio based on their limited investment options.
This is a detailed conversation we would have to have with you. There is a very close link between the financial plan we develop and the investment strategies we implement to support a client’s financial plan. It has been our experience that brokers do very little financial planning and almost never develop strategic investment strategies for their clients, and therefore, it is very difficult for us to work with them in a coordinated fashion.
As Fee-Only Financial Advisors, we are compensated 100% by our clients. Since the company was founded in 1999, we have never accepted one dollar from the sales of investment products or even from referral fees. Our compensation structure is explained extensively in our disclosure documents. Please click on this link to view them.
Typically the answer is that we do not charge separately for a financial plan (although we reserve the right to do so). We view the financial plan as a necessary part of the due diligence to make sure that we design a proper investment strategy for the client.
Typically the answer is “no”. We do not sell consultative services on a hourly basis—our clients are looking for an advisor to work with over a period of time to help them achieve their life goals, and we can’t do that on a hourly basis.
Quite simply, it is the right way to do business with clients. We take a very hard line on this topic—either a Financial Advisor is a fiduciary and is solely compensated by his or her clients or they’re not---there is no in-between. If an advisor is not a Fee-Only only Fiduciary, it means that he or she has serious conflicts of interest between what’s best for the advisor and what’s best for the client. We never want to have that conflict, so Ivy League Financial Advisors has been a Fee-Only Fiduciary for its clients from day one.
In short, advisors who are compensated on a “Fee-Only” basis are compensated solely by their client and not from third parties from the sale of investment or insurance product. “Fee-Based” refers to a compensation system in which an advisor may be paid on either a fee basis or via commissions from the sale of investment or insurance products. Fee-Based advisors generally arenot fiduciaries for their clients—because there is an inherent conflict of interest in the products they are using.
There are many different definitions of the term fiduciary—a legal definition, and regulatory definition, a dictionary definition and a layman’s definition. We think the best definition is as follows: “A financial advisor held to a fiduciary standard occupies a position of special trust and confidence. As a fiduciary, the advisor is required to act with undivided loyalty to the client. This includes disclosure of how the advisor is to be compensated and any corresponding conflicts of interest.” In short, it means putting the client’s interest first and doing what’s best for him or her.
Absolutely not. The broker industry’s long-standing business model is one of selling products, not providing objective advice. If the health care industry was set up like the financial service industry, doctors would have an education equivalent to a biology degree from college, work for a pharmaceutical industry, and be paid based on how many prescriptions he/she wrote. Sound crazy? Yet that is the way most financial services are still delivered through product sales.. A broker’s fiduciary duty is to his or her firm—not to his or her clients—although he or she will never tell you about this serious conflict of interest.
A Registered Investment Advisor, or RIA, is a regulatory definition given to an advisor who offers investment advice on securities which is more than solely incidental than the professional relationship to the client. Registered Investment Advisors are regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (or state regulatory authorities) via the Investment Advisor Act of 1940. A Registered Investment Advisor is, by law, held to a fiduciary standard of care in dealing with his or her clients—a standard which put the client’s interests above those of the advisor.
Christopher Brown is a Certified Financial Planner®. He is also an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. Most importantly, he is a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor®.
Brokers (or brokers-dealers such as representatives of wirehouses like Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, or UBS) are regulated by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 which gives self-regulatory organizations (SROs) the ability to regulate their own members. In 2007, the Financial Industrial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) was created to regulate broker dealers.
It is important to remember that FINRA holds its broker-dealers only to a suitability standard, not a fiduciary standard. A suitability standard is a much lower standard and only requires a broker-dealer to make recommendations that are consistent with the best interests of the underlying customer.
For more discussion on the fiduciary vs. suitability standard, click on this link.
We have had a wonderful relationship with TD Ameritrade Institutional Services for over 13 years. We have found them to be very responsive to our clients needs, have reasonable fees for our clients, and equally as important, server as an advocate for investor protection. The other two large independent custodians in the industry, Charles Schwab Institutional and Fidelity Institutional have kept silent on issues of investor protection, or even worse, have supported position contrary to what’s best for their own clients. To learn more about TD Ameritrade Institutional’s steadfast commitment to investor protection, click on this link.
Your assets at TD Ameritrade Institutional Services are protected 4 ways:
In addition, TD Ameritrade takes the issue of internet security very seriously. Please click on this link to learn the details about how TD Ameritrade protections your hard-earned assets.
We work in conjunction with a client’s other advisors, such as accountants, attorneys and insurance specialists to make sure that the client’s financial well-being is addressed in a coordinated, holistic manner.
We meet with clients as often as their personal circumstances dictate—sometimes once a year, sometimes multiple times a year.
We do not prepare taxes; however, we work in conjunction with a client’s tax advisor to develop and implement a coordinated tax strategy, as well as provide the tax advisor with the requisite supporting tax documents.
We work in conjunction with insurance experts to review each client’s insurance coverage to make sure that their risk is appropriated mitigated. One of our many services that distinguishes us from other advisors is that we have access to professions who can provide insurance products and annuities at a very low commission rate.
As the custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional provides monthly statement. In addition, your account information is available to you online 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. At Ivy League Financial Advisors, we provide performance statements on quarterly basis and give you access to our online system though Albridge Wealth Reporting to run performance reports on an on-demand basis.
Our investment philosophy is based on developing an appropriate strategy for each client after we learn their goals and objectives. That being said, there are several investment principles that we use:
One of our many strengths is to be able to put together a coordinated investment plan across all of a client’s accounts. We use a “tops-down” approach to develop the overall asset allocation, then determine which particular investments are suited for which types of accounts. For example, tax-inefficient investments such as bonds are best suited for tax-deferred accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Then, we use Albridge Wealth Reporting to pull off of our clients’ accounts—TD Ameritrade Accounts, 401(k) accounts, annuities, etc. into one concise report so our clients know exactly what there investments are and how they fit together.
Contact us for a free no obligation follow-up call and consulation.
© 2023 Ivy League Financial Advisors LLC
11 North Washington Street, Suite 250, Rockville, MD 20850