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What does a financial planner do for me?

A lot! When you hire me, you're hiring me to help you make good money decisions. The work I do for you could involve talking about your career path, budgeting, managing household bills, negotiating salary, choosing the right benefits from your employer, starting a business, making sure you have the right insurance coverage, deciding on an investment plan, saving for your children's college education, finding the right time to retire, helping you determine the right time to start receiving social security, making sure you have your estate planning basics in place, and more! 

Most importantly, my goal is to make sure you're not only more at peace and comfortable with your money, but also that you can achieve the financial goals and life goals you've set for your future.

How do I know if I need a financial planner?

Planning is for everyone. Although you usually have to do less work to accomplish your dreams if you start at 30 than if you start at 50, it's never too late to establish a financial plan and start saving and investing in your future.

Why should I work with a financial planner?

Financial advisors and financial planners are not just for people that have money. You should consider working with a financial advisor if:

      • You have money concerns
      • You want more confidence in your financial future
      • You need a more structured retirement income strategy
      • You need help evaluating insurance solutions
      • You want to reduce your business 401(k) costs
      • You have a high net worth
      • You’re nearing or in retirement
Why should I choose Escient Financial?

You have a choice when it comes to forming a relationship with a financial planner, and it's an important choice. With Escient Financial you get many things that you may not find with other financial planners or financial advisors. That includes someone who is a fiduciary, enhanced and ensured with an advice-only format with no commissions, simple flat fees instead of assets-under-management fees, and independence from corporate mandates so that you always get a financial plan with the right advice for you and your situation and goals in mind.

What is a fiduciary and the fiduciary standard?

A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person, persons, or entity to manage assets. Essentially, a fiduciary owes to that other person, persons, or entity the duties of good faith, trust, loyalty, and care. Fiduciary duty is the highest legal duty of one party to another, and being a fiduciary requires me to be bound ethically to act in your best interests. I adhere to the fiduciary standard and code of ethics of the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.

What does "fee-only" mean?

Fee-only financial advisors are paid directly by clients for their services, be it a monthly fee, flat fee, hourly rate, or  percentage of assets under management. Fee-only financial advisors are never paid a commission for selling any specific product. Being a fee-only advisor is the best way to align my clients' interests with my own, and reduce potential conflicts of interest or issues with fiduciary responsibility.

What does "advice-only" mean?

Advice-only means that only advice is being paid for and provided. There are no investment management services that are offered or provided. Rather than transferring control of your investment accounts to a financial advisor, you remain in control of all of your accounts and your investments within them. Advice for specific investments is included in the financial plan as a recommendation and you can simply make those trades on your own. Assistance can easily be provided should you need assistant with implementing recommendations, such as trades, rebalancing, Roth conversions, and anything else you may need help with at no additional cost. This model helps eliminate conflicts of interest because you're not paying money out of your investment accounts to the financial advisor, so there is no push for you to transfer or rollover your accounts to the management of the advisor, especially 401(k) accounts which would lose some important benefits. The advice-only model also helps keep the fees you pay for financial planning and investment advice much lower. It doesn't matter if you have $200,000 or $10 million, where you might pay as much as $100,000 per year (the typical 1% annual AUM fee on $10 million of investments) in advisor fees when the advisor may not actually be doing much with your investments. You'll pay a simple flat fee so you can save more for your retirement and other goals.

I just need help figuring out how to budget and manage my money. Can you help?

Absolutely! I can work with you on specific cash flow and money management tactics like budgeting, bank account structure, and financial habits.

Will I receive a physical financial plan?

Because the financial plan changes as your life changes, the financial plan primarily lives in the financial planning software and is available to access 24/7 for current clients. Current clients can receive their financial plan in a PDF format at any time. It will contain all the current financial information, goals, recommendations, and summaries for each focus area.

For clients who are in the initial 6-month comprehensive financial planning, a detailed report of the financial plan is provided in PDF format at the end of the 6-month term, and that will include additional information such as investment analysis reports, which are typically provided separately in the RightCapital Vault.

For clients with ongoing financial planning, the real power of the financial plan will be in the financial planning software, where clients can dynamically explore the possibilities of their plan with the financial planner, as well as see their financial plan change and grow as their lives progress. Although the financial planning software will present a better experience, ongoing financial planning clients can still receive a PDF report from the financial planning software at any time as mentioned above.

How long do you expect planning to take?

Of course, the short answer is everyone's favorite: it depends. The less complex your situation is, the less time is needed to develop and implement your financial plan. The more complex your situation is, the more time it will take. The fact is, though, that your life will change and so your financial plan will change with it. Financial planning is really something that continues on throughout your life. Some people may be able to get a financial plan, implement the recommendations, and be okay for a few years, only needing to come back when necessary. Other people may find it necessary to get a comprehensive financial plan, but then continue with it on an ongoing basis to ensure they stay on course toward their goals.

