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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you differ from stockbrokers?

We differ in six major ways:

1. We are fee-only advisers and do not sell any products. Stockbrokers typically get a commission from investments and policies they sell.

2. We are an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm and adhere to a fiduciary obligation to put your interests first. Stockbrokers only have an obligation to recommend products that are “suitable.”

3. Our advisors have completed extensive course work and exams to attain CFP®, CFA, and CPA designations. Stockbrokers, by contrast, might only have studied to obtain licenses to sell securities.

4. We provide customized, comprehensive financial solutions to you as part of our services, while stockbrokers typically don’t provide this.

5. We use a third party custodian, generally Charles Schwab & Co., to better safeguard your assets.

6. At DWM, every client receives an extraordinary experience with caring people dedicated to protecting and growing your family’s financial future.

How do you differ from insurance agents? Do you sell insurance/annuities?

We do not sell insurance products (annuities, life, disability, long term care, etc.). However, we are very familiar with insurance coverage, products, and costs. Part of our ongoing review for you includes our independent, comprehensive review of your insurance. With your approval, we are able to work with insurance agents to help you obtain the right coverage at the right price. We are not compensated in any manner from the insurance agencies, nor you for providing this service.

How do I choose the right advisor?

Choosing the right advisor may be one of the most important financial decisions you make in your lifetime. Choose an advisor you feel comfortable with-both personally and professionally. It’s smart to take your time, talk face-to-face and ask the right questions.

Print out the NAPFA questionnaire and bring it to your advisor interviews.

What is the responsibility of a Fiduciary?

Acting as a Fiduciary means we are legally held to act in good faith and in the best interest of you and every client. We are required to provide written disclosure of any conflicts of interest or any other factors that could influence the choices we provide and decisions we make on your behalf.

How are you compensated?

DWM is fee-only. For our total wealth management services, we are paid a percentage of assets under management, with billing in advance at the beginning of the calendar quarter. 

What are the designations CFP®, CFA, CPA/PFS, AIF®, AWMA® and CRPC®?

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER or CFP® certification marks awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. to individuals who meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. A CFP® professional has proven competence in all areas of the financial planning process including: financial statement preparation and analysis, investment planning, income tax planning, education planning, risk management, retirement planning and estate planning.

 

The CHARTERED FINANCIAL ANALYST and CFA are designations marking a distinction that is globally recognized by investors, investment professionals and employers as the definitive standard by which to measure serious investment professionals. To earn the CFA charter, one must successfully pass through the CFA program, a graduate-level, ten major topic, self-study program that combines a broad curriculum with professional conduct requirements, culminating in three sequential exams. Commitment to professional ethics is at the core of what CFAs do. The CFA Institute promotes high ethical standards and investor protection through professional codes of conduct, guidance and outreach.

 

CPA/PFS is the designation earned by CPAs who specialize in providing estate, tax, retirement, risk management and investment planning advice. The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential holders have a specific experience, education and examination requirement that sets them apart from other CPAs and financial planners.

The AIF designation signifies specialized knowledge of fiduciary responsibility and the ability to implement policies and procedures that meet a defined standard of care.

Individuals who hold the AWMA® designation have completed a course of study encompassing wealth strategies, equity-based compensation plans, tax reduction alternatives, and asset protection alternatives. Additionally, individuals must pass an end-of-course examination that tests their ability to synthesize complex concepts and apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations.

Individuals who hold the CRPC® designation have completed a course of study encompassing pre-and post-retirement needs, asset management, estate planning and the entire retirement planning process using models and techniques from real client situations. Additionally, individuals must pass an end-of-course examination that tests their ability to synthesize complex concepts and apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations.

What is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?

RIA firms are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state securities regulators, are subject to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and have a fiduciary interest to act in your best interests. Many independent RIAs, like DWM, are owned by the individual advisors who run them and provide wealth management services on a fee-only basis.

How often do you meet with your clients?

We encourage at least annual face-to-face meetings. Regarding regular telephone and email communication, we adhere to an internal “within one business day rule,” meaning we will get back to you within 24 hours (with exception to weekend and/or holiday). However, we typically respond within hours of a call or email.

