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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a Fiduciary and what is Fee-only financial planning?

Plain and simple, a fiduciary puts your needs above their own.  All the time.  Fee-only financial planners are registered investment advisors with a fiduciary responsibility to act in their clients' best interest. They do not accept commissions nor do they sell any products.  Fee-only advisors have fewer conflicts of interest, and the generally provide more comprehensive advice. We adhere strictly to this rule.  

What is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner?

Considered the "gold standard" by many, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation or CFP® ensures a few things. Those with this designation have gone through a rigorous education process, have passed a two-day comprehensive exam, hold a bachelor's degree, have at least 6,000 hours of professional experience, and last but not least, adhere to the CFP® Board code of ethics.

What can a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner do for me?

Do you wonder if you will be able to retire comfortably? What’s the best way to save or pay for your kids’ college education? Want to buy a new house or a vacation home and not sure if you can afford it? Thinking about starting a small business? Are you concerned about taxes? What if you want to do all of these things at the same time? Where would you start? A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner has specialized training to deal with these kinds of questions or competing goals at the same time. We can help.

Why is working with a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner important?

A fee-only financial planner means they receive compensation solely from the fees clients pay for their services. A fee-only structure reduces potential conflicts of interest which can more easily occur when an advisor sells insurance or investment products.

Will my personal information be kept confidential?

Absolutely. It is our policy not to discuss our clients or their business with anyone, including those that have referred you to us. We do not sell or share our client list or information with any outside entities unless required by law. Even after you are no longer a client, we uphold this policy. Please view our Privacy Policy for more information.

How safe is my data and personal information?

We utilize the utmost care in protecting our client’s data. First, we abide by Massachusetts laws which require one of the highest levels of privacy and protection of client information in the United States. We use password-protected sites and change passwords on a regular basis. All non-electronic information is kept under lock and key, and when it is no longer needed, paper documents are shredded. To ensure the safety of client data on copy machines, faxes or scanners, software is installed that regularly erases all information. We also utilize encrypted email as an added layer of security.

How do you keep up-to-date on critical financial planning topics?

In order to maintain their CFP® designations, Rick and Lyman must complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) during every two-year period. CE’s are courses or lectures on topics such as retirement income planning, college funding, risk management, tax planning, or investment strategies. To maintain their designations, they must attend a mandatory two-hour Ethics class every two years. Rick and Lyman also each maintain separate education and fiduciary requirements every year to maintain their respective Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, Certified College Planning Specialist™, and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designations. They also attend numerous sessions throughout the year as well as reading countless periodicals and books.

Are you a member of any professional organizations?

Lyman, Rick, and Andrew are members of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Rick is a past President and past Chairman of the Massachusetts chapter and holds the current position of Liaison with Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Lyman is a Financial Coach offering pro bono help to Dana Farber patients. Andrew and Rick are members of the Association of Certified College Planning Specialists. Rick also belongs to the Institute of Certified Divorce Financial Analysts and the Divorce Center.

Do you have any disciplinary citations against you?

No. None.  You can check the status of a financial planner at the CFP Board, the MA Division of Securities or the SEC.

Who will be responsible for my planning?

Rick and Lyman each have more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. While your primary contact will be Rick, Lyman, or Andrew, Rick and Lyman supervise all plans and recommendations.

Do you offer continuous ongoing advice regarding my financial affairs, including advice on non-investment financial issues?

Yes. For clients that have executed a client advisory agreement, we act as your key advisor and encourage you to email or call us at any time. We would much rather hear, “What do you think about...?” rather than..., “Hey, guess what I just did?” In addition, we provide updates on economic, tax or other developments throughout the year. Bear in mind, we don’t offer detailed tax or legal advice. Check with us first as we may be able to save you time and money and direct you to the right place.

If I hire you to manage my finances, do I have to sign a long-term contract?

While we are only interested in a long-term relationship, you may terminate your agreement at any time with 30 days’ written notice.

Do you take possession of my assets?

No. Your assets will be held by an independent custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional, which is responsible for safekeeping your securities and providing you with monthly or quarterly account statements. Investment checks are made payable directly to “TD Ameritrade for the Benefit of (your account name).” You will never make a check payable to us except to pay for financial planning or consulting services. Even then, your check is only payable to Financial Planning Solutions, LLC. Investment checks should never be made payable directly to Lyman, Rick, or any employee of Financial Planning Solutions, LLC.

If I’m transferring an account from another firm, do I need to sell everything first?

No. We usually transfer all assets just as they are held at your current brokerage or mutual fund firm. The entire transfer process takes place between the operations departments of TD Ameritrade Institutional and your current firm. While there’s no requirement to contact your former broker or advisor to affect this transfer, we recommend that you contact them as a courtesy.

Will you talk to me before changing my investments?

Your Client Advisory Agreement grants us the authority to buy and sell securities on your behalf. However, we will not change your overall investment strategy without reviewing it with you first. This discretionary authority allows us to make transactions to keep your investment plan on track. Most of our clients prefer not to be bothered every time we buy or sell a security, which is not that often (usually, once a year). Our independent custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional, will send you a trade confirmation any time a transaction is made.

How do you communicate with clients?

If you are an advisory client, we will be meeting with you face-to-face or virtually at least once a year for your Annual Review meeting. During the Annual Review meeting, we review your overall financial situation, goals and any changes that need to be made to your investment plan. We also contact you periodically to check in on your financial goals. In addition, we will send out a quarterly investment report and a weekly e-newsletter that includes tips on living well, recipes, nutrition, and our blog which is written by us.

How hard is it to get money if I need it?

Not difficult at all. If we manage your investments they will be held at our custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional. Requests for money are generally initiated the same day as long as we receive the request early in the day. Generally, these funds can be either mailed to you or deposited directly into your bank account, whichever you prefer.

What if I have an emergency when the office is closed?

We take great pride in being responsive to our clients and if you are having a family crisis, we want to assist. Fortunately, in our 25+ years working with clients, we have never had a client emergency requiring immediate response after business hours. We do check our email after hours and on weekends, but as you might imagine, we have families too, and need some downtime to recharge our batteries. As an added level of comfort, you can find our personal cell phone numbers on the bottom of each of your quarterly letters.

If I email or text you and don’t hear back within 24 hours, what should I do?

Please call our office at 617-630-4978. We put a high priority on responding to client inquiries as soon as possible and usually return your call the same business day. However, email can sometimes be re-routed to a spam folder. For compliance reasons, we cannot communicate about investments via text message. For time-sensitive matters, we recommend calling our office.

I understand I can sign documents you email me without having to print them out first. This sounds like a big-time saver, but how secure is this?

Our clients’ overall security is a major concern. We utilize an e-document company that offers bank-grade security and operations. The system’s comprehensive approach to security ensures the confidentiality, integrity, availability, authenticity and enforceability of your documents. Of course, if you prefer signing documents with a good old fashioned pen, we can do that too. 

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