Whatever your situation, Escient Financial is here to help and to serve your needs. That is why Escient Financial offers an Initial Comprehensive Financial Plan and then enables clients to continue with their financial planning with the Ongoing Comprehensive Financial Planning service.

This sounds like a lot of work and a difficult process. Is it?

It's a lot of work, but that's mostly for me. We'll take it one step a time. First we have a complimentary introductory call to get to know each other. Then if we feel we'll be a good match we'll schedule another discovery call where I'll get some information from you. I will even need some documents. However, I make it really easy to upload them electronically and some of the information is gathered by linking up your accounts into the planning software directly so that we avoid a lot of back and forth. Once that's done, I'll develop your financial plan, we'll review it and make adjustments if necessary, and then I'll help you implement the plan. 

It is a little bit of work up front, but it will be worth it. I'll make it as easy as possible, and I'll guide you and help you every step of the way.

What if I'm embarrassed about giving you all my financial information?

The majority of people are not comfortable with their finances and lack the knowledge of how to handle money effectively. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. They should teach this stuff in high school before anyone journeys out into the real world, but they don't. So that's why I'm here... to help you and not judge you. And on this journey you'll learn a lot. You'll see your net worth, all your accounts in one place, and you'll know the possibility of reaching your goals. And that's just the beginning.

Who would not be a good fit?

If you're not ready to get serious about your personal finances, you won't be a good fit. I won't be able to serve you the way my clients deserve and expect to be served if you aren't going to be committed.

Do I have to be in your area?

I am able to work with clients anywhere in the U.S. virtually via Zoom or other video conferencing services (FaceTime, Google Meet, etc.). This allows us to be as efficient as possible and avoid unnecessary travel time.

Where exactly is your office?

At this time I work out of a home office. This allows me to keep my fees low. If this changes in the future, the website will be updated and all clients will be notified.

Is there a minimum amount of money I need to have to work with you?

Absolutely not! We'll start with where you are. It's never too early or too late to start saving and investing, and any amount you begin with now will be beneficial to you in your future.

How much does it cost to work with you?

Escient Financial offers service options that include an Initial Comprehensive Financial Plan for a one-time fee broken up into 6 payments. After that, if you want to continue with the financial planning, there is an Ongoing Comprehensive Financial Planning service for a smaller monthly fee. This is great to continue the financial planning process as you implement recommendations, as well as to keep your financial plan up-to-date as your life changes. There is also a Starter Ongoing Financial Planning service for those who are just getting started and have low complexity and little to no investments. You can see more about the pricing on the Pricing page.

Do you charge for consultations?

There's no charge for the initial complimentary introductory consultation. There's no obligation and the best way to schedule that is to schedule it online here. If you don't like online schedulers, feel free to call 805-864-6555 whenever you're ready.

Do I need to contact you prior to setting up an introductory meeting?

Nope! All you need to do is go to Complimentary Introductory Meeting page and select a day and time you'd like to meet. It's that easy! If you don't like online schedulers, feel free to call 805-864-6555 whenever you're ready.

Is this something I can do myself?

That is a personal choice. I have education, training, and certifications specifically for financial planning and investment management. There are many details and nuances that not everyone will pick up on or understand, and everyone and their situation is different. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to financial planning or investment management. That's why I'm here... to guide you along the journey to your financial future.

How do you get paid?

I am a fee-only financial planner and adhere to the fiduciary (not the suitability) standard because that is the right thing to do for clients. You are the only one who pays me and as such, I work for you, and everything I do for you and all the advice I give you is always in your best interest.

How do I pay you?

Escient Financial has a billing system that can automatically collect payment from you each month via ACH (from your checking account). Escient Financial also accepts payment with select cryptocurrencies through Coinbase or directly to the firm's wallet.

How do your fees stack up against the industry?

Escient Financial strives to offer the greatest value to clients to help improve their financial future. Escient Financial's fees include both Financial Planning and Investment Advice, and the fees are highly competitive!

As you search for a financial advisor, you will likely notice that most charge a percentage of the amount of assets they manage for you, which you have to transfer to them. This is called an Assets Under Management (AUM) fee. According to the 2020 AdvisoryHQ report "Average Financial Advisor Fees & Costs", for firms that charge clients an AUM fee, the average annual advisor fee on a $500,000 portfolio is 1.05% (which equates to $5,250) and trails down slightly to 1.02% on a $1 million portfolio (which equates to $10,200). That is an amount paid each year. For a $5 million portfolio, the fee can be as high as $50,000 per year.

Escient Financial provides a comprehensive financial plan, including advice on specific investments, for a flat fee. An initial comprehensive financial plan with support for 6 months of service ranges between only $3,500 and $5,000. Clients who continue the comprehensive financial planning service pay a monthly fee between $125 and $200 per month ($1,500 to $2,400 per year) for Ongoing Comprehensive Financial Planning, including specific investment advice.

