Frequently asked questions
What is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠(CRPC®)?
It is a FINRA recognized designation that requires a rigorous program of study followed by a four-hour comprehensive exam covering the exam. This was the culmination of six months of rigorous study including the following topics:
- Strategies for Investing for Retirement
- Making the Most of Social Security Retirement Benefits
- Navigating Health Care Options in Retirement
- Designing Optimal Retirement Income Streams
- Achieving Tax and Estate Planning Objectives in Retirement
- Fiduciary, Ethical and Regulatory Issues for Advisers
How is a CRPC® different than a financial advisor?
As a retirement counselor (CRPC®) and financial wellness coach, I patiently and effectively educate clients in all areas of personal finance and retirement. I do notgive financial advice, and I do not manage money. The title “Financial Advisor” is an unregulated term that anyone can use. They may have some background, training and education in the industry or they may have very little. Similarly, the following terms are also unregulated and are used interchangeably:
Unlike financial advisors, I ALWAYS act in your best interest (fiduciary standard) and cannot derive a personal financial benefit from working with you other than bill for my time. I do not receive commissions, bonuses, awards, gifts, free trips, referrals or other incentives to make specific recommendations of specific products and services. Rather, I provide you with all of the education and information for you to make your ownvdecision for your needs.
How are your services different from that of the big firms with storefronts or fancy offices?
I do not have the pressure of having to meet a sales quota in order to be compensated. I am free from the conflicts inherent in the financial industry that include commissions (overt and hidden) and annual fees collected as a percentage of your net worth regardless of performance. I am also a lifelong educator rather than a salesperson. Because I limit the number of clients I handle, I am able to provide excellent service with same-day, if not immediate response time for questions and concerns.
You may want me to review your financial documents to explain what you own in terms of your assets. Many people are unclear of the differences between various investments such as managed versus indexed mutual funds, bonds versus bond funds and money markets versus CDs.
What methods do you use to to help me help myself in the future?
Together, we can run through some simple online calculators and simulations to show you how to sharpen your strategy so that it is consistent with your goals. I will also show you the best resources for lay people to keep current with issues of personal finance.
As an attorney, can you represent me in a legal matter?
No. Although I am a licensed attorney in good standing in the state of Maryland, I am not actively practicing law. You will still benefit from my legal experience and knowledge: for instance, you may want me to serve as your “second pair of eyes and ears” and accompany you to a meeting with a financial advisor, attorney or CPA. This will help to provide you with support and clarification to avoid any misunderstanding about important information conveyed.
Do you only work with women?
Of course, I am happy to work with men but my services focus on women for the following reasons:
Women are differently situated than men with respect to retirement; many have fewer retirement savings due to taking time off to care for family members. Women also have a longer lifespan than men so their money needs to go farther.
What benefits do you provide that a tradional CFP or Financial Adviser does not?
I will teach you to be self-reliant rather than create a sense of perpetual dependence to control your personal finances.
Why is it important for me to learn about handling my own personal finances?
Over the last few decades, there has been a shift from employer-provided pensions to the employee-funded employee 401K plans. As someone who is responsible for investing their own retirement, you will benefit from educating yourself as to the best possible choices to maximize outcome.
This is also something that we need to teach our children. There is little or no financial education in the schools. Most children learn life skills such as managing their money, most effectively from their parents through modeling good habits and through ongoing dialogue of ever-changing, complex issues.
Because the financial and insurance industries are very powerful and are poorly regulated to protect the consumer, it is imperative that you educate yourself and your children as much as possible.
I have a financial advisor; how can you add value?
Even if you hire someone else to manage your money, you will be in a much better position to evaluate the adviser’s performance. Because fees are often hidden and do not appear on statements, many people have no idea of the value of what they are receiving for their money. Not only can I explain the performance of your adviser but I can teach you to monitor his or her performance going forward.
We blindly trust people in the industry, many of whom are not necessarily very experienced or qualified. There are those some who could personally benefit at your expense. A study conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in 2012 entitled “Senior Financial Exploitation Study” revealed
- 74 percent of CFP® professionals are aware of older investors who have been offered unsuitable financial products by a financial advisor;
- 58 percent are aware of older investors who have been subject to omission of material facts about financial products;
- 48 percent are aware of older investors who have been subject to misrepresentations about financial products