How do you protect client confidentiality?

As investment advisors, we are bound by professional standards of confidentiality that are even more stringent than those required by law. Just as we are dedicated to protecting and enhancing your net worth and legacy, we are also committed to respecting your privacy and protecting the information you give to us. For current and former clients, we do not disclose any nonpublic personal information obtained in the course of our practice, except as required by law. Permitted disclosures include providing information to our team members, and, in limited situations, to unrelated third parties who need that information to assist us in providing services to you. In all such situations, we stress the confidential nature of information being shared. In order to guard your nonpublic personal information, we maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards that comply with our professional standards. Also, we use up-to-date technology such as Sharefile, which hosts and encrypts confidential documents, ensuring the security of sensitive information being sent by email.

How are my assets protected at Schwab?

Charles Schwab & Co. is our primary independent third-party custodian. Schwab has a strong financial position and concentrates its activities on serving 6,000 registered investment advisors like DWM plus Schwab retail customers. Assets custodied at Schwab are protected under the Securities Investors Protection Company (SIPC) up to $500,000 per account. Schwab provides additional insurance through Lloyd’s of London up to an aggregate of $600 million.

Who are NAPFA and the FPA?

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors – highly trained professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of those they serve. Since 1983, Americans across the country have looked to NAPFA for access to financial professionals who meet the highest membership standards for professional competency, client-focused financial planning, and Fee-Only compensation.

The Financial Planning Association (FPA®) is the largest membership organization for personal financial planning experts in the U.S. FPA helps connect thousands of consumers to competent and ethical planners who uphold the “FPA Standard of Care.” FPA members are those who commit to the highest standards of professional competence, ethical conduct, and clear, complete disclosure to those they serve. They deliver advice using an objective, client-centered, ethical process.

Why do you say “We don’t set it and forget it”?

As your life and the world around us changes, your financial plan and investment portfolio need to reflect these changes. While most fee-only advisors are sufficient in development of the initial financial plan, DWM takes it to the next level in making sure the plan is implemented and monitored over time. Similarly, your investment portfolio needs regular review and updating. New investment vehicles are constantly becoming available and asset class performance can change dramatically over time. “Set it and Forget it” is an easily executed business strategy that may have worked twenty years ago, but doesn’t work today. Understanding and dealing with the changes around the world and helping you protect and enhance your net worth and legacy is, on the other hand, a full-time commitment, one that DWM embraces.

Does DWM have a disaster recovery plan?

Yes, we do. Our original plan was adopted in 2001 and we review and update it annually.

What is discretionary trading?

Discretionary trading leaves decisions up to the manager’s discretion regarding what to buy, hold, or sell, and when to do so. Prior to any trades being made, we develop a customized Investment Policy Statement (“IPS”) which you sign that serves as our marching orders. The IPS outlines your investment objectives including rate of return, risk tolerance and performance expectations, your constraints including time horizon, income needs, liquidity, legal, tax and other unique needs, and the asset allocation, identifying the percentage to equities, fixed, alternatives, and cash. The day-to-day management including buying, selling, monitoring and rebalancing is our responsibility using “discretion” based upon the guidelines of your IPS.

What is your referral process?

If you think that any of your family or friends would benefit from the same value-added wealth management services that you are accustomed to, we are pleased to offer them a free consultation and/or portfolio review. If you provide a referral you can rest assured that:

  • We will keep both yours and their information confidential
  • There is no pressure for them to become clients
  • We will follow up 2 – 3 times and will not hassle them if they decide not to use our services
  • If our firm is not the right fit we will gladly refer them to a professional appropriate for their situation

Have you been disciplined by a professional or regulatory body?

Never.

Are my investment fees tax deductible?

Our CPA friends tell us that generally expenses related to investments, if they are ordinary and necessary for the production of income, may be deducted. Expenses related to tax-exempt income are not. Investment expenses are typically shown as miscellaneous itemized deductions and are subject to the 2% of AGI limitation. We do not provide tax advice nor prepare tax returns. Please check with your CPA for guidance on your specific situation.
 

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