That is a big difference and a lot of savings that Escient Financial's clients are able to utilize for enjoyment and investing toward achieving their life goals.

Where is my money and investments held if I work with you?

Escient Financial is an advice-only financial planner. That means that Escient Financial does not manage your investments, so there is no need for your to transfer your money or your investments to anywhere different than where you already have them. You will maintain complete control of all of your money and your investments. It is possible that Escient Financial may recommend you open accounts at different investment firms or broker-dealers than you already use, but that is a choice for you to make and you will open the accounts yourself and have full control. Escient Financial will not have any access to your accounts, other than what you connect in RightCapital to view balances and holdings in your financial plan. Escient Financial will never have access to transfer money to, from, or between your accounts, or buy, sell, or trade your investments.

What if I prefer to manage my own investments?

Then you've come to the right place. Escient Financial is an advice only financial planner and investment advisor so you will still be provided with  personalized advice for your investments that you can implement on your own.

What if I decide to stop working with you? How do I transfer my money?

While I certainly want to invest in long-term relationships with my clients, since Escient Financial is advice-only, you are always in control of your money and investment assets. There is no need to transfer your money or investments anywhere if you want to cancel.

What is your stance on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency?

Digital assets (Bitcoin and cryptocurrency) are the newest asset class, and the first new asset class that's been introduced in a very long time. I firmly believe that the blockchain technology behind digital assets is the future of finance and many other things, but there is no way to predict the future. Digital assets offer the possibility of great opportunities for growth in an investment portfolio, and they have performed extremely well in the past. The past, however, is not a predictor of the future. It's also important to understand that they can be highly volatile and risky. There is currently a lack of regulatory clarity as compared to other investment assets. The future of digital assets is uncertain and should still be considered speculative, and should be considered only by investors willing and able to take on the volatility and risk and potentially endure substantial loss. These types of investments are not going to be right for everyone. Escient Financial works with its clients to determine the right investments for their investment portfolio.

Why don't you custody and manage my digital assets?

The main reason Escient Financial does not manage digital assets is because it's an advice-only financial planning firm. This helps eliminate conflicts of interest and keeps the financial planning fees lower, providing a better value for clients. Escient Financial will provide education, advice, and guidance on digital assets investments, so you can still take advantage of this newest asset class to help you achieve your goals.

There are a few more reasons why Escient Financial does not offer management of clients' digital assets...

There are limited options for advisors to use for custody and management of digital assets for clients. Of the options that are available, all are relatively new with a limited track record. Escient Financial would prefer to wait longer before recommending specific custodians for custody and management of client assets. Also, of the custody and management options that are available, all have limited assets, coins, and tokens that may be purchased or sold through them. Many more options are available to investors through exchanges, and investors even have the ability to open accounts at multiple exchanges to increase the options available to them and lower the various fees involved with trading and transferring digital assets. There are also additional ways to acquire digital assets and earn interest and rewards through a variety of centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges and apps.

The transaction and custody fees that are charged to clients through the advisor custody and management services are significantly higher than if clients open their own accounts at exchanges. Those fees could be 8 times or more higher. Escient Financial is always looking out for the best interests of its clients, and making sure clients are paying lower fees helps improve the overall performance of their investment portfolios. Higher fees can eat away at investor gains, especially over the long term, and especially for those who like to trade or rebalance more frequently.

By having clients manage their own digital assets they also have the option of self-custody. Self-custody is when a person holds their digital assets in their own wallets that they have the private keys for, instead of on an exchange. When the digital assets are on an exchange, technically a person doesn't possess those digital assets. It is really a promise by the exchange to give the person those assets if they want to withdraw them. If the exchange gets hacked or has some other calamitous event occur it's possible investors could lose their investments since there is no federally-backed insurance for exchanges at this time. Some exchanges have their own insurance, but the amount is generally considered too low if there was a major hack or loss of assets at the exchange. Although it requires more care and responsibility, holding your own digital assets and cryptocurrencies in your own wallet, where you keep the private keys yourself, is considered the most secure way to invest in and hold digital assets.

Which option is best (keeping assets on an exchange or self-custody) is going to vary for each individual and their needs. In general, as long as you are capable of, and willing to, take on the responsibility of self-custody, that will generally be the safest place to keep your digital assets. Self-custody is usually going to be the recommendation of Escient Financial, but since every person's situation is different, we would have a discussion surrounding that, and if the decision is to not self-custody, then we would discuss ways to protect your investments on exchanges or other custodians. To help clients manage their own investments, and self-custody if they wish to, Escient Financial does offer education and instruction on how to do so as part of its Comprehensive Financial Planning services.

All that said, the digital assets industry is changing rapidly. There could be a time in the future when there is a good, reliable, and safe implementation of custody services for digital assets that will compel Escient Financial to offer management of clients' crypto and digital assets.