Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is financial planning important to me?
- Who can best benefit from your financial planning services?
- What is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and why should I consider using one for financial advice?
- What does "fee-only" mean?
- How does the financial planning process work?
- Do I have to receive a full financial plan? What if I want to focus on one facet of my financial situation --such as a 401K rollover, funding my children's
- What if my financial plan shows I can't attain the goals I have set?
- If I engage GC Financial Advisors for advice on my investment portfolio, how do you identify investments for me?
- Do I have to turn over my investment funds to you to have them invested?
- How do you price your financial planning services?
- Once you have provided me with the plan and implemented your recommendations, is our relationship ended?
- How do we get started?
Q: Why is financial planning important to me?
Sound financial planning can help you formulate meaningful life goals and provide a road map for attaining them. It can help you understand the various tradeoffs that the dynamics of one’s life sometimes dictate.
Knowing where you are at, where you would like to be and how to best get there provides the financial peace of mind we all look for. A good financial plan provides the road map.
Q: Who can best benefit from your financial planning services?
Obtaining sound financial planning and advice can be a versatile and useful exercise for people at all stages of life. Whether you are just starting out and want to get a head start on buying a house and planning a family or are a seasoned investor who has amassed a sizable portfolio and are looking for an objective second opinion, GC Financial Advisors can be of service. We can also assist those who are seeking to better manage debt or address a one-time event such as investing an inheritance or analyzing a home purchase decision. One of the major benefits of good financial planning is getting a clear understanding of where you are in your financial life, understanding where you would like to be and determining how best to get there.
Q: What is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and why should I consider using one for financial advice?
A Certified Financial Planner™ professional must meet rigid requirements to be awarded that designation. Extensive coursework covering a wide range of financial topics is required. All successful candidates must pass a rigorous, 2 day examination that typically has a pass rate less than 60%.
Three years of hands on, relevant experience is the final requirement to receive the CFP® designation. Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner also must meet a formal continuing education requirement every two years to ensure they stay up to date on current financial planning issues.
In addition, Certified Financial Planner™ professionals are bound by a strict Code of Ethics and are obligated to serve their clients in a fiduciary role. This means CFP® practitioners must put the interests of their clients before their own interests. This promotes an atmosphere of trust between yourself and your planner.
All of this ensures that you receive qualified, objective financial advice developed with your goals and interests in mind.
Q: What does “Fee-Only” mean?
“Fee-only” refers to the method of compensation for the financial planner. Fee-only financial planners are compensated solely by fees paid by their clients. Commissions from third parties (or sources other than clients) are not accepted.
This eliminates the conflicts of interest that can arise from third party commissions which could unduly influence the product or investment choices recommended by a planner. You can be assured that objective financial advice is tendered with your best interests in mind.
Q: How does the financial planning process work?
Sound financial planning is a multidimensional process.
Once you decide to proceed, it’s important to understand where you are at – your current financial situation. This involves the collection and review of your important financial information.
Next, you would work with us to identify where you are going – the financial goals you have set for yourself and your family.
We then go about the task of analyzing and evaluating your financial situation. From this analysis, financial planning recommendations and alternatives are developed and presented to you.
Discussion of these recommendations would follow and those that are appropriate for you would be implemented. We can coordinate the entire process with you and other professionals, such as attorneys, whom you may designate.
Finally, given the dynamics of today’s financial world and everyday life, it’s important to monitor your progress toward your goals and modify and adapt them as your life circumstances change.
Q: Do I have to receive a full financial plan? What if I want to focus on one facet of my financial situation – such as a 401K rollover, funding my children’s education or evaluating my retirement options?
Many facets of your financial life are interrelated, and a comprehensive financial plan typically provides the most complete action plan for your financial situation. However, a fee-only planner can offer you advice focused primarily on specific components of your financial situation. This allows your highest priority needs to be addressed first. Financial planning advice can be provided in other areas on an as needed, as requested basis.
Q: What if my financial plan shows I can’t attain the goals I have set?
This is a common concern. However, ignoring a problem does not make it go away. The planning process will help identify these situations at the earliest possible moment. This will afford you the best opportunity to change behavior to better achieve goals or set your objectives more realistically. It can help you understand what tradeoffs exist between current behavior and its future consequences. Planning allows you to discover where you are today so you can make more intelligent decisions about your future.
Q: If I engage GC Financial Advisors for advice on my investment portfolio, how do you identify investments for me?
Based on your overall financial situation and objectives, an appropriate asset allocation is determined for your investment portfolio. We would then proceed to implement this asset allocation strategy using appropriate investment vehicles. This may include equity and fixed income exposure using no load, low expense mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Most clients are comfortable with the efficiency, professional management, simplicity and diversification available from quality mutual fund companies. Philosophically, we feel that the core of most investment portfolios would consist of index funds that track the performance of specific indices designed to match that of specific market segments (for instance, large cap stocks, international stocks, US Treasuries, intermediate term municipal bonds etc.) We generally select no load funds that have a modest expense ratio, an established track record and that closely track their underlying indices.
In addition, depending on your circumstances, we may also recommend actively managed mutual funds, individual stocks and bonds or other products, such as annuities and money market vehicles. The composition of your investment portfolio is determined by a number of factors including your objectives, income needs, tolerance for risk, and the amount of funds available for investment.
Q: Do I have to turn over my investment funds to you to have them invested?
Typically, we do not take control of your investment funds. We would provide you with investment recommendations and assist you with implementing those recommendations. However, you would retain control over access to your invested funds.
Once invested, monitoring your portfolio is an important part of the planning process as well. See our Monitoring Retainer service for additional details.
Q: How do you price your financial planning services?
We are compensated by fees based on the time spent meeting with you in person or over the phone reviewing and analyzing your financial information and situation, researching and developing recommendations and providing assistance with implementation. We do not sell products or receive commissions. Once the scope of the services you desire is defined, GC Financial Advisors will provide an estimate of the total cost of those services. We can also provide options and costs for ongoing monitoring assistance designed to make sure you are progressing satisfactorily toward your goals or are properly reacting to market dynamics and changes in your financial situation.
Q: Once you have provided me with the plan and implemented your recommendations is our relationship ended?
Financial planning is a dynamic process and the majority of our clients benefit from ongoing consultation. This ongoing consultation can be provided on a regular basis (annually, semi-annually or more frequently if you wish). This continuing relationship can ensure timely monitoring and allow modifications to your plan to respond to changes in market conditions or your financial or personal situation. This consultation service can be provided on an affordable, efficient hourly cost basis.
Q: How do we get started?
Contact us at 630-809-3027 or email us at [email protected]. We can answer your preliminary questions and arrange a free, no obligation consultation, either in person or on the phone. Should you move forward by engaging our financial services, we can identify which services work best for you and determine the proper scope of our engagement. Getting a clearer view of your financial picture helps develop the best strategies for attaining your financial goals and the peace of mind that accompanies that.
Thank you for your interest in your future and GC Financial Advisors Ltd. Please feel free to contact us for more information.