What is Financial Planning?

Financial planning is the process of assessing your current financial situation and setting goals for yourself (and your family) to achieve. Comprehensive or also called “in-depth” financial planning should include:

  • Retirement planning
  • Investment management
  • Income & cash flow management
  • Tax planning & strategies
  • Estate & legacy planning
  • Risk management (insurance)
  • Educational planning and savings (if needed)

Why do I need financial planning?

Financial planning is important for many reasons. This process assesses your overall financial health and maps out the path to reach your financial goals. Your goals are unique but we typically see clients wanting to achieve goals like retirement, becoming debt-free, starting a business, buying a second home, saving for college, etc. The best way to achieve any goal is to have a plan. This plan can change over time but ultimately, financial planning gives you the direction to go in and the steps to take to get there.

How much does financial planning cost?

Financial planning costs vary widely depending on the firm and complexity of your situation. At Wiser Wealth Management, we have two service models. We can manage investment accounts for you (which includes ongoing financial planning services) or we also offer one-time financial planning services for a flat fee. Our management fees range from 1.50% – 0.50% per year based on the amount of assets in your portfolio. The average cost of our flat-fee financial planning model ranges from $3,500 – $6,000. But quite honestly, we believe that the cost of having a financial plan (or a financial planner) far out weighs the cost of not having a financial plan. Not having a financial plan means your finances aren’t necessarily working toward your goals in the best way.

Do you earn a commission on investments you recommend?

No, we never work off of commissions. We are a fee-only firm, and fee-only means we have simple and transparent fees for our services. Our fees will be outlined in the client agreement you sign. As a fee-only firm, we do not have any hidden or extra fees. Alternatively, fee-based firms charge management fees plus receive commission-based fees on financial products they recommend to you (annuities, whole-life insurance policies, etc.).

How do you charge your fees?

If we are managing investment accounts for you, then we charge an investment management fee on a quarterly basis. We directly debit your managed accounts each quarter, based on the fee schedule in your agreement. Our annual fees range from 1.50% to 0.5% based on the amount of assets we manage for you. So if your annually fee is 1.0%, then your quarterly fee would be 0.25%. You will receive a billing statement each quarter with your breakdown in fees. Our ongoing financial planning services are included in your quarterly fee.

If we are working with you for flat-fee financial planning, we total up the hours of planning we would need and charge you a flat fee of that total. Half of the fee is due upfront to start the planning process with us and the remainder is due at your financial plan delivery. This covers all the work in preparing your plan from start to finish. And you have access to your planning team even after your plan is complete. If you would like to come back in the future to update your plan, you will pay our hourly rate for that meeting.

What does it mean to be a fiduciary advisor?

Being a fiduciary means that we are legally responsible to act in the client’s best interest at all times. This includes the investments we recommend and the advice we provide. Being a fiduciary financial advisor is important to us, and it should give you confidence that the advice you receive is in your best interest. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries, especially ones at bigger, well-known firms. This is an important question to always ask when you are looking for a financial advisor.

Does your firm have an account size minimum?

No, we do not have a minimum account size that we manage, although we have different services available depending on your financial situation. But to be totally transparent, we have found that our assets under management services (including ongoing financial planning) are most valuable for families who have around $1 million or more in assets.

This is the main reason why we also offer a flat fee option for one-time financial planning. We also offer a investment platform through Betterment for accounts under $250,000 that has a reduced annual fee of 0.50%. With this platform, you still have access to our portfolio models plus high yield savings accounts that are not charged a fee. Regardless of what your financial situation is, we’re happy to chat and see if we can help.

Do I need to live in the Atlanta area to work with you?

Definitely not! We work people from all over the country, thanks to technology. It solely depends on how comfortable you are with the way we work together. We can meet virtually, over the phone, in our office or in some cases, at another location of your choosing. But honestly, a lot of our clients are located in the Metro Atlanta area and enjoy coming to our office near the historic Marietta square. But we are happy to meet you wherever you are!

How can you help me with tax planning?

Full disclosure: we are not CPAs or an accounting firm. We are familiar with common tax laws related to financial planning, but when it comes to in-depth tax planning strategies and tax preparation, we will refer you to a CPA firm within our trusted network of professionals. If you already have a tax professional, that’s great too! We can work alongside them to help you take advantage of tax savings and advanced tax planning strategies.

How can you help me with estate planning?

Full disclosure: we are not attorneys or legal representatives. We can only offer suggestions on estate planning needs for your specific situation. For any legal matters, we can refer you to a law firm within our trusted network that can help with your estate planning or other legal needs. Having a cohesive relationship with local firms, we can help facilitate legal processes for our clients. We can also work alongside your attorney to provide a seamless approach to your estate planning.

Who will I be working with at your firm?

We utilize a team approach here at Wiser Wealth Management. Our financial planning teams consist of a Senior Financial Advisor and a Financial Planning Associate to deliver financial plans to new clients of the firm. Our Client Services team supports our financial planning teams in opening and maintaining client accounts. Our firm also has an Investment Manager who works with our planning team to construct and rebalance client portfolios.

As far as behind the scenes, we also have two committees made up of all advisory professionals at the firm. The Investment Committee and Financial Planning Committee meet on a regular basis to collaborate on client portfolios and financial plans.