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financial faq

Your top financial questions answered

1. Can you tell me about the financial planning process?

Financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important related but distinct aspects (1) an in-depth review of your current financial situation, and (2) a roadmap that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future. We help provide the recommendations to bring you  from where you are to where you want to be.   It is important to remember that financial planning is a process . . . it is not an event.

2. How do you create this roadmap?

First we focus on your goals, objectives, priorities and values. For instance: the reduction of current and future income taxes may be an immediate goal, funding a quality education for your children and/or grandchildren may be an intermediate goal, and enjoying a secure financial future in your retirement years is likely to be one of your most important long-term goals. Another goal for some people is creating wealth in order to leaving a legacy for your chosen beneficiaries or charities.

You may already be on the road to meeting these objectives and simply need a new strategy, professional insight, or to fine-tune your plan. You may just be starting out, or you may be somewhere in between. Whatever your unique situation may be, everyone needs a periodic assessment of where they are on the road to meeting their financial goals. That’s why we do an in-depth review of your current financial situation.

Next, you need to know exactly what you can do to work toward achieving your financial goals. By focusing on cash flow, investments, taxes, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues, savings opportunities and other general financial matters, we design a customized financial plan for you.

Finally, to achieve the intended results, you must implement and monitor your plan.

3. Who can benefit most from your services?

Any individual seeking financial peace of mind can benefit from our services. We serve people at all income levels, in all stages of life. Clients have the flexibility to work with us on either a one-time, as-needed or an ongoing basis. We welcome clients who simply need a one-time financial consultation or a second opinion, as well as those who need broad-based financial planning services. In addition, any corporation or organization seeking quality, unbiased financial education for their employees or members can benefit from our financial education programs.

4. What is “Fee-Only” financial planning and why should that be important to me?

We work with clients on a Fee-Only basis, meaning we do not accept commissions of any kind and all of our compensation comes from our clients and nowhere else. Because we do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, there are no third-party relationships or outside companies to influence our thinking and financial recommendations. We feel this is the most objective way to provide financial advice.

Please note that “Fee-Based” and “Fee-Only” advisors are two different models. “Fee-Based” means that your financial professional might accept a combination of commissions, fees, incentives, referral fees, or other compensation methods. "Fee-Only" means that your financial professional accepts only fees and only from their client. While “Fee-Only” financial advisors are legally required to act in the customer’s best interest 100% of the time, “Fee-Based” financial advisors may not be required to act this way all of the time.

5. I understand the benefits of working with a Fee-Only financial planner, but I might need to obtain financial products. How will I be able to do that?

While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations and opinions regarding the purchase of the various financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy or a new mortgage, invest into a portfolio of mutual funds, execute a will or trust, we can direct you to the resources you need and/ or help you obtain these products and services. If appropriate, we can also help you implement your plan and set up your accounts.

6. Does Synergy Financial Planning provide only broad-based financial planning?

No, we offer other options such as hourly planning, on-going advice planning or professional portfolio management.  Every client is unique and our broad choice of engagement methods reflect that.  

7. My spouse and I are just beginning to build for our financial future. We need help and guidance to get started. Will you accept us as clients?

Yes. Some firms have income levels and/or net worth minimums, but Synergy Financial Planning realizes that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels, and all stages of their life. Remember, “You don’t have to have a fortune to start building one.”

8. I have already accumulated substantial assets and think I am doing quite well. But I want to be sure I am on track. Can you help me?

Yes. People who need more sophisticated financial planning or advice will find our services appealing and beneficial. If you have a desire to simplify your financial affairs, working with Synergy Financial Planning may be right for you. If you are looking for a professional review or a second opinion to ensure you are on track, we can provide that, too.

9. If I work with Synergy Financial Planning to develop a financial plan, am I obligated to purchase the recommended products?

Absolutely not. We will offer recommendations which in our professional opinion will meet your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to purchase them. In today’s competitive market, it makes sense to shop around for the best available product or service. For instance, if you need to obtain a life insurance or disability policy, we will suggest the kind of policy, which riders and what amounts may be best for you. We will then direct you to a choice of companies that can provide a quality product at competitive prices for you. If you wish, we can help you purchase investments and/or set up your accounts with a third-party custodian.

10. How do you price your financial planning services?

The fees are based on the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations and implementation assistance (if appropriate). Our current hourly rate is $180 per hour. An estimate of fees will be provided during the introductory meeting, when your needs have been fully identified. We also have ongoing advice services that involve a one-time fee to start and modest monthly ongoing fees.

11. Are your fees tax deductible?

Prior to 2018, Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A, subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return. However, starting in 2018 and continuing until the end of 2025, Section 212 miscellaneous deductions of any type may have been eliminated with the new tax regulations.  Please consult with your tax professional to see what applies to your situation.

12. Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end?

With our ongoing advice model, the relationship continues for as long as you want and as often as you need. For hourly or broad based fixed fee engagements, once your plan is presented to you, our engagement ends. However, our relationship does not. We know that questions may arise as a client begins to implement their plan or as things change over time. Be assured that you can reach out to us anytime.  

Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we also offer periodic reviews and as-needed consultations as requested for all types of planning engagements. 

13. How can I get started?

The first step is an initial inquiry from you.  We offer an initial no-cost, no-obligation introductory meeting, either on the phone or via Zoom. For these meetings, appointments are scheduled based on availability during regular business hours. Expanded hours and weekends are available as well by appointment.